Yeovil Refresh: The story so far and how you are making a difference

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It is almost a year since we first invited residents and business to learn more about Yeovil Refresh – South Somerset District Council’s plan to create a town centre that will be a vibrant place to live, work, shop, learn and visit.

A lot has happened since then and a lot will be happening in the coming years. Remember, working with partners, retailers, residents and developers, South Somerset District Council wants to:

  • Strengthen and support the town's retail centre
  • Improve the quality of public and green spaces
  • Encourage good access to the town, making it convenient and attractive to move through
  • Increase the quantity and quality of residential development in the town centre
  • Support the hospital and college's objectives for innovation and development
  • Celebrate the town's heritage, art and cultural offer
  • Encourage healthy living opportunities
  • Increase the number of things to do to encourage people to spend more time in the centre
  • Increase mix of uses to creative vitality throughout day and evening
  • Increase the number and diversity of employment opportunities
  • Create an exciting calendar of markets and events

Change of the scale envisaged by Yeovil Refresh will not happen overnight but needs to be carefully planned and built if it is to be effective and long lasting. Much of the early work has been laying the foundations for the more significant elements to come.

Key events have included:

2018

  • March – This marked the start of consultation on proposals. Families, residents, businesses and shoppers were invited to learn more about the Yeovil Refresh proposals in the Quedam shopping centre and on line. There were maps and information boards, and this was followed by an extensive period of public consultation to receive feedback on the proposals which have influenced the project. Consultation closed at the end of June 2018.
  • May – Resources and governance to deliver the Yeovil Refresh were agreed by Full Council.
  • July – The Yeovil Refresh Plan and key priorities were finalised. The team that will deliver Yeovil Refresh was put in place
  • October – Work commenced in conjunction with Somerset County Council to improve the accessibility of the town centre examining the road system, cycling and walking routes in the centre of Yeovil and more. This work will inform the future development of the infrastructure of Yeovil. This work is ongoing.
  • The Cattle Market site was secured for redevelopment by the owners of the Quedam, Benson Elliot, who are working with SSDC on plans to redevelop the site and create an exciting new space in the town centre.
  • November – Consultation work was carried our regarding the town centre’s car parks. This will inform a plan to make improvements to the car parks and signage with the car park at West Hendford earmarked for particular improvement.
  • The Martin Group confirmed its purchase of Glovers Walk and is working with South Somerset District Council on plans for development and improvement of this area (SEE CASE STUDY BELOW).
  • As part of plans to improve the public realm, public consultation took place to consider what changes could be made to Middle Street to improve access for pedestrians. Following the results, Somerset County Council will now be considering a traffic regulation order to pedestrianise the area near Marks & Spencer and relocate blue badge spaces a short distance to nearby roads. Redefining the width of the pavements will see improvements for wheelchair users and parents with buggies and prams while removing vehicles and other obstructions also benefits to people with visual impairments who find it difficult to navigate the many obstacles and barriers. The proposals will also create a more pleasant environment for all users of this part of the town centre. The work is ongoing.
  • December – We invited tenders to be submitted for organisations interested in delivering a fresh new look for the public spaces in the town centre. Residents will be asked for their views later this year on the plans which will encourage people to visit and stay longer in the town. By providing an attractive, less cluttered environment and improving areas like the Bandstand, which will create more space for special events and markets.

2019

  • January – The process of creating a plan to improve cycling and walking routes in Yeovil was initiated with Government support with the aim of delivery commencing in 2020.

And we will provide details of all the activity taking place through the rest of 2019 and 2020 as soon as we can so you remain fully informed. This includes our aim of seeking your views on our proposals to refresh the public spaces in the town centre with the ambition that work can be carried out in 2020.

Crucially, the work that has been undertaken to date is delivering increased confidence in the outlook for Yeovil and driving investment in the town.

Cllr Peter Gubbins, executive member for Yeovil Refresh: “Some incredibly important work has been undertaken to put the building blocks in place which will allow us to deliver real change for Yeovil and start to realise the ambitions of the Yeovil Refresh.

“We know regeneration has been promised before. With Yeovil Refresh, there is a clear vision, motivation and desire to achieve change. We want to create a dynamic town centre that we can be proud of and celebrate.

“It can’t all be delivered overnight and it will take time to realise all the plans. However, confidence is already growing. We already have some of the UK’s biggest and best retailers - alongside facilities and landmarks such as the outstanding Octagon Theatre and nearby Yeovil Country Park – and more are coming.

“During the year, new businesses such as Nando’s, regional café chain Boswells, Dunelm, Turquoise Kitchen, Aldi, Take No Wrap and more have all commitment to Yeovil by either opening stores or announced plans to come to the town while. This is despite a national trend which saw 5,000 stores close in town centres across the country in 2018 alone.

“Your views will continue to be important to shape these plans and we hope you will continue to engage with us at every opportunity.”

CASE STUDY:

The Martin Property Group announce it has acquired the Glovers Walk Shopping Centre in Yeovil in late 2018.

Glovers Walk is a 2.2 acre site which is a significant part of the town centre comprising a retail parade along Middle Street as well as a courtyard of shops on Glovers Walk. The acquisition of the site also included the town centre bus station. The property was previously owned by Columbia Threadneedle.

The Martin Property Group has stated that the part vacant shopping centre is in line with its investment strategy of expanding our portfolio through selective acquisitions of challenging assets where repositioning is required. It has also spoken of its ambition to maximise the asset’s important and strategic location by working closely with south Somerset District Council as part of Yeovil Refresh and that it is in the early stages of drawing up a masterplan for redevelopment of the site.

The Martin Property Group is a family owned investment and development company with major development projects across the UK & Ireland including numerous other town centre redevelopment projects.

Gary Martin, Group Director at the Martin Property Group, said: “The Yeovil Refresh Plan will act as an important framework for the regeneration and will be utilised in conjunction with close consultation with the key stakeholders. We are excited to have invested in Yeovil and to have the opportunity to work on such an important site within the town centre. We are also realistic about the challenges currently facing retail and the work we have required to reposition the property. We have received a fantastic reception to date and we look forward to building on these relationships going forward.”

Peter Gubbins, executive member for Yeovil Refresh said: “We are really excited to see what the Martin Property Group can bring to this site and it’s immensely positive to see how engaged it has been with our Yeovil Refresh plan. This is a huge opportunity to bring real change to this part of the town centre and we look forward to seeing what this relationship can deliver.”

Thank you. You response is appreciated.

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