BUSES of Somerset has announced it is in talks to sell off Taunton Bus Station.

The potential buyer is believed to be Somerset West and Taunton Council, which already owns part of the Tower Street site, which could command a six-figure fee.

A member of the council not involved in the negotiations said the location off Castle Green could eventually be replaced by food and drink outlets and even a four-star hotel.

A Buses of Somerset spokesman told the County Gazette: "Buses of Somerset can confirm that we are in negotiations regarding the sale of Taunton Bus Station.

"We are fully committed to the provision of bus services in Taunton and Somerset, and the sale receipt from this asset will allow us to invest in the fleet and better facilities.

"Discussions have only just started.

"While we are not in a position to communicate timescales, we would like to reassure customers and other stakeholders that we intend to keep them fully informed and give ample notice about alternative bus departure arrangements and customer facilities."

A spokesman for the council, which currently leases its share of the site to Buses of Somerset 's parent company First Group, declined to comment.

But councillors are discussing the potential sale behind closed doors this evening (Wednesday).

Cllr Habib Farbahi, of the ruling LibDems, who has not been involved in the negotiations, suggested the site could initially be used as a temporary car park if the council does buy it.

"That could raise £150,000 a year for the council as discussions are held about its future," said Cllr Farbahi.

"It's a strategically important site and would be a great addition to the cultural quarter at Castle Green.

"Converting it into a hospitality, food and drink quarter ticks all the boxes."

The possible relocation of Taunton Bus Station has been discussed many times over many years.

Nigel Pearce, president of Taunton Chamber of Commerce, said some people feel the current bus station is conveniently located for the town centre, but not for the train station.

He added: "It will be interesting to see how this moves forward, but the key points are that public transport has to keep improving if we are to reduce car use, and any future development must be right to benefit the town.

"Castle Green has never fulfilled its potential, so if the right use is found then perhaps this could be just what's required."