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Yeovil town centre set for refresh with final public realm designs ready to be delivered

| Your Area South

Yeovil town centre is set to receive the highly anticipated transformational changes to the public realm areas following the completion of work on its final public realm designs.

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.

South Somerset District Council recently announced that four contractors had been appointed to deliver the public realm improvements across the regeneration sites of Chard, Wincanton and Yeovil. Now that the four contractors have been appointed, mini bidding competitions for each piece of work can commence.

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 businesses within the streets to minimise the impacts on them as much as possible. 

Councillor Peter Gubbins, executive member for Yeovil Refresh, said: “We are really excited to unveil these final plans for the public realm areas of Yeovil town centre so the public can see what changes will happen in the area over the next few years. There’s a mix of additional space in areas such as Westminster Street which will make entering the town centre seem more appealing, more recreational space in areas such as The Triangle whereby people can congregate and watch entertainment and there is also carefully thought out travel routes through the town centre with new paving, signage and safety features.

“All of these changes to the public realm will really enhance the town centre and help deliver the District Council’s vision to make Yeovil a better town centre where shops can flourish, visitors can enjoy the experience and there is a blend of residential and commercial within the town to help it become more sustainable into the future.

“The Yeovil Refresh programme aims to create a town centre that will be a vibrant place to live, work, shop, learn and visit, with a number of key projects being delivered as part of the work. As part of that work, the District Council has been looking at how the public spaces can be improved to enhance the experience in the town centre for everyone.

“Designs have focussed on reducing clutter in the town centre and making the areas more appealing for people to visit. For example, the Triangle will see a complete transformation and could become a central focal area for visitors to congregate and enjoy activities.

Over the next fortnight, we will be releasing more details on each of the final designs for the public realm areas in Yeovil town centre and you can view the designs all online at www.yeovilrefresh.co.uk.”

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.

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.

What is the Yeovil Refresh project?

The Yeovil Refresh project aims to create a town centre that will be a vibrant place to live, work, shop, learn and visit. Working with consultants and key partners, South Somerset District Council has been exploring how it can best invest in Yeovil’s future.

Consultation events were held in 2018 to help us identify priority projects. Here’s a recap of what you told us:

  • You’d like to see the main high streets kept clean and better kept with nicer planters and other greenery, while keeping the streets from being too cluttered.
  • You’d like to see improvements in vehicular and pedestrian access into the heart of Yeovil for locals and visitors
  • There are concerns about some vehicle access to parts of the town centre (in particular on Middle Street)
  • You’d like to make the town’s open areas more appealing, using the space that is available to encourage visitors.

From the feedback obtained, the following priority projects were set:

  • Assessing further pedestrianisation of parts of Middle Street.
  • The creation of a Public Realm Design Guide to help shape the use and look of open spaces in the town centre. (This was delivered in the earlier part of the year and has been formally adopted for use in planning decisions.)
  • An assessment of access to the town centre
  • A review of car parks in Yeovil (assessing current and future provision, cycle parking, electric charging points and more)

Yeovil Refresh projects will be delivered over a 4 to 5 year programme with an early priority given to the initial priority projects above.

Why are you investing time, money and effort into regenerating Yeovil town centre?

Yeovil is the primary market town in South Somerset and when you visit, we want you to have a great experience so that you want to come back.

But it’s not just about visiting the town centre; we want to provide opportunities for people to live there, with a mix of housing so that residents will shop local and create a vibrant town centre that other people will want to visit and retailers will want to be a part of. Offering a variety of choice to dine is also important and will help independent and national businesses to flourish in Yeovil.

Thank you. You response is appreciated.

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