Create Streets review of plans for 4,500 homes at Monkton Heathfield

A MAJOR road could be decommissioned to ensure a village where 4,500 new homes are being built is more pedestrian and cyclist friendly.

That is one of the conclusions of a review by consultancy Create Streets of the council’s concept plan and design guide for Monkton Heathfield.

A report from Create Streets, which was commissioned by Arts Taunton, says the ‘vision’ is “road-led, not place led”.

The council’s guide outlines plans for an eastern relief road to replace the A38 dual carriageway, which would be reduced to a single lane.

But Create Streets says: “Why not decommission the A38 altogether?”

Its document argues that the council needs to “place the pedestrians and cyclists at the top of the street hierarchy” and create “a car-free, pleasant environment”, which would also reduce infrastructure costs.

Create Streets calls for “more clarity” in the plans, saying: “The document (guide) fails conclusively to map out exactly the type of architectural standards it hopes to achieve.”

Among suggestions are potentially moving a spine road, which is currently proposed to dissect the centre of the development; smaller parks and squares across the scheme; distributing employment uses evenly across the site; and relocating the bus and ride from the edge to the centre of the project.

Kit Chapman, of Arts Taunton, said: “We believe that the report provides an opportunity for the council to sponsor a development that meets all modern standards of excellence, is green and sustainable, beneficial to the health and well-being of residents and visitors alike, and is fully befitting of Taunton’s garden town status”.

He has requested a meeting to discuss the Create Streets ideas with Cllr Federica Smith-Roberts, leader of Somerset West and Taunton Council.

She said: “I would like to thank Arts Taunton and the many other community groups and local residents who responded to our recent consultation on the new draft design guide for the Monkton Heathfield Garden Community.

“We are committed to delivering high quality sustainable new development in Taunton and throughout the district.

“We adopted a Vision for the Garden Town in 2019 and we require all major development proposals to follow our Garden Town Design Charter and Checklist. We’ve also published a draft design guide for the whole district.

“The Arts Taunton review has given us some good ideas and we are working with their consultants, Create Streets, to expand parts of the draft guide.

“We will continue to engage with the local community and Arts Taunton as the plans for the garden community at Monkton Heathfield move forward this autumn.”

Somerset County Gazette | News