PEOPLE living near a proposed riverside development of flats, shops, offices and restaurants are campaigning for the plans to be torn up.

They say the detailed proposals bear little resemblance to outline plans for the scheme at Taunton's Coal Orchard approved in April by landowner Taunton Deane Borough Council.

The residents of nearby Pegasus Court have been campaigning beside the existing car park, where the project is due to be built, and have collected scores of signatures on a petition.

Campaign leader Martin Pakes said: "The public is unaware of what's happening.

"This new application is completely different to the original plans for specialist shops, offices, flats and galleries - now it's largely restaurants.

"The most contentious issue is car parking, which is being reduced from 120 to 49 spaces. Disabled bays have gone down from eight to two.

"Coal Orchard is a special place on a par with Bath Place. It's an interesting part of town next to the river and deserves something better than what the council has come up with.

"The council has forgotten the area's unique selling point - its human scale, its haphazard arrangements of alleyways and spaces and its variety of specialist shops. This character is not reflected in the proposals."

Mr Pakes added that the loss of parking will hit traders, the Brewhouse theatre, St James Medical Centre and the church.

The proposals, which involve the demolition of the closed St James Pool, aims to encourage "active streets during the day and night" to support retailers and "enhance the pedestrian footfall in front of the Brewhouse, therefore integrating the theatre into the Coal Orchard quarter".

Martin Wakefield, parochial church council secretary at St James Church, has voiced fears that users of the church and its hall would be unable to park and walk from alternative car parks when the number of spaces is cut.

In a letter he added: "After evening events, many of these people feel very vulnerable walking to the other car parks along uneven, deserted back streets."

He is among dozens of protesters who have raised objections with the Deane.

A council spokeswoman said: "A detailed application has been submitted for consideration by the planning committee and as part of that process people were able to comment on the application.

"The residents at Pegasus Court have submitted their comments as part of that process. As this is now a 'live' planning application, the council cannot comment further."