The long awaited proposals for the Northgate site will be unveiled to the public this weekend at an initial consultation exercise in Bridgwater’s Angel Place Shopping Centre (16th/17th October) with the plans then being taken widely into the Community for comment. On November 26th the Bridgwater Town Development Forum will receive a presentation along with a business case from Somerset County Council regarding the proposed new school.
Corporate Director Doug Bamsey introduced the initial report at the Executive saying that he had listened to key stakeholders-prominently including the Town Development Forum, and 3 options had been drawn up thus far which would be put into the public domain.
OPTION 1: Leisure,retail and greenery
Sees a landscaped open space and high quality public realm on the site of the exisiting Brewery Field, enhanced and developed as a ‘through route’ from Angel Crescent to the Docks with a couple of retail kiosks alongside it. It envisages losing a small section of Brewery field to the east of the path, but this being replaced elsewhere over the current carpark entrance and utilising the site of the Blake Hospital for the proposed Primary school. This proposal also sees a Leisure Complex (possibly incorporating a multiplex cinema)with ground floor retail on the site of the Splash . The option also sees a potential retail use on the corner of Anson way/Northgate-with the suggestion that this could possibly be a ‘discount supermarket’. Car parking would be reduced and would fit into a small section at the end of Blacklands-but accessible by undercroft, and a larger section on the grounds of the enterprise centre accessible from Northgate.
OPTION 2: A Hotel option
Sees the enhanced Brewery field as above and the school, Leisure centre and car parks in the same locations, however it differs in area 7 (anson way/Northgate) where they suggest a Hotel pub restaurant use.
This option maintains the revised green space and the town centre linkage
OPTION 3: A Housing element
Sees the same proposal for enhanced Brewery field,leisure complex and car parking but moves the school to the corner of Anson Way/Northgate and offers ‘residential use’ in the form of Townhouses/Apartments alongside the path onto Anson way.
Housing is seen as a way of part funding the project and they cite the nearby Police Station development as a succesful Town centre scheme.
Town Council Leader urges ‘engagement’
Speaking in response to the presentation at the executive Town Council Leader Cllr Brian Smedley (Westover) said “Some of these proposals will be very acceptable to the people of Bridgwater. We have always argued for keeping and even enhancing the green space, maintaining a town centre public realm for instance, urging the focus on providing a leisure facility that can draw people into the town centre and that whatever is devised is compatible with the existing town centre. We are also keen to see a connection from Town Centre to Docks as envisaged in the Bridgwater Vision.”
Cllr Smedley continued “We have to however, point to areas where we might have disagreements. Firstly we have stressed that every endeavour should be made to retain or incorporate the historic buildings of Blake Hospital into whatever development results and secondly we remind you that there has been very little support for housing on this site. Also we reserve judgement on the proposed school until County delivers the business plan that it promised. This should crucially include addressing the parking issues and highway matters already flagged up. Crucially, however, we welcome the recognition of Bridgwater Town Development Forum as a key named stakeholder and would urge the public to fully engage in this consultation so that the Forum and both Councils have a clear picture of what is and isn’t wanted when we finally consider the Options for this site.”
‘Widen the consultation’
Cllr Ann Bown (Con,Wembdon & Cannington) said “I welcome the consultation but we’re not going to please everyone. However, this consultation shouldn’t just go to Bridgwater it should go out to the Parish Clusters and to the people outside of the town who will use it. I don’t agree with a pub opposite the Admirals landing as pubs are closing everywhere and I don’t agree with a discount store, it should be a multi-store”
Kerry Rickards (Chief Executive SDC) said he was concerned that it might look like SDC was giving land to SCC so they could build a school.
Doug Bamsey said it was a matter of readjusting to get what was best. “Basically we have a car park and they have a brownfield site.”
The proposals will be on view this weekend (16-17 October) in Angel Place Shopping centre between 1000 hrs and 1400 hrs..
Plans will be on show in Bridgwater House reception from Monday 19th October and presented to the Town Development Forum on November 26th. In the meantime the public is urged to express their opinions..