THE plan to pedestrianise a town centre street in Taunton is underway.

St James Street is closed to traffic from this morning (Monday), as part of a 12-month trial which will see cars banned from using the road to cut through town.

Traffic is busy as rush hour approaches, with barriers across St James Street at the junction with North Street and with Middle Street, near the Wickets eatery.

Planters are set to be installed at either end of the pedestrianised zone, which has split opinion in the County Town.

Somerset County Gazette:

Other plans to ban cars in Hammet Street and East Street are still not ready to go live.

Jayne O’Brien, of lettings agency Eden May, has met with Somerset West and Taunton Council on behalf of traders in St James Street.

She said: “The traders of St James Street and surrounding areas have come together and decided if the trial is taking place, then we want it to be successful.

“We’ve come up with lots of ideas and suggestions which we’ve put to the council so that our businesses can survive and hopefully proper during the trial.

“But we’re disappointed there’s no budget to do anything during the trial and the council will not take any of our proposals on board at the start of the trial. We’ve only been given the opportunity to meet them to discuss the ideas a month after it starts.”

Somerset County Gazette:

Businessman Simon Willetts is frustrated at the “piecemeal” approach to implementing the scheme, which will see delivery lorries accessing businesses via Middle Street.

“We’re not against closing St James Street per se - it’s just the way it’s been done,” he said.

“It should have been part of the whole plan to redevelop Coal Orchard and maybe pedestrianise the whole of St James Street."

A council spokeswoman said the trial follows extensive consultations and discussions about “the perception of safety, effects on the evening economy, taxi services, cycle lanes and coach parking”.

She added: “As a result St James Street will be closed between North Street and Lower Middle Street only, with review meetings every three months. A package of monitoring measures will be published in advance so the effects of the scheme can be reviewed.”

Somerset County Gazette:

The project comes ahead of the town centre Cricket World Cup fan zone on June 8 and 9.

READ MORE: St James Street to be closed to cars from NEXT WEEK

She said: “Work on the proposals for Hammet Street and East Street will continue after the successful implementation of the St James Street closure. These changes will be subject to public consultation prior to any implementation.”