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Five key changes you’ll see to Middle Street as part of the Yeovil Refresh public realm improvements

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It was recently announced that the highly anticipated transformational refresh changes to the public realm areas of Yeovil town centre are set to begin in the near future following completion of work on final public realm designs.

One of the areas set to see changes to the public realm is Middle Street area which will make the space more attractive to residents, visitors and businesses.

Artists' impression of Upper Middle Street

Image above: Artists' impression of upper Middle Street.

We’ve picked out five key changes to the area that you will see once work is completed:

Widened footways

We will be widening the footways along Middle Street so that users of the town centre have more space to move safely without having to step into the road. This helps with social distancing in areas such as Middle Street where pavements are narrow.

Raised seating planters, street trees and ornamental planting

We want to create a pleasant experience for shoppers to enjoy. Middle Street is one of the main shopping areas of the town centre and to assist with making the street more aesthetically appealing, we will be creating raised seating planters and introducing street trees and ornamental planting. Feedback during consultation on the public realm told us you wanted to see more greenery in the town centre, so we are introducing new street planting in a lot of the public realm areas. This will help to brighten the area up and also help with taking in CO2 and providing oxygen. Street planting also helps with land drainage and provides a habitat for wildlife.

Flexible paving space

The pavement space that we do create in Middle Street will be able to help facilitate markets and other events. This is important to ensure that we adapt our high streets in the town centre to fit and suit the needs of users and visitors. We want to make Yeovil town centre a place where people can enjoy their shopping.

Flexible layby area

With a Traffic Regulation Order in place which allows for Blue Badge Holder parking on one side of Middle Street and access only for deliveries, the flexible layby area also enables the street to be used for other occasional event uses such as food markets which we recently seen take place in the town centre in late 2020.

Improved street lighting and new bench seating

Improved street lighting in this public realm area will help with decreasing anti-social behaviour by ensuring it is well lit. New bench seating will allow town centre users to also take a break during shopping and enjoy the atmosphere or the town centre.

The public realm enhancement work will change the areas that people move or congregate around and will make areas more attractive to residents, visitors and businesses. There are a total of six areas of the town centre which will see changes including Westminster Street, The Borough, upper Middle Street (including Wine Street), Middle Street (East), Middle Street (West) and The Triangle.

Work is scheduled to start in early February and will be completed in a phased approach over a few years to ensure the town centre can keep running while the construction work is delivered, beginning with Westminster Street.

Throughout the design and consultation stages, businesses and residents have been consulted on what they would like to see and consideration to impacts have been taken into account. Through the build stages, we plan to work with the businesses within the streets to minimise the impacts on them as much as possible. 

Councillor Peter Gubbins, executive member for Yeovil Refresh, said: “Middle Street is a real pedestrian heavy route through the town centre and we see hundreds, if not thousands of people use this area of the town centre on a daily basis. Widening the pavements will assist with people feeling much safer in this area, not having to worry about stepping out into traffic. There are a lot of opportunities to use and utilise the space here so we have tried to keep the area as flexible as possible.”

Andrew Clancy, Managing Director of Coreus, who have been working with SSDC on Quantity Surveying, project management support and the public realm designs, said: “As a South Somerset resident, I am so pleased to be supporting SSDC in project and cost management works for the regeneration of Yeovil. The public realm works will regenerate the town and in a post Covid world help attract inward investment and economic development.”

Nationally, the old traditional high street idea that town centres are filled with rows and rows of shops is outdated. We want to create an experience where the high street offers a mix of housing, service industry and shops to help counter the effects of online shopping. Multi-stores are starting to decline in town centres and we are increasingly seeing a new norm of bijou style shops, cafes and independent traders.

Clean Air and reduced pollution in town and city centres is becoming increasingly important. As a local authority we have designed a place which strives to improve the air quality in the town centre. We will reduce traffic in the centre of the town which helps improve air quality for residents and visitors; and with Yeovil having an air quality action plan, we can make great strides in ensuring we help to meet our environmental targets in our Environment Strategy.

You can read more about the final public realm designs announcement on our website.

Yeovil Refresh website

We now have a Yeovil Refresh website where you can keep up-to-date with the latest news, view information and images from the projects and read all about the Yeovil Refresh programme. Visit www.yeovilrefresh.co.uk to see for yourself.

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