Debenhams 1

Helping to preserve the architecture of Taunton

Arts Taunton continues to play a busy role in helping to preserve and enhance the architecture of Taunton, both in terms of its built heritage and future plans.

There have been enormous expansions of the town in almost all directions in recent years, much of it with little of the character of the area. However, Somerset West & Taunton Council has at last acted to provide solid and well-researched design guides to make clear to developers the standard expected from planning proposals. Arts Taunton campaigned hard for this and we will remain alert to ensuring developers take these guides seriously – and to council planners implementing their own recommendations. At present, there is an additional degree of uncertainty in the whole Garden Town area caused by the imminent shake up of local government, but we are committed to establishing warm and constructive links with whatever team is in place going forward.

Meanwhile, the future of the former Debenham’s building remains uncertain. We have strongly condemned the plans by the building’s owner, Ropemaker (an arm of BP’s pension fund), to demolish this fine structure, and at the time of writing it is for sale. Our campaign has received strong backing from SAVE, the superb architectural heritage campaign group, and the Twentieth Century Society. The former’s fascinating report on department stores features Taunton’s Debenham’s prominently and is well worth reading (see link below). In a town not noted for modern architecture, the Debenham’s building brings metropolitan glamour to the heart of the county town and it would be a disaster to lose it.

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