COACH designed by architects Reed Holland Associates

COACH replaces a former toilet block with an attractive, sustainable town centre facility on the banks of the River Tone. Architects, Reed Holland Associates, faced the immediate challenge of designing a building on a flood plain which would gain the approval of the Environment Agency, Local Authority and the community alike. The solution is both functional and creative. At ground floor level floodable storage provides space for boats and other equipment. The café has a prominent position with an elevated river-facing terrace and is served by external toilet facilities which also cater for visitors to the park. Internally COACH users have the benefit of changing facilities including showers and toilets, a wonderful first-floor Park Room offering space for up to 60 people, and of office space. Linking these two elements of the building is a unique indoor/outdoor space for use by youth and educational groups.

Construction on a flood plain was always going to be a challenge. The team at South West Highways used driven pile foundations. The building was then constructed as a steel frame sitting on top of a ring beam linking the piles. The main section of the facility is enclosed with a lightweight metal frame in ll and wrapped with a highly insulated jacket. Externally the building has Millboard cladding – a timber substitute. COACH is heated by low-temperature under-floor heating provided by a small and efficient gas boiler and has high thermal mass due to its concrete floors.


COACH is a large building sited within the park but its clever design ensures that it is in no way overbearing. The use of external materials, especially the combination of golden oak and black emberred Millboard cladding, ensures that visually it recedes into its park and riverside setting.

The Park Room

The first-floor Park Room makes an immediate visual connection with French Weir Park and Longrun Meadow. This room represents the very essence of a pavilion within a park, connecting inside with outside. It has been designed as a large flexible space suitable for a number of different uses and activities.

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Take an architects tour of the building

COACH (Centre for Outdoor Activity & Community Hub) is a charity existing to promote community values in a sporting and educational environment, open to all.

Our vision is to provide access for youth, sport, education and community in the very heart of Taunton through the provision of a facility that is iconic, green and functional.  This is achieved by the construction of a building in the heart of the Tone corridor, linking the redevelopment areas of Longrun and Firepool with a community supported facility that encourages the values of activity, community and education.

COACH is a charity whose objects support the pursuit of encouraging an active lifestyle for life. Introducing, encouraging and enabling a wide spectrum of ages, abilities and interests to become a part of the Taunton vision.

COACH is a community driven project

COACH is a community driven project, supported by the surrounding schools, colleges and community groups that are looking to deliver activity, engagement and community, shaped by its partners and users. It is sustainable in a financial, resource and human basis, recognising the challenges faced by any community enterprise in the current climate, and enjoys support from potential users who are currently required to look for provision in less convenient and accessible areas.

What we provide

COACH can provide, through its activity and educational programs access to the key skills needed by the youth of Taunton in an ever increasingly competitive world- the discipline to be in the right place at the right time, to work and co-operate with others, to be considerate of the needs of others, to have a sense of self-worth built on their success at whatever level. We have seen it happen, the right program in the right facility can change lives, we are here to make a difference.

Our Aims

  • to establish and develop a youth, community, activity and education hub.
  • to engage young people and the wider community in healthy and active lifestyles, outdoor and/or community activities
  • to promote lifelong learning through partnerships with local providers, meeting the needs of the community
  • to engender community spirit and self-worth
  • to support satellite sporting/outdoor activity clubs from the Hub

Take a tour of the COACH House

COACH has been designed by Reed Holland Associates.  Building on a flood plain and having to meet the Environmental Agencies consent by having a floodable ground floor was always going to be a challenge.