Shepton Mallet Today

From this historic background, Shepton Mallet has emerged as a town and civil parish in the Mendip District of Somerset in Southwest England and has grown to a population of 10,369 (2011 census). Situated approximately 18 miles (29 km) south of Bristol and 5 miles (8.0 km) east of Wells, it is the second smallest of five towns in Mendip, located in the geographical heart of the district.

It is known by many as the birthplace in the fifties of the popular Perry drink “Babycham”. It is identified as a “principal town” in the Mendip Local Plan, and is also the closest town to the site of the Glastonbury Festival, the largest music festival in Europe.

Shepton Mallet had a relatively small retail centre until recently with its offer largely restricted to meeting local needs. However, the recently completed Townsend Retail Park to the south of the town centre has resulted in significantly less people leaving the town for food shopping.

However, there is recognised need for improvement. The Mendip Local Plan Part I: Strategy and Policies 2006-2029 says the following: “Shepton Mallet, located in the heart of Mendip, is the second smallest town in the district. Despite its heritage and attractive appearance, the town’s image remains poor with a number of prominent areas in need of significant investment.”

Shepton Mallet’s town centre is the smallest in the district, and it has been in decline for many years. The relocation of the town’s main food store from a peripheral location on Fosse Lane to the Townsend Retail Park in 2007 was seen as a means to deliver regeneration to a derelict employment site and help to boost trade in the centre. The Retail Park has delivered large format retailing, which was absent in the town, as well as a large Tesco store offering a range of non-food goods. This development has improved the retention of spending in the town as a whole, but according to an assessment in 2010, the benefits of higher footfall are not being translated into gains on the high street. Whilst there has been investment in a number of high street properties, stimulated by the Townscape Heritage Initiative and supported by a weekly market, shop vacancy rates remain stubbornly high especially around the Market Place.

Shepton Mallet contains the second largest concentration of employment land and premises in the district. The land and premises available are of varying quality but the views of local businesses have suggested that a proportion of cheaper, lower quality premises are valued as they support business formation and keep costs down. Current employment land is mainly concentrated to the east of the town, with significant transport and warehousing firms to the south. Job growth projections point towards a good level of new employment in the town of 1,300-1,500 jobs in the period to 2029. The District Council is promoting an innovative initiative that will see its Cannards Grave Road site emerge as a public sector hub within which district and county council services, police and other organisations will be concentrated. This may release new development opportunities in the town, and attention is also being given to the creation of an Innovation Centre to stimulate new business development. Page 11 of 69 Profile of the Community today (Additional demographic data can be found at Appendix 3)