The Great Western House building which has lain empty for 4 years is now on course to be brought back to life thanks to a partnership between YMCA Somerset Coast and Taunton Deane Borough Council.
Taunton Deane has granted the YMCA an enabling loan to exchange on the Grade II listed building, with a further loan to be agreed in the coming weeks which will enable the purchase. The YMCA will be refurbishing the building to create 14 boutique hotel bedrooms, a café and conferencing space alongside co-location working spaces for small businesses in Taunton. The refurbishment will be funded through a mix of sources including the EDF Community Impact Mitigation Fund, the Railway Heritage Trust and YMCA resources.
The operation will follow YMCA Somerset Coast successful projects such as the Beach Hotel in Minehead and Barley Wood Country House in Wrington, North Somerset, with the focus being on offering training in Hospitality, Catering and Business Skills to young people who may not otherwise be able to access such opportunities. Alongside this the building looks to be a centre for community activities and offer modern co-operative workspaces for start up businesses.
Both leader and deputy of Taunton Deane Borough Council, John Williams and Mark Edwards met with YMCA representatives on site this week to review the project.
Cllr Mark Edwards, Deputy Leader of the council and executive member for business development, said: “The Borough Council is delighted to be investing in this exciting and innovative project that will bring a neglected but important building back to life and help to regenerate and lift the area.
“It’s a great location for the hotel, conference space and café and for the small business space that are all planned. We are a business-friendly council and this project will not only provide a business boost but with the added social and educational benefits.”
Dave Jackson, Director of Social Enterprise for YMCA Somerset Coast added “this is another hugely exciting opportunity for us to help inspire and change the lives of young people of the area. We have already seen amazing transformations within our other projects, not only the buildings but the lives of the young people we work with. We have seen them move from our supported housing offering to complete catering qualifications and are now running departments in Michelin starred kitchens across the UK. “
It is anticipated that the refurbishment on the building will commence in September, with a completion date prior to Christmas 2018 and opening in January 2019.