Archived press releases

The following press releases predate South Somerset District Council becoming part of Somerset Council in April 2023:

Yeovil Refresh: High Street, Hendford and the Borough to close to vehicular traffic as next phase of Public Realm works progress

31 March 2023

The next phase of planned Yeovil Refresh public realm enhancement works will commence on 11 April 2023, focussing on shared space improvements to High Street, Hendford and Borough. This will involve the closure of High Street, Hendford and Borough to all vehicular traffic for a period of 36 weeks.

Why closures to these streets are necessary:

By closing these roads, we ensure that the works will be undertaken with greater efficiency, enabling the general public and workforce involved to operate in the safest possible environment

  • In partnership with our local bus companies, it has been agreed that a full road closure ensures the avoidance of any doubt or confusion among the public, that large scale works are in progress, for a specified period of time
  • By undertaking the work within a full road closure, the works can be completed efficiently, reducing programme durations which will minimise overall disruption and keep the project within budget
  • Emergency vehicle access can and will be maintained at all times
  • All affected parties will be consulted with, to ensure deliveries and refuse collections are suitably coordinated
  • Time and financial implications: based on previous delays to works where 24/7 road closures were not possible, calculations show that there would be significant increase to cost and would take an additional four to five months to complete

Key points:

  • Pedestrian access will be maintained throughout the duration of the works
  • Physical access to businesses will be maintained in order that businesses will be accessible during their working hours
  • An alternative bus route has been made and agreed with bus operators
  • An alternative stop will be provided in Court Ash for the duration of works. Buses will then travel on to the bus station in Glovers walk as usual. Temporary bus stop signage and timetable advice will be provided at that location.
  • There will however be a period of a couple of weeks when utility companies will be working on the diversion route. We will share these details with users once available
  • Our partners, SWH Contracting Ltd. are liaising with businesses in High Street Hendford, and Borough to ensure deliveries and bin collections are facilitated over the period of this closure
  • Access to the taxi rank in Silver Street for hackney carriages will be via Middle Street. There will be a need to make alternative arrangements when finishing work is carried out on the junction of Middle Street and the Borough. This comes at the end of the works so information will be provided at that time to hackney carriage operators
  • Blue badge parking in High Street will not be accessible over the duration of works. Blue badge holders should use nearby spaces in Princes Street or a range of alternative parking on street locations across the town centre or spaces provided in public car parks

Cllr Peter Gubbins, Portfolio Holder for Yeovil Refresh commented:

“We are excited to begin this phase of the programme which will, once complete create improved shared spaces that are greener and easier to navigate.

We do however appreciate the disruption that businesses, residents and visitors to the High Street will experience over the duration of the works, and are working hard with our partners, SWH Ltd. to ensure these are minimised, with alternative provisions in place wherever possible.”

The Yeovil Refresh programme is split into four themes which will be delivered by a number of different stakeholders. These are broadly defined as:

  • Developments. This relates to bringing forward empty buildings and stalled development sites within the town centre
  • Public Realm enhancements.  Improvements to core streets including Westminster Street, High Street, Borough, Middle Street, Triangle and Wyndham Street area. This will create a better shared space which will be greener and easier to navigate. A new events square will be created at the Triangle
  • Transport system changes. Changes to road systems, additional cycle ways, improved walking routes, review of bus routes, car parking improvements and possible highways junctions
  • Soft interventions.  This includes events programmes, markets, management of spaces in the town, evening economy changes and a range of other economic activities

Work began in September 2021 with the public realm improvements, the first areas of focus being Westminster Street, Triangle and Wine Street. Work to the High Street is scheduled to commence on 11 April 2023. 

Yeovil Refresh: Agreement to proposals ensures value and a better future for the town centre

17 January 2023

Proposals to amend elements of the public realm enhancement works which form part of the Yeovil Refresh project have today been agreed by South Somerset District Executive.

The decision will enable works to continue as planned and to ensure uncompromised delivery of public realm enhancements, transport upgrades and town centre investment for the long-term benefit of residents, businesses and visitors to the area.

Councillor Peter Gubbins, Portfolio Holder Yeovil Refresh commented:

“While we recognise the disappointment that many will feel in respect of the delays and disruption that the Yeovil Refresh project has faced, this council is committed to ensuring the successful delivery of what will undoubtedly be an exceptional town centre development once completed.

