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Wincanton Town Centre Regeneration steps up a gear in 2021

| Your Area East

A year after it was first established, Wincanton Regeneration Board’s programme of work is progressing well and will become more visible in 2021.

South Somerset District Council's (SSDC) Wincanton Town Centre Strategy aims to boost footfall and help create a more vibrant town centre, in which Wincanton's businesses can flourish.

The strategy sets out four locations for improvements to the town’s public realm which include improving the pavements, roads and seating areas which people use.

In November, Phil Jones Associates were appointed as the lead contractor for the design phase and they are currently developing outline designs for schemes in the Market Place, Carrington Way central and eastern High Street.

An engagement session was held with key stakeholders in early December 2020 and the ideas shared at this session will help to inform the current design work that will be published for consultation in early February 2021. The design process will continue through to June 2021 and will involve further consultation with the public and statutory agencies such as the highway authority.

Another important part of the overall programme is bringing about re-use of some key empty properties and improving other buildings in the town. A review of town centre properties has been undertaken and will provide a basis for discussion with owners and funders about enhancements which may be undertaken.

The Events and Activities Funding Programme which was launched earlier in the year will help community organisations and local businesses to put on a diverse range of events which will encourage people to visit the town. Two levels of grants are available, up to £5k for an individual business or organisation working alone or up to £10k for collaborations involving three or more businesses/organisations.

Since its launch in July 2020, funding approval of up to £42k has been given towards projects which will be the basis of a diary of events in 2021 once Government coronavirus restrictions allow these to go ahead.

Projects include:

  • Wincanton Town Festival’s ‘Wincanton in Lights’ event which includes bringing an ice rink to town
  • The ‘Charming Rat’ doorstep panto has a number of pop-up performances in the town
  • Wincanton’s first ‘soap box challenge’ is scheduled to take place in the summer; 
  • Wincanton Carnival Committee also has an undertaking for funding to underwrite the cost of the illuminated carnival which is due to be held in October 2021 (and the subsequent two years).

These are just some of the proposals being supported. There is a real mix of projects and ideas so hopefully something to appeal to everyone, no matter what your age!

The funding will be available over the next 2-3 years and the hope is that these early events will be the start of a regular programme which encourages people to pop into town and support the town’s businesses. Events organised by local businesses and organisations for people to enjoy. You can find out more about our Events and Activity Grants on our website.

Councillor Henry Hobhouse, portfolio holder for Wincanton Town Centre Regeneration Programme, said: “It has been a challenging 12 months for town centres and independent retailers across the country but the regeneration proposals for Wincanton will help to improve the town centre environment and encourage people to visit, helping boost footfall and dwell time as we ease out of the pandemic. Do also keep an eye out for more information about the Public Realm consultation coming soon.”

As part of their shared commitment to this work SSDC and Wincanton Town Council have agreed to fund a part-time job, to help support the local projects and co-ordinate events. Susi Calder, a familiar face for many businesses due to her involvement with Wincanton Chamber of Commerce, will begin work in January.

Sue Shelbourn Barrow, Chairman of Wincanton Town Council, said: “This is an exciting time for the Town of Wincanton, its residents and businesses. The joint appointment of Susi, our Project and Development Co-ordinator, in December 2020 continues to strengthen the partnership between South Somerset District Council Regeneration Programme and Wincanton Town Councils plan Wincanton for the Future. The year 2021/22 is the continuation of the collaboration to enable our town to thrive.”

The Regeneration of Wincanton town centre is one of South Somerset District Council’s regeneration programmes that aims to create a better future for residents and that will make South Somerset a great place to do business, with clean inclusive growth and thriving urban and rural businesses.

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