A SCHEME to regenerate “defective” housing in Taunton will be “a flagship for the garden town”, the local council has promised.

Taunton Deane Borough Council has been working with residents of north Taunton on a scheme to replace or refurbish Woolaway homes, which were declared “defective” by central government in the mid-1980s.

Around £45M could be spent on the regeneration scheme over a period of ten years, with more than 100 homes being demolished and replaced.

As the new Somerset West and Taunton Council prepares to take the scheme forward from April, officers have assured elected members that the new homes will be built to a high standard and reflect the community’s need.

Members of the new council’s shadow scrutiny committee met in Williton on Monday evening (January 4) to discuss the proposal – the first time that many West Somerset members had been briefed in detail on the matter.

Project manager Rosie Walsh promised that the disruption to the area’s more vulnerable residents would be kept to a minimum.

She said: “With Phase A we will ensure there is one move only for the most vulnerable in our community. We will make sure they have one move into a new-build home.”

The first phase will also involve the construction of a new community centre, following feedback from local residents.

Ms Walsh added: “People have told us it is really difficult to hold a children’s party nearby, or that they want to do yoga but they haven’t got the space.

“This will provide not only high-quality housing, but a great new facility in the area.”

The initial phase of the scheme will cost around £7.2M – of which £534,000 will come from the sale of right-to-buy properties and the remainder from external borrowing.

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PLANS: Part of the planning, design and access statement for the redevelopment

Councillor Peter Pilkington questioned the materials which would be involved in the construction, claiming the Woolaway homes had exceeded their expected lifespan.

He said: “I wonder whether alternative methods would be more cost-effective. These homes raised two generations of families.”

Jo Humble, the council’s lead housing specialist, said the council would explore different construction options when awarding the contracts for Phase A.

She said: “When we go out to tendering, one of the options will be whether off-site construction is feasible.”

Councillor Federica Smith-Roberts asked about the environmental impact of the scheme, and what was being done to make the area greener.

She said: “At Cranbrook near Exeter, they have fruit trees in every garden.

“I also want to know what will be the impact of Brexit and Hinkley Point C on construction – has this been taken into account?”

Ms Humble responded that phasing the regeneration would mitigate any skill or labour shortages caused by either eventuality.

She added: “We will go into procurement for Phase A first.

“As there is no need for other external funding, we don’t have to meet deadlines for when such money has to be spent.

“This is a garden town scheme. We are planning to provide street trees and allotments, depending on the community’s needs.

“We hope this scheme will be a flagship for the garden town.”

The scheme will be further discussed by the shadow executive on February 11, with the shadow full council due to give the final approval on February 21.

Somerset West and Taunton Council will officially replace Taunton Deane Borough Council and West Somerset Council on April 1.