Plans for Glastonbury Abbey Piazza have been approved by Mendip District Council, making this the second Glastonbury Town Deal project to be granted planning permission.
The development will see the construction of an open piazza space at the abbey entrance in the centre of town, providing a public meeting space for residents and visitors to enjoy.
The main entrance approaches and visitor reception facilities will be significantly enhanced, including the construction of a new ticket office, toilets and shop/café.
As a well-known international tourism attraction, the project will improve the abbey’s visibility, accessibility and physical connection to the town, benefiting residents and tourists alike. It will encourage more people to visit the abbey, improving its financial resilience and boosting the town’s cultural strengths. As a result, it will generate footfall for other businesses in the town centre, providing wider economic and social benefits for Glastonbury.
Janet Bell MBE, Director of Glastonbury Abbey, said: “We are delighted that we have received planning permission so that our project can go ahead. We have already received Scheduled Monuments Consent, which was also necessary for such an important archaeological site. We are now looking forward to working with our project team and stakeholders on the more detailed aspects of the designs for the buildings and landscaping of the piazza area. We expect work to start on site in September this year and are working towards completion in May or June 2024.”
Cllr Jon Cousins, Mayor of Glastonbury and a Glastonbury Town Deal board member, said: “This project is very close to my heart, for two reasons. Firstly, the abbey itself is the reason why modern-day Glastonbury is here. Many thousands of people come to the abbey every year and this project will greatly enhance the visitor experience. The Piazza will provide an opportunity for people to come and enjoy the abbey environment without necessarily paying to go in. They will be able to rest, relax and get a real flavour of what the abbey is all about.
“Secondly, it will tie in with the developments we’re planning with the Town Hall for a glass atrium as part of the health and wellbeing hub at St Dunstan’s House, which is also part of the Glastonbury Town Deal.
“This is something that the abbey has wanted to do for a long time, as is the case with many of the Glastonbury Town Deal projects. As well as creating a unified entrance way into an extraordinary piece of history, it will create a space in the heart of Glastonbury that will bring people and places together. This government funding is a great thing for the town as it’s giving Glastonbury the ability to realise some of its long-held dreams.”
The Glastonbury Abbey Piazza project has been allocated a grant of £940,000 through the Glastonbury Town Deal for capital expenditure, with an additional £500,000 of match-funding being sought.
Glastonbury was one of 101 towns chosen to receive investment through the government’s Towns Fund scheme as part of its Levelling Up agenda. Following the submission of comprehensive Business Cases for each project, formal confirmation of £23.6million funding was received in September 2022, securing this once-in-a-generation funding that is set to revitalise the town.
The Glastonbury Town Deal projects aim to deliver a necessary ‘levelling up’ opportunity for the town, bringing existing assets back into community use, and working with local communities to develop the spaces and resources they want and need. The vision is for Glastonbury to be a sustainable, prosperous, modern town and global tourist centre, drawing on its rural landscape, history and unique legacy.