As with many projects of this scale and complexity, Yeovil Refresh has been subject to economic impacts outside of the council’s control. Despite these, significant progress has been achieved to date: Wine Street has been pedestrianised, with new paving and drainage work successfully completed as has the completion of work to BT chambers, in November 2022. Regeneration works on Westminster Street South have been substantively completed with work continuing on Westminster Street North. At The Triangle, significant work with utilities has been carried out to enable the creation of the entertainment space. More widely, work is being undertaken behind the scenes to develop a transport scheme which will be built over the next 18 months.

The proposals put forward sought to redefine certain elements of the project scope to reflect current forecast costs, without compromising the integrity and original vision of the programme. I am pleased that the proposed project amendments have been approved and that the project can continue to successful completion.”

The full published report and proposals can be viewed here:
South Somerset District Council Agenda, decisions and minutes – District Executive – 5 January 2023

Yeovil Refresh

Yeovil Refresh is an ambitious and innovative programme which will transform Yeovil as South Somerset’s main retail and leisure centre, through a range of projects and interventions. It aims to deliver a comprehensive package of public realm improvements to transform the visitor experience, increase pedestrian safety and provide a new multi-use square for events and activities. The enhancement work will positively change the areas that people move or congregate around, creating experiences and making spaces more attractive to residents, visitors and businesses alike.

This investment will also access and stimulate investor confidence in adjacent empty units, with a focus on existing derelict and vacant buildings. Unlocking town centre sites by addressing viability constraints will deliver much needed housing to support the sustainability and vitality of Yeovil’s town centre.

The programme is split into four themes which will be delivered by a number of different stakeholders. These are broadly defined as:

  • Developments. This relates to bringing forward empty buildings and stalled development sites within the town centre
  • Public Realm enhancements.  Improvements to core streets including Westminster Street, High Street, Borough, Middle Street, Triangle and Wyndham Street area. This will create a better shared space which will be greener and easier to navigate. A new events square will be created at the Triangle
  • Transport system changes. Changes to road systems, additional cycle ways, improved walking routes, review of bus routes, car parking improvements and possible highways junctions
  • Soft interventions.  This includes events programmes, markets, management of spaces in the town, evening economy changes and a range of other economic activities

Work began in September 2021 with the public realm improvements, the first areas of focus being Westminster Street, Triangle and Wine Street. Work to the High Street is scheduled to commence in mid-January 2023.

Yeovil Refresh: Next steps and proposed amendments to ensure value and a better future for the town centre

23 December 2022

South Somerset District Council (SSDC) is considering proposals to amend certain elements of the public realm enhancement works which form part of its ambitious Yeovil Refresh project.

This comes as a result of a detailed review of forecast budget brought about by unprecedented global economic pressures impacting the delivery of construction projects both globally and domestically.

The impact of these pressures, together with project specific risks which have occurred and may continue to occur, forms the basis of the report published today.

The report seeks approval from Council Members to redefine certain elements of the project scope to reflect current forecast costs and enable the completion of the project. The full published report can be viewed here: Yeovil Refresh Scope Change Request

Yeovil Refresh

Yeovil Refresh is an ambitious and innovative programme which will transform Yeovil as South Somerset’s main retail and leisure centre, through a range of projects and interventions. It aims to deliver a comprehensive package of public realm improvements to transform the visitor experience, increase pedestrian safety and provide a new multi-use square for events and activities. The enhancement work will positively change the areas that people move or congregate around, creating experiences and making spaces more attractive to residents, visitors and businesses alike.

This investment will also access and stimulate investor confidence in adjacent empty units, with a focus on existing derelict and vacant buildings. Unlocking town centre sites by addressing viability constraints will deliver much needed housing to support the sustainability and vitality of Yeovil’s town centre.

