New vision for town's High Street
By Somerset Guardian | Thursday, November 08, 2012, 11:00
Midsomer Norton could see major changes including a new supermarket with underground parking and pedestrianisation of part of the High Street.
The radical ideas were presented to Midsomer Norton Town Council this week by a company which had been brought in to identify ways to rejuvenate the town centre.
Now calls have been made for Bath and North East Somerset Council to sell South Road car park to a supermarket chain to enable the redevelopment.
The town council wants to push ahead with plans to redesign the town centre to include a 45,000sq ft supermarket on the car park and the redevelopment of the derelict Palladium and brewery site.
On Monday, councillors voted unanimously in favour of adopting the findings of the report, by Strategic Planning Advice Ltd in association with Lunson Mitchenall and FSP Architects and Planners, which looked at how the town centre could be improved from Fat Sam's nightclub to the former cinema site.
It identified two projects that need to go ahead for the town to "achieve its potential" – the development of a large food store on South Road and creating retail units and a business hub while retaining the historic features of the Palladium and brewery.
It suggested that the vibrancy of the town centre would also be improved if the Hollies Gardens could be redesigned to provide space for entertainment and a market, and if the lower part of the High Street from Martins to the Town Hall could be pedestrianised.
The report also highlighted the need for the Town Hall to be redeveloped, including reinstating the original 1860s ground floor hall.
It goes on to say that the projects could be funded by commercial investment, supplemented by funding from the public sector and contributions from developers. Cash sources from the Revolving Infrastructure Fund from the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership could also be used.
Mayor Paul Myers, who also represents the town as a Conservative councillor on B&NES, said the council wanted to look at how the town could be improved for future generations and to ensure a strong retail heart.
Councillor Barry Macrae (Con, Midsomer Norton North) praised the town council for developing a retail strategy and said he was 100 per cent behind it but encouraged them to "push ahead with urgency" to combat forthcoming applications for supermarkets elsewhere in the area.
Mr Macrae said: "At long last there is a major stride forward in something that has been waffled about for a very long time."
He called on the town council to keep developing the plans despite the fact B&NES's draft Core Strategy has been stalled to include more housing.
Mr Macrae accused B&NES of neglecting outlying towns and villages and focusing on Bath city centre, and said South Road car park must be sold as soon as possible to allow progress to be made.
He said the plans laid out by the town council were in keeping with the draft long-term planning document.