TAUNTON received a New Year present with the Government designating it one of three new garden towns.

The area gets £350,000 to plan improved countryside access around three developments and link green spaces to housing/employment sites through country parks, community woodland and recreation areas.

The windfall will cover master planning costs and identify infrastructure needs associated with 8,000 homes being built in Monkton Heathfield, Comeytrowe/Trull and Staplegrove.

It should help the area attract more Government cash for the creation of garden towns and villages.

A Taunton Deane Borough Council spokesman said the handout recognises the authority's strategy to deliver "major regeneration" in the town centre, "marrying development with access to green space".

Executive member for planning and transport Cllr Roger Habgood said: "Taunton already benefits from many of the characteristics of a garden town – we want to strike that balance between retaining our character and wonderful environment to our growth aspirations that will make our county town more prosperous in future."

Deane House leader Cllr John Williams said: "Garden town status will emphasise the importance of development maximising the potential of the area’s green spaces and Taunton’s easy access to the countryside.

“It will also help stimulate improvement and growth of the town centre and help us deliver the essential infrastructure we all know is necessary to support our ambitious plans.”

Taunton Deane MP Rebecca Pow said: "The idea behind the garden town status and the associated injection of funding is to accelerate the delivery of housing ensuring plans are sustainable, including the right infrastructure at the right time and delivery of high quality new settlements that stand out from the ordinary.

"This is the kind of status that should make much needed new housing in Staplegrove, Monkton Heathfield and Comeytrowe more sustainable and acceptable.

"It's essential that green spaces, recreational space and allotment sites are given due weighting alongside essential facilities, services, infrastructure and park and ride facilities.”

Somerset County Council leader Cllr John Osman said: “We need new homes and jobs for the long-term prosperity of the county and a new garden town is part of our vision.

"The announcement is great news and we'll be working closely with district colleagues to take the next steps.”

Housing Minister Gavin Barwell said: “I was impressed with the strength of local leadership and commitment to transformational change from Taunton Deane Council in making the case for garden town status.

"Locally-led garden towns have enormous potential to deliver the homes communities need."

Gideon Amos, vice-president of the Town and Country Planning Association, which invented garden cities, welcomed the announcement in support of greener development with more affordable homes and local communities.

But Mr Amos, the LibDem prospective Parliamentary candidate for Taunton Deane, added: "The pioneering garden cities succeeded because they were designed around high speed public transport and investment in infrastructure, all made possible by a degree of social ownership of the new community.

"So far today’s Government prospectus for the Taunton garden town is silent on all of these things and has had all its environmental standards removed."

Arts Taunton chairman Kit Chapman said: "The success of Taunton’s bid for garden town status coincides perfectly with work we're planning in collaboration with Taunton Deane Borough Council and Taunton Flower Show to develop an innovative design, landscaping and planting plan for Taunton."


*The Government has also named Aylesbury and Harlow and Gilston as garden towns, with a further £1.4 million of funding to support their delivery.

*Garden cities were the brainchild of Ebenezer Howard in 1898, intended as an alternative to industrial slums, with green space and community at their heart.

*The first examples were Letchworth and Welwyn Garden City and there are now 12 in the UK, each with a combined development of approximately 10,000 or more homes.

*The Government has also created 14 new garden villages, with less than 10,000 homes.

*Approximately 4,500 new homes are planned for Monkton Heathfield, together with employment sites, a country park and woodland in the green wedge between Monkton Heathfield and Priorswood, as well as cycleways and walkways adjacent to the Bridgwater and Taunton Canal. A new school has already been built. There are plans for a 'green necklace' with allotments, recreation areas and wildlife habitat.

*About 1,500 new homes proposed at Staplegrove, with plans to improve links to the surrounding countryside plus a new primary school, local centre with open space, recreational opportunities, improved cycle and pedestrian links.

*A new community of 2,000 homes is earmarked for Comeytrowe/Trull, along with a primary school, new green wedge, open space, social and community facilities and public transport links.


TAUNTON won its garden town status thanks to a slick expression of interest document.

It outlined proposals for the county town to strengthen its position as a first class destination at the heart of the South West and plans to regenerate the town centre.

There will be a predicted 13,000 homes built and 9,500 jobs created in Taunton by 2028, with previously built on brownfield sites offering "fantastic opportunities to maximise growth" while still retaining the town's quality of life.

Efforts will be made to encourage a closer tie between wildlife in our gardens, streets and parks and our daily activities, while there will be access to open spaces, leisure and recreational facilities and the countryside will be "brought into the heart of the town".

Taunton has been identified as a Principal Growth Area, with thousands of jobs created locally and supply chain opportunities associated with the Hinkley Point nuclear project Multi-million pound schemes will see around 4,000 jobs on a strategic employment site off Junction 25 of the M5, improvements at the rail station, dualling of the A358, and a strategic flood project.

The regeneration of Taunton town centre, especially Coal Orchard and Firepool, will offer new homes, shops, leisure, sporting and community activities, with much of it exploiting the River Tone and the green connections from Longrun Meadow, Firepool Lock and Vivary Park joined up.

Other strategic infrastructure projects include a rapid bus corridor on the A38 serving the new communities and improving connectivity between Bridgwater, Taunton and Wellington; better pedestrian and cycle links to the town centre; and potentially re-opening Wellington railway station.

The document said: "Taunton is ideally placed to lead the way in responding to the garden town prospectus and to offer a learning opportunity for those areas where new garden town proposals are less developed.

"The town already benefits from many of the characteristics of a garden town.

"As Somerset's largest and fastest growing town, Taunton strikes a balance in retaining its distinctive character, beautiful environment and great quality of life."

**NOW Taunton has achieved garden town status, there are plans to request further Government support for: *A continuing commitment the Junction 25 and A358 improvements.

*Funding for sustainable transport measures, including a bus priority infrastructure, re-opening Wellington Station and cycle infrastructure.

*Commitment of Growth Deal funds for Taunton.

*Assistance towards essential educational facilities and a new secondary school.

*Help to access Department of Health and NHS cash for health facilities and improvements.

*A greater emphasis on public health and the link between health and housing and the need to address health and social care needs arising from the town's ageing population.