Plans to build flats on former Taunton Debenhams store scrapped
PLANS to build nearly 100 flats on the site of a former Taunton department store have been officially scrapped.
Taunton’s Debenhams store closed its doors for the last time on May 2, 2021 after nearly 60 years of trading, after one of Britain’s oldest and most established retail brands entered administration.
The store on North Street has remained vacant ever since, with Ropemaker Properties applying to demolish the structure and build 92 flats and a smaller commercial outlet in its place.
But Somerset West and Taunton Council has now confirmed that these plans had now been withdrawn by the developer – meaning the future of the site remains in the balance.
Councillor Mike Rigby, portfolio holder for economic development, planning and transport, confirmed the news on its official Facebook page on Monday evening (March 20)
He said: “The planning application by Ropemaker Properties to demolish the former Debenhams building on North Street, Taunton has been withdrawn by the applicant following an indication that it would be refused by the council.”
The former store lies at 19-26 North Street, opposite the entrance to Taunton’s ‘independent quarter’ and a stone’s throw from the recently redeveloped Coal Orchard site.
The store is bordered to the north and west by the River Tone and Goodland Gardens, which includes the first rainbow path opened on the UK mainland.
Since the store closed, it has remained relatively unchanged, save for a series of boards detailing Taunton’s history which were installed by the council in March 2022.
The plans’ withdrawal has been greeted warmly by Historic Buildings and Places, which had argued the demolition would harm Taunton town centre’s existing heritage and cultural identity.
A spokesman tweeted: “We originally objected to the application noting that the complete loss of the existing Debenhams building would represent harm to Taunton’s historic environment through the loss of an attractive historic building. and that the new building would be out of keeping in scale and design with the historic urban streetscape.”
Taunton residents put forward myriad suggestions in January for how the building should be brought back into use – including an indoor market, a roller rink and a laser tag facility.
The property – which comprises some 7,460 sq m of commercial space – is currently being marketed by Alder King.
While no guide price has been made public, the estate agent estimates that the annual rateable value of the property will be £320,000.