PLANS by the owners of a Taunton shop to boost their income following the impact of the pandemic have been scuppered by planners.

A planning application to create five flats in the Fine Fabrics premises and in two adjoining properties in Magdalene Street have been refused by Somerset West and Taunton Council.

The owners, who have stressed they have no plans to close the business, had applied for a change of use permission for the shop and to convert an existing former cottage and almshouse into flats, along with a second floor extension.

Council planners turned down the application as they felt it "would not respect the historic scale and character of the locality", including the nearby St Mary Magdalene Church.

They were also concerned the proposed development could lead to fewer potential customers walking through a location within the defined town centre and secondary shopping frontage area.

Other arguments against the flats scheme included insufficient space for bike parking and adverse phosphate deposits on the Somerset Levels and Moors.

Chris Willey, who owns a neighbouring estate agents, had contacted the council's planners to oppose the proposals.

Mr Willey said the "significant building works" would probably deal a "hammer blow" to the future of nearby businesses trying to recover from the pandemic.

He also expressed concerns that existing social problems in Magdalene Lane such as "noise, begging, drunkenness and urination against the walls and windows of premises" would possibly be made worse by "more disturbances".

Mr Willey also outlined issues of parking, rubbish and potential detraction from the character and charm of a "quaint thoroughfare".