Casework

Former Debenhams Store, Taunton, Somerset

Promoting development of an appropriate scale in town centres

The demise of the large-format department store across the country means that many key town-centre sites are now facing redevelopment. The former Debenhams Store in Taunton is one such example. The existing store was built in the 1960s and while it is unlisted, it has an impressive mid-century elevation with great proportions and strong, low-slung, horizontal lines. It stands at the gateway to Taunton’s town centre and adjoins two conservation areas and several listed buildings.

Historic Buildings & Places responded to an initial pre-application consultation with the developer. Few of the changes we suggested were made however, so we objected to the planning application. We argued against the loss of a building which currently makes a positive contribution to the local townscape and expressed concern about the impact which the scale, mass and design of its proposed seven storey replacement would have on the adjoining conservation areas and heritage assets.

Our submission noted that the complete loss of the existing Debenhams building would represent harm to Taunton’s historic environment through the loss of an attractive historic building and the that new building would be out of keeping in scale and design with the historic urban streetscape. The application is pending.

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