Bath City

Historic building near Taunton Pool could be saved in council U-turn Bath City News

A historic building near one of Taunton’s swimming pools could be saved following a turnaround by city councilors.

Somerset West and Taunton Council own Flook House on Belvedere Road, opposite its Deane House head office and a short distance from the Taunton Pool.

The council voted in December 2020 to demolish both Flook House and the nearby disused public toilets, arguing that the cost of repairing or upgrading buildings is unduly high.

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But that decision could now be overturned after opposition advisers demanded that the building be kept for its “historical interest and potential future social value.”

The issue was debated by the council’s community review committee at its meeting in Taunton on Wednesday evening (June 30).

Council estimated in December that it would cost £ 22,000 to make short-term repairs to Flook House and then an additional £ 220,000 to modernize the building to ensure its long-term survival.

Flook House on Belvedere Road in Taunton (Image: Daniel Mumby)

In contrast, the demolition of the toilet block and Flook House (which is not on the list) would cost the council just £ 110,000.

Councilor Marcus Kravis, portfolio holder for asset management and economic development, said a number of options for the building’s future use have been discussed since Christmas.

He said in his written report: “There has been a lot of discussion about what types of use are being sought, and which tenants and rentals would be preferred as there is a range of options – including current types of use. to a community center, city council offices, or an art gallery and workshop. “

Taunton currently does not have a city council, as the capital was not a parish following local government reforms in the mid-1970s.

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A city council could, however, be created by 2023 under two competing visions for the implementation of unitary authorities in Somerset, with the government expected to announce the winning option by July 22.

The council proposed setting aside up to £ 125,000 to produce a business case for how Flook House should be redeveloped or improved.

Councilor Hazel Prior-Sankey said the building was ‘little used’, generating just £ 12,000 in rent a year from its current tenants, and wondered if so much money should be spent.

She added: “It may have historical significance – I think my mother worked on it in the 1940s.

Flook House on Belvedere Road in Taunton

“While this is a nice project to do, I’m not quite sure this council can really afford to invest that money – it’s just for study, and then some money will have to be spent. for what the study says.

“There is space in Deane House that we can rent to people who would perform the same function. We’ve probably let our hearts run our heads here.”

Councilor Loretta Whetlor, on the other hand, described Flook House as “a fascinating building”, adding: “I don’t think demolishing it is the best thing to do.

“We could do great things here. I know the money has to come from somewhere, but if you look at some of the things that we spend money on, I think it’s something worth it. .

“It’s better to spend £ 125,000 and try to fix something than not to bother.”

Councilor Dave Mansell added, “I’ve worked in the voluntary sector quite a bit – and something the voluntary sector looks forward to is low rents, and you often find yourself in unusual buildings as a result.

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“It is clear that the building serves this function now, and it is a function for which it is suitable.”

The board executive is expected to formalize this decision at its July 21 meeting.

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This notice was published: 2021-07-02 03:00:00

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