AN 88-year-old town centre building could be demolished and replaced with homes for elderly people.

A planning application has been submitted to Somerset West and Taunton Council for permission to demolish Corfield Hall in Magdalene Street.

The building would be replaced by 11 Almshouse flats, with a community room and a ground floor office.

Taunton Heritage Trust is an Almshouse charity which has been running in the town since the early 1600s as a registered housing provider.

It hopes to gain permission to build 11 more flats, to go alongside the 66 self-contained properties for over 60s which are already being used throughout Taunton.

The site is adjacent to St Mary's Church, a listed building, and an addition application for listed building consent has also been applied for.

A spokesperson for the project outlined the trust's intentions in the design and access statement: "In a resurgence of Almshouse building, Taunton is fortunate to have an active and engaged Almshouse Trust which is expanding its small operation with an improved office facility and provision of 11 new Almshouses.

"These homes provide housing for those in need owned and managed by a charity with a focus on the pastoral functioning of their Almshouses as vibrant communities.

"The Almshouses have shared community rooms and gardens that allow residents to meet, look after each other’s needs and build friendships.

"The project has been sensitively designed with extensive consultation with the planning officers, Historic England and the community.

"The important setting of Grade I listed Mary Magdalene Church has been carefully considered to inform the scheme.

READ MORE: Shakees play cafe in Taunton closes

"The client’s aspiration is to build a high-quality building with the same longevity as Gray’s Almshouse, Taunton, built 1635.

"The scheme is of significant importance for the client as it will be the Trust's home in terms of its relocated offices and will provide a 15 per cent increase in its Almshouse flat portfolio.

"The design will need to be of high quality to sit in context of St Mary's churchyard. The proposed scheme should have longevity and be low maintenance and should be the best fit for the site.

"It will create a community and a lasting piece of Architecture which in time will become an important part of Taunton's heritage."

The scheme is for one bed flats for one or two people.

Corfield Hall, which was most recently used as a cafe and soft play centre, called Shakees, was originally built as a church hall in 1932.

Shakees closed in April 2018.

The building was named after Canon Corfield, a respected vicar from 1911-1925, and was also used as a forces club during the Second World War.

The application also details how the site was also used twice-yearly by the Thespian Amateur Dramatic Society, which would hire the hall to stage plays, before moving to the Brewhouse Theatre.

The cafe closed in June 2018 and has been vacant ever since, before the trust purchased the building late in 2018.

Since then, it has been developing its plans to provide more Almshouse properties in the town.

The trust also claims the council's Streetwise Coordinator has written a letter in support of the scheme which confirms that it will ‘resolve a difficult area for the town with crime, drug and loitering issues’ and is strongly in support of the scheme.

To view or to make a comment on the plans, search reference number 38/19/0426 on the planning section of the council's website.

An online consultation will run until February 7, with a decision targeted to be made by April 14.