A TOWN centre footpath will not be reopened despite hundreds of people signing a petition.

Somerset West and Taunton Council closed the riverside footpath near to Coal Orchard car park last week as works on the multi-million pound development are set to begin.

Midas Construction began work at the Coal Orchard site at the end of August.

In addition to the main build which includes a mix of apartments, retail, workspace, and restaurants; a significant part of the project is improving the public spaces around the site.

This includes building a terrace down to the river, which will create a new accessible plaza at the water’s edge. Prior to the construction of this element of the project, the existing site has to be cleared and levelled; and preparatory works undertaken for piling foundations.

But residents and shoppers in the local area were angered that no warning had been given that the footpath would be closed.

Resident of nearby flats, Martin Pakes, was collecting signatures urging the council to rethink its closure plans.

Somerset County Gazette:

ACTION: Mr Pakes gathering signatures

READ MORE: Petition launched as well-used town centre footpath closed 'without warning'

However, the council has said it will not be able to reopen the footpath due to health and safety concerns.

The authority says it must also ensure the River Tone and surrounding area is not affected by the works

Mike Borkowski, business development director at Midas Construction, the contractors for the project, said: “Health and safety is an extremely important aspect of any construction project. It is our duty to consider public safety at all times and to put measures in place to ensure this.”

Somerset County Gazette:

CLOSED: The riverside footpath, which must remain closed for health and safety reasons

Cllr Marcus Kravis, executive councillor for economic development, explained how the council is working with traders and residents in the area to help address their concerns, and will be looking at different ways to engage with them as the project moves forward.

He said: “The start of work at Coal Orchard marks a significant step in our plans to regenerate Taunton.

“We have been speaking to traders and residents about their concerns around the footpath closure and other aspects of the development. We are listening and will take their feedback into account although safety remains a priority.

“We are also looking at different ways to engage with the community going forward to keep them fully informed and minimise any disruption at this central site.”