Plans to convert former Taunton jail in Burton Place into homes approved

PART of Taunton’s former police station will be turned into new homes after plans were approved by district councillors.

Taunton’s police officers moved out of their base on the A38 Shuttern, opposite the crown court, in December 2019 as operations relocated to Deane House on Belvedere Road.

Exeter-based developer Photinia applied to turn part of the complex – which dates back to its use as a jail in the 1750s – into six new houses, with access from Burton Place.

Somerset West and Taunton Council has ruled that this conversion can take place – with councillors welcoming the prospect of the wider site being redeveloped further down the line.

The plans came before the council’s planning committee when it met virtually on Thursday afternoon (September 17).

The existing terraced building on Burton Place – which was used by the Territorial Army back in 1910 – will be converted in two one-bedroom, one two-bedroom and three three-bedroom houses.

A spokesman for Collier Planning (representing the applicant) said this was “an important first phase to help kick-start the redevelopment of the former police station site”.

The council has been in discussions with the developer over how the rest of the police station should be redeveloped since January, though no formal plans have yet come forward.

Due to the site’s proximity to the town centre, no parking spaces will be provided on-site – and Somerset County Council has said residents would not automatically qualify for parking permits.

Councillor Mark Lithgow welcomed the redevelopment of a brownfield site, adding: “I quite agree with the no car parking in these type of areas.

“If it was in the middle of nowhere with no public transport, that would be a different issue. This is right in the middle of town.

“It’s the way forward – if we don’t start using places like this, they will just sit there and rot.”

Councillor Dixie Darch said it was “a terrible shame” that the building had not been brought back into use earlier.

Councillor Loretta Whetlor added: “I’m pleased that these buildings are being used in this way. It’s a really good use for the buildings, rather than turning them into offices.”

Councillor Brenda Weston, however, questioned whether the majority of the new homes would be suitable for families wanting to live near the town centre.

She said: “I do feel that it’s not a suitable place for family homes. There are severe restrictions on them – at the rear there’s only a very small garden area.

“The nearby rifle range building looks like it is imposing on the housing – it’s kind of a crowded area.

“I think this is much more suitable for potential retirement homes, as a lot of retired households don’t need cars anyway.”

The committee ultimately voted to approve the plans by a margin of 12 votes to one.

Somerset County Gazette | News