I WAS relieved to read in your paper last week that the plans for the hotel on the Firepool site have been shelved, though slightly dismayed to read of councillors still talking about throwing up shops and restaurants, when a far more inspired use of this land is suggested by the arrival of the small piece of green grass on the site.

Surely a wonderful use of this central area of our county town would be a modern botanic garden?

To have such a large, blank, central, easily accessible swathe of land available in a modern town is a jewel not to be thrown away on the usual urban planning.

Instead, Taunton could initiate a wonderful green attraction.

The size of the plot means a truly ambitious design could be created, featuring areas of very different moods. As well as beautiful herbaceous borders, there could be wild planting, with substantial trees, glass houses to showcase planting from around the world, educational areas for schools, environmentally-conscious zones, and, making the most of the position, a water element.

There should of course be a tea garden or café, and maybe an art gallery.

Previous suggestions for this site have included hotels, shops and restaurants – none of which would be distinctive to Taunton or make any visitors come here for a special trip.

However, a large, ambitiously designed botanic garden would lay down a marker for how the town sees itself, and would become a destination to visit.

READ MORE: Homes, a cinema, bars, restaurants and homes... The NEW plan for Firepool

For visitors arriving by train it would be the first thing they saw of the town, and for those visiting the County Ground (or televising it) it would be a wonderful advertisement.

In terms of financing it, entrance fees would help (with locals getting much-reduced entrance rates), but additionally developers who wish to build on our town’s precious surrounding countryside should be made to offer a sizeable contribution as a condition for planning permission.

Maybe a small area of land could be sold at the edge of the site for a few houses – at a price reflecting the attractiveness of the setting.

Such a project, and the media coverage it would receive, would put Taunton on the map and offer a new and inspiring dimension to our county town.