THE former Gooch and Housego factory in the centre of Ilminster will be turned into homes and shops if revised plans are approved.

Peter Eldridge Architects, who devised the scheme on behalf of the applicants, hope to convert the building at the Cornhill in Market Place into 14 homes and three units suitable for shops or offices.

A previous application to develop the site was approved in 2008 but that expired and a second application was refused and withdrawn in September last year.

The revised proposals include:

  •  Four apartments – two one-bedroom and two two-bedroom.
  •  Ten houses of between one and three bedrooms, with either a private or communal garden.
  •  A covered parking area for six cars and bicycle rack.

Some of the buildings on the site are listed and date from the 18th Century but only those with no historic value will be replaced.

In their application, the developers say: “This proposal will provide an opportunity to create new life into this derelict site which will not only improve the surrounding area but also ensure that the historic fabric of the most significant buildings are restored and brought back to full use.”

Concerns have been raised about access to the development, which would be via the existing archway leading onto Cornhill Market Place and is close to the Meeting House Arts Centre, a Grade I listed building.

Ilminster Town Council planning committee chairman Cllr Andrew Shearman backed the idea of developing the area.

He said: “There have been issues with retaining historical and archaeological integrity of the buildings but the town council is keen to see it back in use.

“An office base is most welcome in Ilminster because the town needs it.”

Gooch and Housego, an optical equipment manufacturer, has been based in the former Clarks shoe factory at Dowlish Ford in recent years.