A DERELICT site which has been left barren for nearly 20 years could finally be revitalised.

A consultation has been launched for the development of the Hort Bridge site at the entrance to the town, which has been an ‘eyesore’ since the closure of Horlicks Farms and Dairies in 2001.

Owners of the land, Dairy Gold, will soon be submitting a planning application to South Somerset District Council for the building of 144 houses and an employment site.

Plans were approved to develop the site around 10 years ago but never came to fruition.

The site was targeted by vandals in November last year, when 10 fire engines were called to the site to tackle a huge blaze, believed to have been started deliberately.

The new plan would see a mix of two-, three- and four-bedroom houses, as well as employment land. Affordable housing is ‘expected’ to be in line with the council’s policy.

The agent, Alder King, says the employment space could be used for a variety of uses such as a motor dealership, restaurants or a gym.

Cllr Julie Fowler, mayor of Ilminster, said: “In principle, I am in favour of the development.

“It will provide an opportunity to develop the site for commercial purposes and improve the entrance to the town. I am conscious that consideration needs to be given to the extra risk of flooding in the immediate vicinity and further along.”

Other residents of the town have shown their support for the proposal.

A spokesman for the Save Shudrick Valley Group, which opposed development in the Shudrick Valley to the east of the town, said: “With all the controversy over recent years concerning other sites in the town, this is surely one site which will receive universal support.

“It would tidy up what has been an eyesore entrance into the town for over 18 years and provide housing in a location alongside other residential units.

“The industrial site would be adjacent to existing industry at Slape and altogether it would be a wonderful addition to the town.

“The nearly 150 homes proposed are required to finance the work on providing a flood alleviation scheme and highways works. It will also relieve pressure on other sites which have been the result of appeals and opposition.

“We can only wait and see if this scoping request is supported and hope that the town and district councils give it their full support.

“An improvement to this eyesore entrance to the town is long awaited.”

There is no set date for an application but it is estimated to be late 2018 or early 2019.