Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Midsomer Norton High St Regeneration Programme?

The High Street Regeneration Programme began in 2020 with the allocation of Midsomer Norton as a High Street Heritage Action Zone (HSHAZ). This was a 4 year community-led project funded by Historic England, the West of England Combined Authority, B&NES Council and Midsomer Norton Town Council. The HSHAZ designation came to an end in March 2024 but has been used as a catalyst for further successful funding bids allowing a number of key projects to continue beyond the end of the HSHAZ.

The project seeks to improve the High Street by providing:

  • A new multi-use Market Square at The Island;
  • Refurbishment works to the Town Hall;
  • Repair and restoration of High Street shopfronts and signage;
  • Conservation Area and ‘heritage asset’ enhancements (e.g. improvements to the public realm, seating and historic buildings);
  • A Cultural Programme of community events and activities; and
  • A masterplan covering the lower High Street, or Old Brewery Quarter

What is the Market Square project?

The Market Square project will deliver 1,000sqm public realm enhancement, creating a new Market Square at The Island. This flexible and attractive civic space will provide a space for community events and activities (including markets), support local businesses and community groups and enhance the High Street and surrounding areas, while further information on the Market Square project stream can be found here.

Construction is underway with Volker Highways appointed as the principal contractor to deliver the scheme. The scheme includes a complex strengthening regime of the below ground culvert for the River Somer to reduce maintenance liability and protect the future of the Market Square. See below for further details on funding etc.

What is the Old Brewery Quarter Masterplan?

We have secured funding for the preparation of a masterplan covering the lower High Street , South Road and Excelsior Terrace (including car park) and centred around the former Midsomer Norton Brewery building. Work beginning in April 2024 to set out a development strategy and identify potential land acquisitions for a town centre mixed use development scheme. Funded by the Housing and Regeneration Enabling Fund (managed by WECA).

What is the Shopfront and Signage Improvement scheme?

The Shopfront Improvement Scheme will support local businesses and property owners to renew and improve shopfronts, facades and signage through the provision of match funding and paid-for professional advice. This project stream will also include a comprehensive Shopfront and Façade Survey of the High Street and the creation of Shopfront Design Guidance. So far, we have delivered 8 improvements including those at Pure Taste and Nisi. Funding secured from Historic England and B&NES through developer contributions via the Community Infrastructure Levy. More information on the Shopfront Improvement Scheme can be found here.

What is the Town Hall Restoration project?

As part of this project the Town Hall was transferred back into community ownership and now the Town Council are leading on the restoration of the Grade II listed building to bring back the Market Hall and restore the building to its former glory. The new Market Hall will support community, cultural and civic events and activities, and complement the use of new Market Square outside. The High St Regeneration programme, through the HSHAZ, has provided over £1m of grant funding support to the Town Council to deliver this project. Funding secured from Historic England, UK Shared Prosperity Fund (managed by WECA) and B&NES through developer contributions via the Community Infrastructure Levy.

Market Square:

How are the Market Square works funded?

The Market Square project is primarily grant funded by the West of England Combined Authority and Historic England, through the Love Our High Streets fund and the High Street Hertiage Action Zone programme, respectively. These two grants are specifically designated for use in improving High Streets across the WECA area and nationally. Further funding has been secured by B&NES through developer contributions via the Community Infrastructure Levy.

How long will the Market Square works take?

Construction work began in April 2024 and is programmed to take until January 2025.

Why is the Market Square programme 10 months long?

This is a technical project which includes the relocation of the carriageway, new drainage infrastructure, wider pedestrian areas laid with natural Yorkstone and a Victorian culvert which carries the River Somer to the lower High Street and requires structural strengthening given its age and deformity.

What is happening to the Tonw Hall bus stop that was removed?

The Town Hall bus stop was removed to facilitate the deliver of the Market Square project. A new route has been agreed with bus providers and buses will instead re-route along the lower High Street and stop at the Hollies bus stop. Works are planned to upgrade this bus stop, widen the pavement, provide real-time information and a second bus shelter in the summer of 2024. While the works are underway there is a temporary bus stop on Silver Street, opposite Silva House Vets.

What is happening in South Road car park?

A section of South Road car park is being used as the site compound for the construction of the Market Square. The site compound is used to store materials, plant and the welfare units for the contractors. The area has been kept to a minimum while still providing a segregated access to ensure the health and safety of the public with large construction vehicles entering and exiting the site regularly. While alternative sites were sought in the local area, to avoid a reduction in the availability of car parking in the town, no suitable alternative was identified. The site compound will be required for the duration of the construction programme.

Market Square myth busting:

          We hold regular site meetings, depending on scope and the subject, they make take place on site or in the office and may involve the whole site gang, individuals or/and consultants.

          This is a very technical build. Tolerances are marginal and there are lot of measurements to be taken. It may appear that works have stalled but time spent prepping the site and checking levels and dimensions will pay off later in the programme.

          We try to resolve design issues ahead of programme, however, if there is an unexpected complication that affects the rest of the build works may pause temporarily.

          We have aligned a programme with utilities works. Whilst the utility provider undertakes their works there may be a short pause (one or two days) in the programme lasting.

          Weather both cold and wet conditions may result in delays.

          Complication River Somer culvert, which runs under The Island and is being strengthened as part of the scheme may result in delays given the age and poor condition of the structure.

          If the programme extends due poor time management and workmanship the contractor bears the costs. On flipside if they finish ahead of programme then they keep any gains they have made. To put it simply there are incentives in finishing ahead of programme.

          Work undertaken is measured and checked daily. The contractor only gets paid for works undertaken in the payment period.

Who is funding the
High St Regeneration Programme?
The High St Regeneration Programme is funded by various organisations, initiatives and local stakeholders. This includes:

  • £889,000 from Historic England through their High Street Heritage Action Zone initiative (click here for more details);
  • £1,702,000 from the West of England Combined Authority through their ‘Love Our High Streets’ scheme;
  • £450,000 from the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (managed by the West of England Combined Authority);
  • £100,000 from the Housing and Regeneration Enabling Fund (managed by the West of England Combined Authority);
  • £488,000 from B&NES Council from the Community Infrastructure Levy, regeneration and highways budgets; and
  • £45,000 from Midsomer Norton Town Council.

What improvements are being made to the High Street and Conservation Area?
The Midsomer Norton Conservation area is considered to be ‘at risk’ due to its poor condition and improvements to public spaces, street furniture, signage and tired and run-down buildings are recommended. The Conservation Area and Heritage Asset Improvement project stream seeks to address these issues through High Street public realm enhancements, street furniture renewal/decluttering and heritage asset repairs (e.g. for listed structures and locally-listed buildings). Further information on the Conservation Area, Heritage Asset and High Street public realm improvements can be found here.

What is the plan for the South Road Access?
The South Road Access is an important pedestrian route from the South Road Car Park to the High Street which is now in poor condition and poorly-lit. Unfortunately, this area is privately-owned and not a Public Right of Way which makes improvement works difficult to implement. Nevertheless, early-stage, conceptual improvements will be considered as part of a master planning exercise for the former brewery sites to take place from 2024 onwards.

How can I get involved or contact the High St Regeneration Project Team?
There are many ways to get involved with the Project and more opportunities will come forward as the individual project streams progress.

For further information, or to discuss the project in more detail, please feel free to contact the HSHAZ Project Manager, David Gosset, by email: [email protected]