TRADE and tourism in Taunton are in danger of falling further behind the competition after the announcement of plans for a unique leisure and tourism destination at junction 27 of the M5.

That’s the view of the town’s taskforce group, TauntonForward, who believe the ambitious plans for a surf park and man-made lagoon, as well as a worldclass concert venue and lifestyle outlet village at junction 27 for Tiverton could see the town fall further down the South-West’s pecking order.

Kit Chapman, proprietor of The Castle Hotel and a member of TauntonForward, said: “The junction 27 development is bound to take away from Taunton just as Cribbs Causeway and Exeter take away from Taunton.

“We need to make Taunton an interesting place to visit so people don’t go off to these other places.

“So many of our wives, friends and so on do their shopping anywhere they like but Taunton.

“Developing Firepool and Coal Orchard is important for Taunton – we need things that are going to attract people to Taunton to shop and for leisure, whatever that might be.

“We’re being overtaken and you can now add junction 27 to that.

“Junction 27 just illustrates the need for Taunton to get up on its feet and start running.”

The junction 27 proposals, christened Westwood, also include plans for hotels and an artisan area featuring food and other products from across the region.

Developers estimate that the attraction could create as many as 3,500 jobs.