Like many others, I have enjoyed looking at the historic illustrations of Taunton that have been put on display on the front of the former Debenhams store in North Street.

I hope that the interest generated will result in some action to improve the current condition of the streets and spaces that are shown in the display, together with the settings of the surviving historic buildings.

The illustrations show how The Parade and Taunton’s historic market place has progressively deteriorated over the past 90 years, starting in the 1930s with the loss of the market arcades and the Kinglake Memorial. Since the removal of the flower gardens in the 1990s, it has really been no more than a traffic roundabout.

One wonders for how much longer this state of affairs will be allowed to continue. Tangier Way, with its additional river crossing, has been open for 10 years, so there does not seem any good reason why most traffic should still be driving right through the historic town centre, across The Parade, either through habit or to use it as a shortcut.

One also wonders for how much longer the view of the Municipal Buildings dating back to 1480, and listed Grade II* - will have as a foreground, a bus shelter and a taxi rank. In a sense, those things are there because there happened to be a wider section of street from where the indoor market was serviced, something that (for better or worse) moved out in the 1930s.

The tower of St Mary Magdalene (now of course Taunton Minster) is regarded by some as the finest of any parish church in England. Unfortunately, it continues to have to be viewed from the nondescript surfaces and road markings that currently make up Church Square. A location overdue for enhancement as a civic space, along with the well-known, postcard view of the tower along Hammet Street.

There has been much debate about the need for more pedestrianisation of Taunton’s shopping streets. This does seem necessary, indeed is arguably overdue. However, online shopping has reduced the demand for some types of retailing.

If you want to attract people to the town centre, action is also needed to improve places where people meet and socialise. These would include the secondary retail areas, the old municipal quarter in Corporation Street with its historic buildings, and, of course, the town’s riverside.

Written by Philip Bisatt, Taunton.