Work to redevelop the Firepool site in Taunton will begin in a matter of weeks – at a cost to taxpayers of nearly £7million.

Somerset West and Taunton Council has been attempting to regenerate the former cattle market site in Taunton town centre (which has been vacant since 2008), aiming to deliver a mixture of homes, commercial units, a hotel, cinema and possibly a multi-purpose venue.

The council’s planning committee approved two sets of plans for the site in March, which would enable the land to be raised to offset flood risk from the River Tone and allow the first commercial elements to come forward.

The council has now revealed construction work could begin by the beginning of June – and has revealed its chosen contractors could earn up to £6.85m for this aspect of the work.

The two sets of plans approved by the planning committee on March 17 are designed to begin delivering the regeneration while addressing underlying issues with the wider site – specifically in relation to flood prevention and the ongoing issue of phosphate levels on the Somerset Levels and Moors.

To that end, one application entailed the former auction house on Canal Road being demolished and the surrounding land being raised up to prevent flooding from the river.

The other application concerned the former GWR offices (dubbed ‘Block 3’ within the Firepool master plan), which will see a new office building erected to provide employment space, with commercial outlets on the ground floor.

The existing GWR offices will also be converted and extended to provide a new restaurant, with outdoor seating overlooking the wider site.

The existing temporary cycle and pedestrian route through the site will be re-routed during the construction, allowing initial work to be carried out on the northern section of a boulevard which will run through the entire site and provide a straight link between the railway station and the town centre (via Somerset County Cricket Club).

Around the time of the planning approval, the council put out tenders for the work on the BidStats website, which allows private companies to bid for central and local government contracts.

The council estimated the drainage and levelling works needed on the site would cost up to £350,000, while the wider delivery of ‘Block 3’ could cost up to £6.5m.

The council has not divulged either the precise budgets for each aspect or the chosen contractor for each tender, citing commercial sensitivity.

However, it did promise that work would begin less than a month after the local elections to the new unitary Somerset Council, which will take place on May 5.

A spokesman said: “These figures express the forecast contract value based on a pre-contract appraisal by cost consultants, to give a budget into which contractors allow for inflation and contingency.

“Only the drainage and levelling tender has been progressed so far; as soon as the prescribed stand-still period is completed, we will be able to disclose who has been awarded the contract.

“For the drainage and levelling aspect, work will commence in late-May or early-June.”

The council – and by extension, the unitary authority which will replace it in April 2023 – expects to spend nearly £29m on the Firepool site by the end of the 2024/25 financial year, according to figures published in mid-March.

This comprises £13,427,000 for the construction of ‘Block 1’ (the homes in the south-east corner of the site), £10,352,000 for work to transform the existing car parks and £5,156,000 for general “phase one infrastructure”.

In addition to the two tendered aspects of the site, work is expected to commence shortly on delivering the new access road connecting the site with the A3087 Trenchard Way, following a separate planning approval in early February.