A MASTERPLAN to revive the flagging Eastover area of Bridgwater has taken a leap forward – but desperate traders say they need concrete action, not words.

Sedgemoor District Council this week launched a consultation on its Supplementary Planning Document, a blueprint designed to manage future developments and bring some life back to Eastover.

The area is littered with boarded-up shops, and crime rates are more than three times the county average, according to a council report published this week.

Suggestions in the SPD to regenerate Eastover include:

  • A mixed development, including homes and shops, on the current Bridgwater Hospital site when the new hospital in Bower Lane opens
  • revitalising the area along the banks of the River Parrett, by attracting specialist shops and offices and developing an outdoor, cafe culture
  • making East Quay and Salmon Parade traffic-free and giving pedestrians and cyclists priority on some other roads
  • attracting a new multi-screen cinema, bowling complex or other leisure facility
  • designating two former employment sites for major 160-home developments
  • a ‘Riverside Square’ next to Town Bridge with a landmark building and public art
  • better signage to encourage shoppers to cross Town Bridge into Eastover.

The SPD, when finally approved next year, will help councillors decide whether individual planning applications put forward for Eastover should be given the go-ahead.

It will be reliant on the private sector to succeed but Sedgemoor District Council leader Cllr Duncan McGinty said Hinkley Point C could bring the footfall to attract new businesses and make the plan a reality.

He added: “There are already an awful lot of businesses interested in Bridgwater, especially on the back of new nuclear.”

The Mercury spoke to traders at the Indoor Market in Eastover, who said they were tired of talk and wanted action.

Mike Davis, who runs the market, said: “Better signs would help – something to direct people across Town Bridge. But we hear a lot of talking, and not enough gets done.”