EACH year of delay in developing Firepool loses the council £2million per annum, a report claims.

It predicts the value of goods and services produced by businesses on the former livestock market site would climb to £3million a year once developed.

As a result, the officer report to Somerset West and Taunton Council's executive and full council this week advises progressing the scheme sooner rather than later.

The council plans to build homes, bars and restaurants, a hotel, innovation centre, cinema, offices and possibly a local supermarket.

The report says: "The site could reasonably be producing £1.5million of business rates income per year and in the region of £500,000 per annum in council tax.

"Then you add in the GVA (gross value added) of any business uses on site, employment created is a direct and indirect income to the area and wider public sector including the council of at least £3million per annum.

"There is every reason to move on a regeneration scheme on this site quickly to capitalise on these considerable benefits."

The recently elected LibDems are keen to develop the site, which had become a wasteland after being vacant for 11 years.

They are not expected to sign up a single developer partner after the "clear example of putting too many eggs into the one basket" during eight years of faltering progress with St Modwen, although the company did secure outline planning permission for Firepool.

The report says: "The best possible solution is to look at the site not as one large development site, but on a master plan basis where the site is shaped by the public realm, the boulevard, the lock and bridges and public spaces and the 400-metre waterfront on both river and canal.

"These elements can be enjoyed by all residents of Taunton.

"They should be delivered to the best possible quality and the only organisation that can honestly undertake that task to the benefit of all residents and visitors to the area is the council."

Recent works on site include the breaking up of concrete, enhanced fencing, landscaping and a temporary grassed area to make the area "attractive for the public to use and enjoy pending development".

Further work in coming weeks will include demolitions, completion of a temporary footpath to the station and of the vehicular access from Trenchard Way.

The report adds: "The intention is that these works create considerable temporary improvement to the area and help make an underused public car park feel more welcome and useable as a long stay car park outside of cricket matches.

"That should help grow car park revenue.

"The enabling words are also intended to help build momentum...and to help illustrate to investors and occupiers the true value of the site."