Work set to begin on series of public realm improvement schemes in Yeovil town centre

Work is set to begin in Yeovil from Monday 20 September which will help improve the look of the town centre and fundamentally change how you can move around, making it easier and more accessible.

Above: Councillor Peter Gubbins (Executive Member for Yeovil Refresh), left; Ian Timms (Yeovil Refresh Project Manager), right; Chris Bartlett (Operations Director from Midas Construction), second left; Kerry Lane (ESP Coordinator from Midas Construction), second right – at the junction of Westminster Street to celebrate the start of public realm works at the site. 

Westminster Street in Yeovil will be the first area in the town centre to see improvement work under the Yeovil Refresh public realm enhancements that will help to improve the look of the town centre for shoppers, businesses, residents and workers.

Midas Group have been appointed to undertaken the scheme of work at Westminster Street with a start date of the week commencing 20 September 2021 set.

Midas Group will first of all need to prepare the area which will see a site compound erected at South Street car park and will be clearing the site of clutter.

When work commences, full details of any road closures will be published at www.yeovilrefresh.co.uk/westminsterstreet. There will be signs put in place in advance of any closures at the roundabout approaching the town centre.

Work in Westminster Street is set to be completed before the end of 2021 with work on other parts of the town centre having started by then, with more details on the next scheme to follow in the coming weeks.

The public realm enhancement work will change the areas that people move or congregate around and will make areas more attractive to residents, visitors and businesses. There are a total of six areas of the town centre which will see changes including Westminster Street, The Borough, upper Middle Street( including Wine Street), Middle Street (East), Middle Street (West) and The Triangle.

Councillor Peter Gubbins, executive member for Yeovil Refresh, said: “I’m really pleased to see work commence in the town centre. This is a real priority programme for South Somerset District Council and it’s more important than ever, with high streets reopening after the global Covid-19 pandemic, to create an experience in the town which people will enjoy and will want to come. It will also entice businesses to come to Yeovil as they see more and more investment in the town centre.

“Westminster Street is a key gateway into the town centre because there is a lot of footfall that flows from Tesco car park to the town centre. We want to ensure that when people first step into the town, they see something they like, they find it appealing and want to come back to Yeovil because of the pleasant experience.”

Chris Bartlett, Operations Director from Midas Construction, added: ‘We’re delighted to be delivering the first phase of Yeovil Refresh for South Somerset District Council’ ‘The thoroughfare from Tesco in to the main town centre is such an important link and will really set the tone for all of the improvements to come’ ‘Our community liaison team are working from our office in the centre of town, keeping locals abreast of progress and at the same time working with local charities, schools and of course Yeovil College to maximise work and training opportunities locally’

 

Nationally, the old traditional high street idea that town centres are filled with rows and rows of shops is outdated. We want to create an experience where the high street offers a mix of housing, service industry and shops to help counter the effects of online shopping. Multi-stores are starting to decline in town centres and we are increasingly seeing a new norm of bijou style shops, cafes and independent traders.

 

Clean Air and reduced pollution in town and city centres is becoming increasingly important. As a local authority we have designed a place which strives to improve the air quality in the town centre. We will reduce traffic in the centre of the town which helps improve air quality for residents and visitors; and with Yeovil having an air quality action plan, we can make great strides in ensuring we help to meet our environmental targets in our Environment Strategy.

What is the Yeovil Refresh project?

The Yeovil Refresh project aims to create a town centre that will be a vibrant place to live, work, shop, learn and visit. Working with consultants and key partners, South Somerset District Council has been exploring how it can best invest in Yeovil’s future.

 

Consultation events were held in 2018 to help us identify priority projects. Here’s a recap of what you told us:

  • You’d like to see the main high streets kept clean and better kept with nicer planters and other greenery, while keeping the streets from being too cluttered.

  • You’d like to see improvements in vehicular and pedestrian access into the heart of Yeovil for locals and visitors

  • There are concerns about some vehicle access to parts of the town centre (in particular on Middle Street)

  • You’d like to make the town’s open areas more appealing, using the space that is available to encourage visitors.

 

From the feedback obtained, the following priority projects were set:

  • Assessing further pedestrianisation of parts of Middle Street.

  • The creation of a Public Realm Design Guide to help shape the use and look of open spaces in the town centre

  • An assessment of access to the town centre

  • A review of car parks in Yeovil (assessing current and future provision, cycle parking, electric charging points and more)

 

Yeovil Refresh projects will be delivered over a 4 to 5 year programme with an early priority given to the initial priority projects above.

Why are you investing time, money and effort into regenerating Yeovil town centre?

Yeovil is the primary market town in South Somerset and when you visit, we want you to have a great experience so that you want to come back.

But it’s not just about visiting the town centre; we want to provide opportunities for people to live there, with a mix of housing so that residents will shop local and create a vibrant town centre that other people will want to visit and retailers will want to be a part of. Offering a variety of choice to dine is also important and will help independent and national businesses to flourish in Yeovil.

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