CONGRATULATIONS to Sarah Biggs on her suggestion for a botanic garden on the Firepool site ('Botanic garden would boost town's growth', Postbag, June 13).

As she wrote, this would truly offer a ‘new and inspiring dimension to our county town’.

It was somewhat ironic to read on the front page that the latest ‘new’ developments on the Firepool site are to include houses, flats and a five-screen cinema! Woopie-do!

Taunton has been designated as a ‘garden town’ - although you wouldn’t know it – and suggestions such as Sarah’s are exactly what the town needs to make it special, attracting investment and appealing to visitors.

I attended the ‘Great Plastics Debate’ last year and raised the possibility of creating a living centre for urban sustainability. This was well received by those attending the debate; however, subsequent letters to the council have been largely ignored.

In a nutshell, I believe Taunton is a natural geographical hub for a centre of creativity and innovation in the field of sustainable futures. A Centre for Urban Sustainable Development could offer the following opportunities:

• A business hub for like-minded organisations involved in sustainable futures to work on the same site, benefiting from Taunton’s excellent communication links and enjoying the synergies of being part of a ‘business park’

• Opportunities for companies and organisations to showcase their sustainable products and services . . . this could be anything from electric bikes and wicker coffins through to micro-hydro, wood pellet boilers and new technologies such as hydroponics and aeroponics.

• An educational and business information hub for companies and the general public to find out about alternative sustainable futures. Maybe links could be established with local colleges and universities?

• Events, such as an annual Sustainability Show, and all manner of other commercial and public-orientated events (energy conservation, health and well-being, waste management, leisure, etc)

• Low-rental premises for small businesses and artisans (artists, potters, food manufacturing, upcycling, etc)

• Green spaces to be used for a variety of purposes which may include health and well-being (such as an outdoor gym and sensory gardens), greenhouses, permaculture, wildlife ponds, composting, etc.

• Opportunities for leisure and recreation might include sports facilities with an emphasis on inclusivity and a ‘sport for all’ approach.

Somerset County Gazette:

The development of a brownfield site such as Firepool, demonstrating good practices such as urban greening, transport (cycleways, walkways, electric vehicles), water and waste management and the use of sustainable materials (for example, permeable tarmac to reduce the flood hazard) could establish Taunton as a centre of excellence both nationally and internationally.

Isn’t it about time that our council started to show real ambition and vision by taking on board some of the many excellent suggestions and ideas aimed at turning Taunton into a beacon for the future, a ‘green’ centre for business and technological creativity and innovation?


Founder, the Sustainability Show