Earlier this year Bridgwater was one of 100 towns asked by the Government to come up with plans for sustainable regeneration over the next 30 years with as much as £25m of public money available to support suitable proposals. This once-in-a-generation opportunity for a major refresh means that the Board responsible for managing the process is reaching out to the community for feedback on its ideas so far. A Bridgwater Town Deal Board was formed soon after the Government announcement and today the Board has published its Vision, Aims and Priorities which it is inviting residents, businesses and other stakeholders to view.
For more information about the Town Deal click here
The deadline for completing the survey is October 20th. It is quick and easy to complete and can be accessed here .
The Bridgwater Town Board is made up from representatives from local government, community, organisations and administered by Sedgemoor District Council. The Board which is chaired by an independent person from the private sector (in Bridgwater’s case, this is Fiona McMillian, former College Principal) is constituted from the following organisations – Bridgwater and Taunton College; Bridgwater College Trust; Bridgwater Town Council; Bridgwater Chamber of Commerce; EDF Energy (Hinkley Point C); Heart of the South West Local Enterprise Partnership; Jacobs Engineering Group; KMW Commercial Properties; Member of Parliament; Network Rail; Sedgemoor District Council; Somerset Community Foundation; Somerset County Council; Somerset Federation of Small Businesses and YMCA (Dulverton Group).
Repair and Recovery
Cllr Mick Lerry, (Victoria, Labour) is the Town Council Rep. Mick , the Portfolio Holder for Economy, is urging people to take part in the consultation saying “The repair and recovery of Bridgwater Town Centre will be even more important, due to the impact of Covid-19 and social distancing. Many retailers and small businesses are still struggling to survive, even though they have received Government funding and other measures to keep going. Coming out of the pandemic will also mean coming out of recession. We know that many Town Centres were struggling before the impact of Covid-19 the pandemic has produced extra challenges for the community of Bridgwater and the Town Centre”.
Bridgwater Town Council has produced a submission for the Bridgwater Town Deal, which Mick believes will help the repair and recovery of the Town Centre,.
Visions and Ambitions for consideration by the Town Board
Relating the criteria of the Town Fund and the Investment Plan, the Bridgwater Town Council wish to submit the following proposals to be consider for prioritisation
Regeneration and Heritage
Completion of the Celebration Mile, which would include the following areas, where the design features have already been completed by Arups for the updated Bridgwater Vision:
1 Signage and bus service from the Railway Station as the Station upgrade was not complete.
2 St Johns Street-work already carried out by Arups
3 Eastover including pedestrianisation or “Home Zone” for Eastover, Town Bridge and Binford Place.
4 Clare Street-work in progress
5 Angel Crescent
6 Northgate and Brewery Field part of Accelerated Funding 750K. Consideration could be given to creating a “Home Zone” or traffic calming measures for pedestrians and cyclist crossing at Anson Way.
7 Bridgwater Docks, renewal of Lock gates and Pedestrian footpath, plus the closing off the Bascule Bridge to traffic, as part of the cross-town cycling and pedestrian way, which includes West Quay and Binford Place.
8 Bowerings Mill: it will be important for the Brick building and Harlequin Chimney to be retained as part of the Heritage for the Town. Mill could become a Museum for the Docks with a Café and Workshop Rooms.
9 Investment could also be used to attract other Heritage funding for Bridgwater Docks and the development of a new Governance Body, when the dilapidations are completed by SCC and Canal Trust.
1 Reference has already been made to the Cross-Town cycling and pedestrian route, from Blake Gardens to Chilton Street.
2 Need for Cross-country rail service to stop at Bridgwater. Bridgwater Station needs to be a gateway into Bridgwater as well out to other destinations such as Bristol and Exeter. Especially the weekend late night service.
3 Public Transport, such as convenient bus service connecting people living in Bridgwater with the Town, to allow for inclusion and a good Public Transport service with surrounding rural area.
4 Bristol Road and Bath Road safe cycle and pedestrian routes.
Skills and Enterprise Infrastructure
1 Empty units in the Town Centre could be used for starting up small businesses or by the Bridgwater and Taunton College for students and apprentices. These units could also be used for students to apply practical experiences. Such as Catering and Hospitality.
2 Town Team could organise Training programmes for the Independents and Small businesses within the Town Centre and High Streets. This should also include the Kick Start opportunities for new businesses and entrepreneurs. The Town Team also has representatives from local businesses and Chamber of Commerce. Support could also be given to business in the Town Centre for repurposing and for operating under Covid-19 guidelines.
3 Outdoor markets and Festivals could also be part of the Town Team yearly programme.
1 “Seed”: Sedgemoor Creative People and Places, the Town Investment Fund could be an important contributor to this development, which has matched funding of over 1 million. Cultural venues in Bridgwater could have a planned offer, to pull audiences and people into Bridgwater.
2 The Sedgemoor Creative Project and Places is about enhancing the communities experience in Art and Culture.
3 There are several important Cultural Centres/Buildings in Bridgwater that will need investment during the recovery period, post Covid-19.