Two projects that will boost the economy of Taunton are in line to get almost £6m of Government funding.
The projects are among 12 selected to go to the next stage in gaining funding from the Government’s Getting Building Fund after the Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership was awarded £35.4m from the national £900m pot.
Businesses cases will now be made to support the £5.5m bid for the proposed Digital Innovation Centre on the Firepool site and £400,000 for Firepool and Taunton Railway Station access
Somerset West and Taunton Council (SWT) is working closely with Somerset County Council on the bids for the projects that support employment, regeneration, skills, innovation and clean energy.
Cllr Marcus Kravis, Executive Member for Economic Development at SWT, said:
“These schemes align with our development ambitions as the first Garden Town in the South West, and are an essential part of our plans to attract growth, jobs and investment.
We have been working closely with SCC, Digital Taunton and other stakeholders to maximise the potential of this high quality innovation, office and collaboration space and have earmarked a specific location on our flagship Firepool site allowing it to be delivered concurrently with other residential and leisure elements.
“The current regeneration of the railway station with the entrance re-orientated to face directly into Taunton will greatly improve the visitor experience to our County town and is of wider benefit to the whole area. SWT will deliver a temporary footpath and cycle way that will link the new station entrance to the river front, allowing direct access through Firepool to the town centre. The main boulevard is being delivered as part of the enhanced public realm package of works through the Firepool project.”
Councillor David Hall, Cabinet Member for Economic Development, Planning and Community Infrastructure at Somerset County Council said: “This is excellent news as both schemes will help unlock the Firepool site and its potential.
“Digital innovation is the now the present as well as the future and having a dedicated centre in Taunton will act as a Somerset focal point in the wider South West region.”
The DIC will provide flexible innovation and collaboration space and support services targeted at new-start and existing businesses in, or moving into, the digital economy.
The prime town centre site would be served by public transport and cycling links and include an ultrafast dedicated and resilient broadband lease line.
Funding announced for the improved access and traffic signalling at Firepool and Taunton Railway Station will secure links to the station and the Firepool regeneration site.
It will allow Somerset County Council to build a signalised 4-way junction and pedestrian crossing on Trenchard Way, improving access to Taunton’s railway station where Great Western Railway is also building a new multi-storey car park.