A GREEN space in Bridgwater town centre will be given a new lease of life over the next 12 months as part of a £15m regeneration scheme for the local area.

Sedgemoor District Council is spearheading the regeneration of the Northgate site on Mount Street, delivering a new seven-screen cinema, gym, bowling alley and restaurants.

Bridgwater residents were consulted in November and December 2020 about improvements to the nearby Brewery Field green space, which connects the council-owned site to the town’s historic quayside.

Designs for these improvements, informed by locals’ views, have been signed off by the full council and will be implemented over the course of the next 12 months.

The field lies to the west of the Northgate Primary School, bordered by Anson Way to the north and Blacklands to the south-west.

Under the new designs, new and improved play facilities will be put in place at the south-eastern corner of the site, near both the school and the neighbouring car park.

An improved pedestrian and cycle path will be instituted at the eastern border of the field, forming part of the town’s Celebration Mile.

A more meandering path will be created through the centre of the field, following the course of the former railway line into the town centre.

The field will include a new swale and will be sown with wildflowers to encourage a diverse range of wildlife.

Work is expected to begin on the wider Northgate site on April 6, with the Brewery Fields improvements due to get under way from June 7.

To allow the new landscaping to establish itself, the field will be completely closed for 12 months after this date, with the entire Northgate project expected to be completed in June 2022.

Doug Bamsey, the council’s strategic manager, told the full council at a virtual meeting on Monday (February 22): “The planning approval for Northgate also includes a condition that the leisure scheme cannot be operational before Brewery Field enhancements have been implemented.

“Funding of the enhancements will be via existing ring-fenced budgets as well as the recently-secured accelerated town fund monies, and is likely to have additional funding through the main Northgate leisure project itself as the two projects become entwined.”

Bridgwater is one of two Somerset towns (the other being Glastonbury) to benefit from the government’s towns fund, which has allocated £25M each for town centre regeneration projects in 101 towns across the UK.

The government provided £750,000 of this funding in advance in late-2020 as “accelerator funding” to kickstart work at the Northgate side – of which £150,000 was earmarked to improvements to Brewery Field.

The council submitted a full list of projects which would benefit from the remaining funding to the government on February 18 – though the full details have not yet been released to the general public.

Councillor Brian Smedley (whose Bridgwater Westover ward includes the Northgate site) said the public needed reassurance that trees removed during the clearing of the site would be replaced as construction moved forward.

He said: “What’s not to like about a high-quality town centre park achieved with no net loss of open space?

“But this hasn’t been helped by the recent and sudden wholesale destruction of trees on Northgate, and as a result ward councillors have been hard pressed to justify this.

“But we have been able to [do so] with the understanding that more green space will be created and more trees planted.

“I expect this will come up again when the Brewery Field will be used as a storage yard for the leisure development in June – so keeping the people informed is very important.”

Deputy leader Gill Slocombe added: “I think we are immensely lucky in Bridgwater. I know it seems sometimes that Bridgwater gets everything, but this will be a good venture for all people in Sedgemoor.”

The full council voted unanimously to accept the Brewery Field designs.