A PLANNED community centre within a new low-cost development in Taunton could be scrapped under new plans.

The North Taunton Woolaway Project, which is being overseen by Somerset Council, will see 162 ‘defective’ Woolaway homes in the Priorswood area of Taunton demolished and replaced by 229 low-carbon council houses – with a further 27 homes being refurbished.

Phase A of the project will deliver 47 new homes across five sites, comprising 21 new builds and 26 replacement properties – some of which have already begun to be let to tenants.

This phase was  originally expected to include a community centre at the corner of Rochester Road and Dorchester Road.

But the council has now revealed this facility could instead be scrapped and replaced with two further apartments for those on low incomes.

This announcement comes mere weeks after Homes England provided £5m to speed up the delivery of the remaining phases of the project.

The council said that there were already eight community facilities within easy reach of the new homes – namely:

  • Waterside House on Abbey Close
  • Leonard Holden Court on Dorchester Road
  • St Andrew’s Church Hall on Greenway Avenue
  • Hope Corner Lane Meeting Hall on Hope Corner Lane
  • Priorswood Community Centre on Priorswood Place
  • Rowbarton & Lyngford Boys’ Club on Selworthy Road
  • St. Peter’s Church Hall on Eastwick Road
  • Wellesley Street Meeting Hall on Wellesley Street

For more information on the North Taunton project, visit www.somerset.gov.uk/housing-support/council-and-social-housing/north-taunton-woolaway-project-overview.

The council said it had approached both the new tenants and the North Taunton Partnership (which runs the Priorswood Community Centre) to run the new community space, but neither option had proved viable.

A spokesman for Nash Partnership (representing the council) said: “The possibility of the tenants running the facility was explored, as the facility was intended to be run by and serve the local community.

“However, the tenants in question later withdrew their interest and so an alternative of using North Taunton Partnership to run the facility was

“Despite meetings with trustees, the North Taunton Partnership confirmed inability to progress with the community centre on August 5, 2023 as they did not feel it was viable to take on the commitment of a new facility.

“This was reaffirmed on August 25, 2023 and their interest was officially withdrawn.”

The building which would have housed the community centre is already largely constructed, meaning mostly internal alterations would be needed.

The two new flats – one with one bedroom, one with two bedrooms – will be offered at affordable rent, targeted at people who have accessibility needs (e.g. wheelchair users).

The spokesman added: “The provision of additional housing in the area will help Taunton to achieve its target of accommodating at least 13,000 new homes by 2028, as noted in the Taunton Deane Core Strategy.

“The gain of two affordable dwellings is seen as more beneficial than retaining an unoccupied community facility, which currently does not provide any community benefit.”

The council is expected to make a decision to ratify these proposals early in the new year.