THE decision to start building new shops all over Coal Orchard means an opportunity lost.

A few less shops in front of the imposing Courtyard Building would have allowed St James Street to be widened to allow turning space and a small drop off/collection terminal for the passengers of buses, coaches and taxis.

We have a bus station on the west of the town centre but a big generator of traffic on the east at Junction 25.

A new direct link from the J25 park and ride to a now more traffic sheltered St James Street would allow buses quicker turn round and replace car journeys, perhaps aided by an 750m long bus and emergency vehicle lane on the longest length of the Toneway.

Currently, bus routes from the east have to battle with traffic congestion in Hamilton Road, East Reach and through to the centre. Similarly Bridge Street to Station Road provides a congested route.

These roads have to serve as relief roads when an M5 diversion occurs, disrupting schedules.

The county surveyor's work in widening the town's entrance roads from junction 25 to three lanes will bring in extra traffic as their published projection of rising traffic volumes to 2028, supported by an improved A358 dual carriageway beyond.

READ MORE: Preparatory work starts at Coal Orchard - CLOSING public footpaths

With another climate change strike planned later this month, our council leaders need to explain that during their reign, places like East Reach will see more traffic, congestion, carbon dioxide emissions and air pollution.

Thirty five years ago, St James Street had a protected line for a proposed inner relief road which was defected in the 1980s local plan process, allowing the courtyard area shops to be restored.

Now, we urgently need a future public transport routes and facilities masterplan for an expanded Taunton.

There’s no easy alternative to a St James Street transport interchange on the east side of the town.