MORE money will be provided to improve a Somerset green space after councillors voted to increase the project’s budget by 50 per cent.

Sedgemoor District Council is pushing forward with its Northgate regeneration scheme, delivering a new cinema, bowling alley, gym and restaurants in Bridgwater town centre by late-2022.

As part of the regeneration scheme, the Brewery Field green space near the site will be revamped with new play equipment and better access for cyclists and pedestrians.

The council has now agreed in principle to allocate a further £150,000 towards this aspect of the regeneration – a 50 per cent rise from the £300,000 that has already been set aside.

Councillor Mark Healey, portfolio holder for commercial and asset management, defended the funding increase at a meeting of the council’s executive committee in Bridgwater on Wednesday morning (July 14).

He said: “This is the final piece of the jigsaw that will enhance the Northgate project as a whole.

“This provides a place of health and well-being which people can visit either before or after visiting the site.

“This shows the local people that we’re a council that can look forward. This enhances our business acumen and allows Bridgwater to grow.”

A total of £300,000 was originally allocated to the Brewery Field improvements, split evenly between “accelerator funding” from the government’s towns fund and ‘cost of congestion’ grants.

Northgate project manager Stuart Martin said improvements to the field had “always had to wait in the background” while the council sought to finalise the costs of the main scheme.

Contractor Willmott Dixon originally quoted nearly £500,000 to deliver the enhancements which the public had requested in the council’s consultation – but Mr Martin and his team were able to negotiate this down to £420,000.

Bridgwater Mercury: Initial Masterplan For The Brewery Field Improvement. CREDIT: Sedgemoor District Council. Free to use for all BBC wire partners.

By agreeing a revised budget of £450,000, all the original elements of the scheme can be retained – including a large number of new trees.

He said in his written report: “This will be funding an important town centre park that provides a high-quality facility in the centre of town for all the residents of Bridgwater and visitors to enjoy.

“Brewery Field has been an unloved and underused green space, but these improvements will create an important green lung in the town that in addition will act as an educational focus for Northgate Primary School.”

The entire Northgate scheme has a budget of up to £15M, with a fixed price of £11.9M for the main build on Mount Street.

Council leader Duncan McGinty said: “This is a really exciting prospect, brought about by the fact that we found ourselves in a good financial position last year.

“We can make this [Brewery Field] a really special area in the centre of Bridgwater. I look forward to seeing this completed and populated.”

Councillor Brian Smedley, who leads the Labour opposition group on the council, added: “This is a prestige project that we all want to see succeed.

“This is in the heart of a community, many of whose living rooms overlook the site. We’re not in a bad position financially and we can support this.”

The additional funding was approved in principle unanimously by the executive, with the full council expected to give final approval later in the summer.