New Market Square at The Island
The Island: Proposals for the Market Square
Although historically a key civic and commercial space adjacent to the Town Hall, the Island has suffered from underinvestment for many years. This is partly due to its heavy use as a car park, its irregular layout and narrow, uneven footways. This has resulted in an unattractive area which is unfriendly to pedestrians and unsuited to local businesses, public transport links and the function of the Grade II-listed Town Hall.
Therefore, the proposals for a new Market Square at The Island seek to create a flexible and attractive public space which will support various civic, commercial and cultural events and activities (including markets), promote local businesses and community groups and enhance the High Street and surrounding areas.
This will be achieved through:
- The development and delivery of approximately 970sqm of public realm improvement works;
- The provision of a welcoming, safe and attractive public space with high-quality surface materials, street furniture and events infrastructure;
- The provision of flexible car parking capacity to support local businesses and events, including two new fully-accessible spaces, a loading bay and vehicle turning point;
- Support for the transformation of the Midsomer Norton Town Hall, including new accessible steps and ramps to the refurbished Market Hall from the new civic space; and
- Improvements to the ‘at risk’ Conservation Area and enhancements to the setting of nearby heritage assets and locally-listed buildings.
How has the new Market Square at The Island been designed?
The proposed designs for the new Market Square were the result of partnership working between community stakeholders, public realm professionals and officers at Historic England and B&NES. As shown below, the new space has been designed to accommodate a variety of different functions and can be configured to facilitate day-to-day use, markets, special events or a mix of them all.
A community consultation on the concept designs for the new Market Square was held between November-December 2020. The consultation report can be viewed here. These concept designs were positively received by the community and the constructive feedback received is now being used by the HSHAZ Project Team to revise and improve the proposals alongside further technical work and surveys. The new and improved designs will be published for further feedback in early 2023.
How much will the new Market Square cost and when will construction works begin?
The proposals for the new Market Square will be funded from a number of sources. These include:
- £1,095,000,000 from WECA’s ‘Love Our High Streets’ Fund;
- £326,000 from Historic England;
- £80,000 from B&NES Council; and
- £20,000 from Midsomer Norton Town Council.
The total cost of the Market Square works are estimated to be in the region of £1.2m.
The Market Square project is nearing the end of the detailed design phase and the design team and engineers are currently responding to the Road Safety Audit to ensure the scheme is compliant with highway safety standards. Further investigations are underway of the Victorian culvert of the River Somer which passes under the Market Square. There have been some delays in getting to this point and it is expected that construction works will begin later this year.