Taunton's Orchard Shopping mall expansion sought

Orchard Shopping Centre, Taunton The shopping centre was bought by RBS at the beginning of the year

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Efforts are under way to attract major retailers to a shopping centre in Taunton as part of an expansion plan.

Orchard Shopping Centre was bought by the Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS) earlier this year.

RBS said the plans involved offering "modest rates" for smaller units and bringing in retailers "willing to pay sufficient rates" for the bigger units.

The hope is to almost double the size of the shopping centre and create a "town square environment".

Currently the shopping centre is 135,000 sq ft and the aim is to expand it by another 105,000 sq ft of shopping space.

Although the majority of the units within the centre are in use, the largest remains empty after the closure of JJB Sports last year.

A spokesman for RBS said: "We have had fantastic pro-active support from the highest level down within the council and from their colleagues in Project Taunton.

"As with all schemes, the viability will be determined by whether the major retailers want the large units and are willing to pay sufficient rents.

"We are about to start discussions with a small number of them and, if it is viable, we will seek to bring forward an application over the next few months."

In a council meeting, Taunton Deane Borough Council leader John Williams (Conservative), described the plans as "deliverable and with great potential".

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