SMALL businesses will have the opportunity to rent empty premises in Taunton town centre on a short-term basis as part of a bid to encourage entrepreneurship.

Taunton Town Council's pop-up shop initiative will provide short-term let opportunities to organisations and community groups from spring 2024.

Small businesses will try out the ‘bricks and mortar’ approach with a view to this opening the door for them and go on to rent another vacant unit.

Councillors unanimously resolved to proceed with plans to establish the shop, considering it to be an excellent opportunity for Taunton Town Council to encourage entrepreneurship and collaboration for the benefit of the town centre.

Cllr Caroline Ellis said: “The pop-up shop is brilliant. It is absolutely vital that we bring extra life to the town centre.

“They could be trying out having a shop and see how it works. There are a lot of artists with a series of exhibitions, and it is difficult to find the space.

“Communities and organisations can use it. Wellington has been a great success. I just think this is brilliant and it is a concrete thing we could do as a town council.”

Cllr Giuseppe Fraschini, while supporting the idea, said he had "some concerns".

He added: “As an initiative, it is great. It costs £40,000 a year to run and there are no details about economic growth. How much are we going to charge?

A council spokesperson said this “is an idea about what we can do" and "an idea to start with”. 

More details, including those on costs, will follow, the spokesperson added.

Cllr Federica Smith-Roberts added: “We want to come back to it before we move forward.

“Even if it costs £40,000 and we get £20,000 back, it is not losing money but investing in small businesses. I see it slightly differently.

“But the resolution is to come back to this and confirm the next details and commit to spending that money.”

The pop-up shop would also be available for organisations to have a base for community engagement or provide a cultural facility.

The aim is to have the project up and running in spring 2024.