Work on the redevelopment of the Firepool site will begin within weeks – at a cost to taxpayers of nearly £7million. Somerset West and Taunton Council have attempted to regenerate the former cattle market site in Taunton town center (which has been vacant since 2008), with the aim of providing a mix of homes, commercial units, a hotel, a cinema and possibly a multi-purpose venue. .
The council’s planning committee approved two sets of plans for the site in March, which would raise the land to compensate for the risk of flooding from the River Tone and allow the first commercial elements to arise. The council has now revealed construction work could start in early June – and revealed its chosen contractors could earn up to £6.85million for this aspect of the work.
The two sets of plans approved by the planning committee on March 17 are designed to begin delivering regeneration while addressing underlying issues with the wider site – particularly in relation to flood prevention and the ongoing problem phosphate levels on the Somerset Levels and Moors.
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To this end, one request involved demolishing the old auction house on Canal Road and raising the surrounding land to prevent flooding from the river. The other application was for the former GWR offices (dubbed ‘Block 3’ in the Firepool masterplan), which will see a new office block erected to provide employment space, with commercial outlets on the ground floor. pavement.
The existing GWR offices will also be converted and extended to provide a new restaurant, with outdoor seating overlooking the wider site. The existing temporary cycle and pedestrian path crossing the site will be diverted during construction, allowing the first works to be carried out on the northern part of a boulevard which will cross the entire site and provide a direct link between the station and the town center (via Somerset County Cricket Club).
At the time of planning approval, the council issued tenders for the works on the BidStats website, which allows private companies to bid for central and local government contracts. The council estimated that the necessary drainage and leveling work on the site would cost up to £350,000, while the wider delivery of ‘Block 3’ could cost up to £6.5million.
Artist’s impression of the new Firepool Boulevard looking towards Canal Road (Image: LUC)
The board did not disclose specific budgets for each aspect or the contractor chosen for each tender, citing commercial sensitivity. However, he promised work would start less than a month after local elections for the new Somerset unitary council, which will take place on May 5.
A spokesperson said: “These figures express the expected value of the contract based on a pre-contract assessment by cost consultants, to give a budget in which contractors take into account inflation and contingencies. Only the drainage and grading tender has progressed so far, once the prescribed waiting period is over, we will be able to disclose who has been awarded the contract.
“For the drainage and leveling aspect, work will begin at the end of May or the beginning of June.” The council – and by extension the unitary authority that will replace it in April 2023 – plans to spend nearly £29million on the Firepool site by the end of the 2024/25 financial year, according to published figures half-March.
Artist’s impression of a public green space near the new Firepool Boulevard (Image: LUC)
This includes £13,427,000 for the construction of ‘Block 1’ (the houses in the south-east corner of the site), £10,352,000 for conversion works to the existing car parks and £5,156,000 for the ‘Building infrastructure’. general phase 1.
In addition to the two aspects of the site being tendered, work is expected to start shortly on the delivery of the new access road linking the site to the A3087 Trenchard Way, following a separate planning approval in early February.
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This notice was published: 2022-04-27 23:00:00