A HOTEL could still be built on the former livestock cattle market in Taunton.

But a four star 100-bed hotel would only go ahead at Firepool with "minimum financial commitment" from the council taxpayers' purse.

Proposals for the council to pay for the building and to then lease it to an operator have been scrapped.

The Conservative-led former Taunton Deane Council had lined up Hilton to lease a hotel built and paid for by the authority.

The LibDems in charge at Somerset West and Taunton Council, which replaced the Deane and West Somerset Councils, are still looking at having a hotel on Firepool.

A report to Wednesday's scrutiny committee says there are concerns over the Tory proposals due to it risking public money, the fact it might be difficult to sell the hotel and the need to commit "significant amounts of capital" to the project at a time when Firepool "will certainly require additional considerable council investment".

The report adds that a four star hotel, "particularly one that is an internationally recognised brand" would fit well in Taunton and would offer a sustainable town centre alternative to the Holiday Inn, at Blackbrook Gate, and the other motels and hotels in the town.

It says: "Our recommendation is that a premium hotel is needed for the town centre and that Firepool is the perfect location.

"We though need to further test the appetite for a third party to fund and take on the operator risk.

"A specialist hotel agent will be appointed to further test the market.

"The result of this exercise and a recommended way forward will be reported back to council."

Councillors will also look at building a 'performance venue' in Taunton, with Firepool described as "the ideal location".

The project would probably offer a space for live performances in all media; a covered seating arena; and a flexible space that could also accommodate conferences, events and fayres.

An expert is likely to be appointed to review the market for such a facility, to see how much car parking space would be needed to access it and to check out the likelihood of securing commercial investment for the scheme.

The report says: "It is expected that if this sort of proposal is viable, then it would be possible to have such a facility fully funded by private commercial investment, but a positive business case will be very challenging.

The council is looking at developing Firepool in six blocks as follows -


A block of around 20 two-bed apartments between the Acorn development and Viridor offices with living spaces facing the river view. Another block of flats would face out over the river and over the county cricket club's ground. Work on this could start next year.


Terraced town houses over three and four storeys and some apartments. Work could also start next year.


Probably office to complete an innovation centre on Block 6, refurbishment of the Great Western goods office into food and beverage, buildings - probably apartments above ground floor cafes, bars and restaurants and possible a local supermarket.


Housing-led development and possibly the performance venue here or in Block 6.


A hotel and five-screen cinema.


The innovation centre and a terrace of four houses.