EFFORTS to regenerate a town on the Somerset Levels have taken a huge step forward after planning consent was granted to two major projects.

Glastonbury was one of 101 towns across the UK – and one of only two in Somerset – which has received funding from the government’s towns fund, with £23.6m being provided for projects designed to enhance the town centre and improve the town’s fortunes.

Following the approval of the individual business cases in September 2022, two of the 11 projects have successfully obtained planning permission – namely the creation of the Glastonbury community sports and leisure hub on the A361 Street Road and the revamp of the entrance to Glastonbury Abbey on Magdalene Street.

Now two other projects have joined them in securing planning permission from Somerset Council – namely the construction of a health and well-being hub at St Dunstan’s House on Magdalene Street, and the construction of a “regenerative farming centre” on Porchestall Drove, at the western edge of the town.

St Dunstan’s House lies on the eastern side of Magdalene Street, between the town hall and St Dunstan’s car park, and currently houses the town’s tourist information centre.

Under the proposals, an atrium will be constructed to link the building with the town hall, with internal renovations being carried out to allow different groups to make the best use of the space.

A town deal spokesman said: “Glastonbury is home to many community groups that provide support for local residents, but these groups often struggle to find suitable places in which to meet.

Somerset County Gazette: Artist's impression of the Wellbeing Centre on St Dunstan'S House on Magdalene Street in Glastonbury.Artist's impression of the Wellbeing Centre on St Dunstan'S House on Magdalene Street in Glastonbury. (Image: 02i Design)

“The restoration of St Dunstan’s House and the addition of a new atrium at Glastonbury Town Hall, will create a multi-purpose community space in centre of the town.

“The Centre will be a covid-safe venue for the community where people will be able to take part in activities and gatherings, access support for vulnerable groups; learn about healthy eating and living, improve their computer skills, and get help in finding employment.

“In addition, local organisations will be able to access outreach business advice services and hire rooms for meetings and training events.

“This dedicated community hub will become a central point in the town where local residents and businesses will be able to access a range of support and advice, as well as benefiting from learning and social opportunities.”

The health and well-being hub will cost £1.74m to deliver, of which £1.39m will come from the town deal and the remaining £350,000 from other sources.

The Glastonbury food and regenerative farming centre will be constructed to the south of Porchestall Drove, between the Sydenham Timber Centre and Bride’s Mound (the latter of which is also due to be regenerated through the town deal).

The centre is designed to be “a community-led agro-ecological facility which will enable people to find a place of learning and development, and gain knowledge and experience in producing local food.”

A town deal spokesman said: “Through demonstrations and hands-on learning, people will learn how to work with, rather than against, the land. In doing so, they’ll be helping to improve soil quality, support biodiversity and enhance natural ecosystems.

“As well as producing local food and thereby reducing food miles, other aims of the project include inspiring smallholders, landowners and gardeners to care for the land in harmony with nature; increasing food resilience; and improving the mental and physical well-being of local residents.”

The bulk of the site will be used for agricultural purposes, including crop growing, an apothecary and herb garden, wetlands and a forest school.

A processing barn will be constructed on site, as well as roundhouses for training, shipping containers to provide kitchens and offices, and a number of polytunnels and composting toilets.

A total of 26 car parking spaces will be provided on site, as well as 20 cycle spaces.

New footpaths will be created to link the site to the Beckery Village area of the town, which will be brought forward as part of a separate town deal project, dubbed the Robert Richards initiative.

A total of £1.93m will be spent on delivering the project – of which £1.13m will be provided from the town deal, with the remaining £800,000 being match funded from other sources.

Both applications were approved through the delegated powers of the council’s planning officers, rather than a public decision by its planning committee east, which handles major applications in the former Mendip area.

Decisions are still pending on several other planning applications relating to the Glastonbury town deal, including the regeneration of the Baily’s Buildings on Beckery Old Road and improvements to the Red Brick Building on Morland Road.

For more information on all the Glastonbury town deal projects, visit www.glastonburytowndeal.co.uk. All projects must be completed by March 2026 under the terms of the town deal.