A CRUCIAL roundabout in Taunton town centre will not be upgraded while a new cycle route is delivered.

Somerset West and Taunton Council was allocated £13.9m from the government’s future high streets fund back in December 2020 to deliver walking and cycling improvements.

The funding was earmarked towards creating a new active travel route from Taunton railway station to Vivary Park, via the Firepool and Coal Orchard regeneration site.

Somerset Council – which inherited the project in April 2023 – has confirmed that it will be implementing as much of the new route as funding will allow, including a relocated crossing on the A38 Upper High Street.

But officers have confirmed the Market House roundabout will not be upgraded as part of these improvements – despite regular concerns being raised by local cycling campaigners.

The planned active travel route begins at the southern entrance to the railway station, traversing the busy A3087 Trenchard Way and linking up with the new Firepool access road, which was completed in June 2023.

Cyclists will be able to use dedicated cycle lanes within this junction to move south and connect up with the ‘southern boulevard’ which runs through the site towards the River Tone.

Pedestrians will eventually have the option of either using the access road or steps leading down between the town’s digital innovation centre (which will open in the spring) and the former GWR building, which will be converted into offices, commercial space and a restaurant.

Plans for the southern boulevard were approved in November 2022, with the route following that of the temporary boulevard put in place when Taunton hosted three games of the 2019 men’s cricket world cup.

After moving past the new water gardens and amphitheatre included in the southern boulevard plans, the route then links up with the existing National Cycle Network route 3, leading under the A3038 Priory Bridge Road and along the north bank of the river.

Once cyclists reach the Morrison’s bandstand, they will be encouraged to cross a new bridge planned to connect the cycle path with Coal Orchard and the Brewhouse Theatre – though planning permission for this bridge is not yet in place.

From Coal Orchard, residents can move smoothly through into St. James Street, taking in Taunton’s ‘independent quarter’ before moving along the A3027 North Street, Fore Street and the pedestrianised High Street.

The new route ends at an improved toucan crossing over the A38 Upper High Street to Vivary Park’s iconic white entrance gates.

Members of the Taunton Area Cycling Campaign (TACC) have repeatedly raised concerns about the cobbled Market House roundabout, which connects North Street, Fore Street, Hammet Street (towards Taunton Minster) and East Street.

A spokesman said: “We have campaigned strongly to get maintenance improvements at the Market House roundabout following the series of reports of cycling crashes on the dangerous surface there over many years.

“However, Somerset Council have declined to help. They say that the area will be affected by longer term traffic management proposals and therefore spending could be abortive.”

Somerset Council has been reviewing its capital programme in light of its perilous financial situation, with only schemes which are fully funded or which benefit from central government support being taken forward in the near-future.

The council confirmed it still aimed to create the new route through the town centre, but declined to provide a start date for the project.

A spokesman said: “We are still delivering a portion of the schemes within the future high streets fund allocation.

“Unfortunately, the Market House roundabout is not one of the projects going ahead due to the amount of funding.

“We have been granted an extension of time to get the projects delivered, including the Upper High Street junction, the new River Tone bridge, and the northern and southern boulevard through the Firepool site.

“We don’t have an exact start date as yet, but it will be in 2024.”