Midsomer Norton’s new Market Square

[Concept design for The Island, Midsomer Norton]

A big cash boost for a project to regenerate Midsomer Norton town centre following the approval of £895,000 in West of England Combined Authority funding for a new multi-use Market Square at the Island.

The Market Square will enhance the western end of the High Street, create an attractive, flexible outdoor space for community events, cultural activities and markets and support local businesses by encouraging footfall within the town centre.

The funding has been awarded to Bath & North East Somerset Council from the Combined Authority’s Investment Fund as part of the ‘Love Our High Streets’ grant programme.

It was formally accepted in a single member decision on March 1 by Councillor Richard Samuel, Deputy Leader and cabinet member for Economic Development and Resources.

The proposals for the project were developed as part of the High Street Heritage Action Zone Project in consultation with local residents, businesses and community stakeholders including the Midsomer Norton Town Council, Town Trust and Community Trust.

A community consultation on the concept designs was held from November to December 2020 with the plans positively received by local residents and the majority in favour of the scheme. The feedback received was used by the design team to refine the proposals, further improve safety for pedestrians and cyclists and encourage active travel.

Following the approval of funding, the development and consultation process for the new Market Square will continue as part of the technical design phase. On-site investigative works will take place from spring 2022 with further works anticipated to follow in the autumn once designs have been finalised.

The projected completion date for the Market Square is summer 2023.

Councillor Richard Samuel, Deputy Leader and cabinet member for Resources and Economic Development, said: “I’m delighted to accept this important funding for the regeneration of Midsomer Norton town centre. The new Market Square is going to create a flexible community space where exciting events will take place, drawing people in and encouraging investment. All the improvements we have planned for Midsomer Norton are part of our overall aim to support the local economy and revitalise the historic environment, making it a resilient town that’s fit for the future.

“Thank you to everyone who took part in our consultation. Your feedback has helped to shape designs which will promote walking and cycling, create an attractive outdoor environment and encourage people to shop local.”

Dan Norris, Metro Mayor of the West of England, said: “Our high streets are not just the centre of our towns, but an important part of how we live, work and share our everyday lives. They are where people meet old friends, receive a smile or a kind word. That is why regenerating our high streets and town centres is absolutely essential to the work of the West of England Combined Authority which I lead. This funding really will transform the lives of local people, spreading jobs and opportunities and giving the people of Midsomer Norton a high street that matches up to its rich history and bright future.”

The improvements form part of the wider £2.2m Midsomer Norton High Street Heritage Action Zone project and High Street Renewal Programme which include proposals to reinstate the Market Hall at the Town Hall, improve pedestrian links between the High Street and South Road Car Park, deliver shopfront and signage improvements and repair heritage assets within the town centre.

These project streams are supported by Historic England’s High Street Heritage Action Zone programme, B&NES Council, Midsomer Norton Town Council and Midsomer Norton Town Trust.

Midsomer Norton Town Council said: “Midsomer Norton Town Council are really pleased with the work planned for the Island. In the last two years the town has benefited from the Combined Authority’s support and will now benefit from this Love Our High Streets grant funding. This grant will also complement the funding provided by Historic England and others for the wider High Street Heritage Action Zone project, including contributions to the reinstatement of the ground floor Market Hall. Together, these projects will significantly improve the setting and function of the Island and its connection to the Town Hall, nearby buildings and High Street.”

Full details of the High Street Renewal Programme in B&NES can be found here https://beta.bathnes.gov.uk/BathnesHighStreetRenewal

Midsomer Norton is one of more than 60 high streets to receive funding as part of Historic England’s Heritage Action Zone programme. Awarded £981,000 from Historic England, the HSHAZ project is also generously supported by the West of England Combined Authority’s ‘Love Our High Streets’ Fund (£895,000), Bath & North East Somerset Council (£300,000), Midsomer Norton Town Council (£45,000) and Midsomer Norton Community Trust (£25,000).

The HSHAZ project is taking place from 2021-24 and will encourage sustainable economic and cultural growth in the town centre by improving the fabric and visual appearance of the High Street’s buildings and public spaces, enhancing its public perception and celebrating its heritage and community. This will be achieved through the delivery of:

  • A new multi-use Market Square at The Island;
  • Improvements to the Town Hall and adjacent shopfronts;
  • Improved pedestrian links to the High Street, including from the South Road Car Park;
  • High Street shopfront and signage improvements;
  • Meaningful community engagement including consultation, workshops, exhibitions and opportunities for co-creation; and
  • Delivery of a sustainable and inclusive ‘Cultural Programme’ of community events and activities, including the development of a comprehensive street markets offer.

The HSHAZ project is a joint partnership between Midsomer Norton Town Council, Bath & North East Somerset Council and Historic England with support from key local stakeholders. The project is heritage and community-led and will seek to benefit all by celebrating the best things about our town.