Look Back: Shepton relief road
LAST week’s Looking Back at the grand 70s development ‘The Centre’ showed the economic impact it was expected to make in the area.
As is always the case with these things, however, is was not a totally smooth ride for its millionaire financier, Mr Showering, and other supporters and driving forces.
A key element to the planning process was the required Shepton Mallet relief road.
The Highways Committee were instructed to construct the road before the proposed town centre developments could begin, and so the race was on to tie up a compulsory purchase order from the land, along with the other necessary details. Councillors were unsure of the likely costs, but expected them to run up to ‘thousands and thousands of pounds’, and many people were against the road due to such a lack of clarity.
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Although negotiations to get ‘The Centre’ scheme going were progressing ‘very rapidly’, a public enquiry was looming over the relief road if the Minister in charge considered the objections to it sufficient.
“And, I suspect that he will in this instance”, said Mr Beckerleg, Clerk of the Urban Council.
Of course the creases were ironed out, and Somerset County Council’s Highway Committee approved the plans. £80,000 was the tune of the final costs for the road, but only on the condition that the Peter Street diversion, for £35,000, and the Town Street car park, for £25,000, were constructed at the same time.
Although the new Rectory Road shows on the photograph, there is no white lines and it meets Commercial Road at a junction, not the roundabout that is there today.
The centre of the photograph – mostly trees and a building site on the photograph – is now housing and Rectory Road Car Park. To the left of the photograph is the Hillmead development.
The crane in the centre of the photograph shows where the Centre complex – later to become the Amulet – was to be built.
By Ben O’ Brien