The programme is split into four themes which will be delivered by a number of different stakeholders. These are broadly defined as:

  • Developments. This relates to bringing forward empty buildings and stalled development sites within the town centre
  • Public Realm enhancements.  Improvements to core streets including Westminster Street, High Street, Borough, Middle Street, Triangle and Wyndham Street area. This will create a better shared space which will be greener and easier to navigate. A new events square will be created at the Triangle
  • Transport system changes. Changes to road systems, additional cycle ways, improved walking routes, review of bus routes, car parking improvements and possible highways junctions
  • Soft interventions.  This includes events programmes, markets, management of spaces in the town, evening economy changes and a range of other economic activities

Work began in September 2021 with the public realm improvements, the first areas of focus being Westminster Street, Triangle and Wine Street. Work to the High Street is scheduled to commence in mid-January 2023. Full details about the programme, its ambition and purpose can be found at Yeovil Refresh.

Summary of proposed amendments

Work to date has been subject to challenges which have fallen outside of the council’s control. Global economic factors have played a significant role: high inflation, labour shortages, limited supply and rising costs of construction materials continue to impact the delivery of large-scale and innately complex developments of this kind.

The council recognises that these coupled with project specific risks related to undertaking groundworks, associated utilities diversions, third party delays including defective work undertaken by the former contractor, Midas, as well as the unexpected underground discovery of structures including cellars, unmapped services and contaminated material, have resulted in significant impact on both the forecasted costs and pace of delivery, of what will, once completed, be a flagship town centre development.

In total costs have been forecast to increase by £4.2m [see Table 1 of the full report], of which savings of £3.78m have been identified and for which proposals are being put forward. The remaining £0.427m is proposed to be covered by a pre-existing project contingency budget along with a proposal for £0.395m as a further contingency in light of potential future risks associated with the project’s construction works.

Key amendments proposed and mitigation:

  • Agreement of identified savings as a result of a value engineering exercise

Saving: £0.719m

  • Changing the proposed ‘tree pits’ in High Street and Middle Street East to raised planting areas. The ‘tree pits’ entail utility diversions to allow for the tree roots, which the raised areas would not require

Saving: £0.435m

  • Reallocation of SSDC funds for construction of new cycleways leading into the town centre of £1.2m (external funding of £1.17m has been secured to deliver the cycleways scheme)

Reallocation: £1.2m

  • Reallocation of complementary initiatives funding towards the large screen in the Triangle

Reallocation: £0.146m

  • Agreement to remove costs deemed as extremely unlikely

Saving: £0.58m

  • Agreement to alter the design of the Middle Street East section rather than remove entirely which would work to the detriment of the project and reduce intended outcomes

Saving: £0.7m

  • Utilisation of available project contingency

Contingency: £0.427m

Total: £4.207m

  • Future contingency sought: £0.395m

Delivering Yeovil Refresh

The proposals published today seek to mitigate the escalating costs associated with the current economic landscape and ongoing financial pressures being faced, with the overriding intention of ensuring effective progress and uncompromised delivery of the Yeovil Refresh project for residents, businesses and visitors to the area.

The report will be discussed at South Somerset District Council’s District Executive meeting on Thursday 5 January 2023.

Date set for second phase of improvement works to Westminster Street, Yeovil

28 October 2022

The second phase of rejuvenation work to Westminster Street, Yeovil, is set to begin on Monday 31tst October.

As part of South Somerset District Council’s Yeovil Refresh Project, contractors South West Highways (SWH) will commence work to the northern side of the street.

Work will include:

  • laying fresh natural stone paving and new road surface
  • installing a new kerb line with increased pedestrian space
  • upgrades to the drainage system
  • the addition of new seating areas and sustainable street planting

The works are due to be completed by February 2023.

SWH have already completed the works to a short section of Wine Street and are currently carrying out the major works to The Triangle on schedule. Most recently, SWH have completed the first phase of works to Westminster Street, which consisted of the installation of new paving, extending pedestrian space and upgrading drainage systems.

Councillor Peter Gubbins, executive member for Yeovil Refresh, said, “It is fantastic to see the remaining work to Westminster Street commencing and our partnership with SWH continuing. As an increasingly busy area, connecting the High Street to Tesco and its car park, it is vital that the pavement and roads are fit for purpose. These works will increase the ease of movement, safety and accessibility for visitors to the town centre. It will also increase the attractiveness of the area, encouraging more footfall for local businesses.

I would like to thank all local businesses, residents and visitors to the area for their patience during this time.”

