Somerton: A growing spirit
PUBLISHED: 15:23 03 August 2017 | UPDATED: 15:23 03 August 2017
Laura Briggs discovers that as Somerton expands with new residential and commercial development, the community is pulling together to create a 'destination town' with people at its heart
The market town of Somerton, the Royal Capital of Ancient Wessex, is growing in both business and community spirit like never before.
With the influx of new developments and a desire for the town to be attractive to visitors and its residents alike, families and supporters are pulling together to make the town stand out from the rest.
Always a popular town for visitors and shoppers, a new phase of development is to bring new shops and residential development to the town, with the area of West Street from The Courthouse Gallery to Longmires, soon to be returned to use after many years of being closed. In June, work began on the first phase of the development, to transform The Courthouse Gallery into three retirement apartments and shops, with lounge, dining, exhibition and function space for residents. The second phase will begin later this year and will turn the remaining closed units into further spacious retirement apartments, a two-bedroom house, shops and studio space. There has been considerable interest in the shops from independent artisan traders and a health and a wellness studio is confirmed, which will be operated by an established team which already has a very successful studio in Wells. A sales and information centre is due to open in The Courthouse Gallery during the summer.
New businesses include the ACEarts centre, which moved into the Old Town Hall permanently in September 2016 and is used as a gallery and workshop venue.
Nina Gronw-Lewis, Manager of ACEarts, says: “As a gallery we provide a platform for local and national artists, and we were delighted to provide a fitting venue for ‘Stellar Scribes’ on Somerset Day.”
New gift shop Another Sky opened recently to offer handmade and unique items including handmade children’s clothes, and The Globe pub in the market square has undergone a facelift under new ownership, following The White Hart’s lead some years back.
There are also plans afoot for the Market Bar in the town centre.
Burns the Bread, the popular Somerset bakery will be moving into the former premises of the Brainwave charity shop, and a new coffee shop is soon to open by the Post Office.
The Somerton Business Park is the hub for many thriving business, some totally bespoke like Paul Spencer Design and Carving, creating architectural fireplaces, and the Wessex Butchery, G.P David Plumbing and Robert Rice Contractors moving in within the year.
Currently 133 homes are being built by Bovis Homes on the Northfields site. They are making steady progress and will see the landscape of the town changing completely.
Responding to the community needs of this growing town, a group of the town’s mums have now also come together to create new group Love Somerton, with the sole aim of making the town into a real destination, taking ownership of this thriving community and bringing the community together to have fun and to take pride in the town.
Team member Mary Hossack, who also runs Life, the interiors shop on the corner of New Street, says: “Love Somerton is a group of mums who want to include everybody from the town in getting together and having fun. We’ve just hosted a really successful May Fayre, and we are planning to host regular coffee mornings for people to catch up with one another, and we’ll putting on the Christmas Lights event this year.
“We want people to enjoy the town and to really put Somerton on the map, making it a destination town and ultimately bringing people together.”
In the centre of Somerton, Williams Supermarket continues to be well supported by the people of the town and by those from further afield, and in turn continues to give back to the town and help local charities and groups. The old doctors’ surgery has been knocked down to make way for a larger car park next the supermarket and has made driving to and parking in Somerton far more convenient for those travelling any distance.
A shopping trip to Somerton is a friendly experience, and you’ll be met with a ‘hello’ in all the shops you visit. Part of the charm of this market town is that the shops remain as independents, small boutique fashion outlets – such as Behind Clouds, with unique products and if you like to shop local, you’ll be delighted to find two butchers and a local fruit and veg seller – Ronnie Mays.
For delicious healthy food and lifestyle advice, Cobbs health food shop is a must-visit, and the cafés in town such as The Courtyard Café, the Savannah Coffee House, and Full of Beans will satisfy your appetite while you enjoy the picturesque surroundings of this pretty town.
With plans on the table to build a new school in Somerton, and the increase in housing, it’s no wonder Somerton is growing in more ways than one.
As new families move in and join this fantastic town, it’s not just growing as a shopping centre and tourist attraction, but it’s also growing as a community.