This area is a key gateway into the town centre and, therefore, footfall and traffic volumes are high. To avoid as much inconvenience and safety risks as possible for visitors, some occasional night work will be taking place. We understand that this may impact nearby residents. SWH have set up a dedicated hotline which will provide an update to end times when night working. Residents can call the hotline at any time on 07511 440668.

These works commence on nights for the first 8 weeks before reverting to daytime. Initial planned working times are Sunday to Thursday night between 6pm and 6am. Daytime planned working times will then be Monday to Friday between 7:30am and 6pm. When working at night, all vehicular access to Westminster Street will be closed. Pedestrian access will be maintained.

Where possible, SWH will minimise the noise impact of work activities. This will include:

  • Using quieter plant and equipment, including the use of electric powered machinery.
  • Phasing our works so noisy activities are undertaken earlier in the night shift.
  • Using acoustic barriers to absorb the noise created by the works.

If there are any issues regarding access or parking arrangements during this time, the SWH Project Team can be contacted on 07542 100267 or via email at yeovil@swhltd.co.uk            

Businesses will remain open and accessible during their usual opening hours, as well as Christmas and late night shopping hours.

We will work with SWH to ensure residents and local businesses remain informed of the progress of the works. A public notice board will also be onsite, displaying the latest key information.

Yeovil Town Centre improvement works push forward as major contracts signed

18 July 2022

Contracts for the proposed improvement works at The High Street, Middle Street and The Borough in Yeovil have been signed, meaning this important work can commence imminently.

South West Highways (SWH) are the chosen contractors for this works. SWH have completed the works to a short section of Wine Street and, most recently, begun the works at The Triangle. SWH are also leading the restart to the works to Westminster Street and are now contracted to complete the second phase of improvements to the street.

The improvement works, which are part of the South Somerset District Council Yeovil Refresh Project, are planned to include:

The High Street

  • Enhancing and decluttering the setting of the area’s key feature – the clock tower
  • Widening footpaths – increasing pedestrian space with natural stone paving
  • Improving street lighting to help reduce anti-social behaviour and increase safety
  • New bench seating and street planting to create a bright, welcoming area for visitors to socialise and take a break from shopping

The Borough

  • An enhanced paving scheme – using natural stone paving to complete the pedestrianisation of the road leading to Wine Street
  • Improving the square to enable more activity
  • Enhancing the area surrounding the war memorial with additional seating and street planting
  • Improving the areas creating a shared space with reduced through traffic.

Middle Street

  • A flexible shared space to help facilitate street markets and other events.
  • Provision of specific parking bays in specified areas of the street.
  • Widening footpaths – allowing pedestrians to move easily and safely through the town centre without having to step out onto the road
  • Installing raised seating planters, street trees and ornamental planting to make Middle Street a greener, more attractive place to visit and travel through
  • Improving the street lighting and adding new bench seating

SWH said, “We are really looking forward to continuing our partnership with South Somerset District Council & key stakeholders to construct the High Street, Borough and Middle Street sections of the Yeovil Refresh Project”.

Councillor Peter Gubbins, executive member for Yeovil Refresh, said, “It has been great working with SWH to carry out the important works to Wine Street, The Triangle and Westminster Street, so I am happy to see that the partnership will continue with the commencement of the exciting plans for the remaining areas of the town centre.

The High Street, Borough and Middle Street are, arguably, the busiest areas of the town centre and so the proposed plans are vital to increase the safety for visitors, as well as ensuring their shopping and socialising experience is as pleasant as possible.”

What is happening to the bottom of town/Wyndham Street?

In February 2022, a budget for the Yeovil Refresh public realm works was agreed. However, since then, the cost of delivering all areas of the public realm works has significantly inflated. This is due to the large rises in material costs, broader inflationary pressures and the availability of labour. These changes have been driven by a combination of factors, which include the Covid pandemic, the war in Ukraine, high levels of inflation and significant local infrastructure projects such as A303 improvements and Hinkley Point.

At the Council District Executive Committee meeting on 9 June, the District Executive agreed to recommend that the funding currently allocated to Wyndham Street to be reallocated to the completion of Westminster Street, Middle Street and The Borough. This means that the improvement works proposed for Wyndham Street are temporarily paused, however, a report outlining new options for the area will be brought back to the District Executive next month (August 2022).

Last reviewed: January 16, 2024 by Adam

Next review due: July 16, 2024

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