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Residents and businesses gathered at the Guildhall on Saturday, 16 June, to view the exciting proposals to regenerate Chard and give their views on the various elements of the scheme.
Following extensive research and guided by suggestions previously made by Chard residents, South Somerset District Council has worked with partners to develop an ambitious strategy which will bring significant changes to Chard and the community. Chard Refresh focuses on regenerating the Boden Mill site in the centre of the town, and proposed components include a new leisure centre and swimming pool, alongside a blend of housing and commercial developments. In addition to this, the scheme proposes a number of other measures to boost business in the town, support events and revitalise the market (more details below).
Councillor Jo Roundell Greene, Portfolio Holder for Environment & Economic Development, said, “We were thrilled to share our vision and proposals with the community and gather their feedback on the key elements they would like to see in the regeneration of their town. Our vision is to revitalise the town centre and provide a compelling reason for residents and visitors alike to visit and make full use of its services. By improving the leisure and health offer, along with support for local businesses, we hope to increase footfall, boost the local economy and create more opportunities for residents.”
Alex Parmley, South Somerset District Council’s Chief Executive, said, “The proposals for Chard Refresh are ambitious and have been developed following extensive research, discussions with partners, and importantly, listening to what the community has said when previously consulted on the regeneration of the town. It is important that local residents and businesses are at the heart of the plans, so we will continue to gather feedback over the coming months to mould our proposals and deliver the vision for Chard’s town centre.”
New Leisure Centre and Swimming Pool
A brand new leisure centre is suggested in the plans, on the former ACI factory site, that would include improved facilities for the local community and visitors. Proposed facilities could include a swimming pool, café and studio space. This aims to provide a high quality, modern, new development to support health and wellbeing for residents, and increased footfall from people visiting the town.
Within the proposals, the Boden Mill itself is envisioned as a cultural and public sector hub, with everything the community needs in one space. The ground floor could include a variety of services, such as the library, museum, a learning hub and a customer hub where residents can speak to their local team. It may also include residential units on the upper floors.
The Council believes that public space in the town centre could be even better so that the community can enjoy it to the full. With this in mind the proposals suggest a new, attractive, open public space in the town that the community can use for a variety of purposes and functions. This versatile space could be used by the community as a place for social gatherings, public art, family play areas, and community events. There will also be space allocated for car and coach parking.
Supporting local businesses and additional options
There is also potential to consider different elements within Boden Mill and the public space, including a medical centre, business units, a covered market and a play area. What’s more. the scheme is about more than just physical changes, and will include ongoing support for local businesses and residents. It will support local and independent businesses with special events and promotions, develop the current market, improve broadband connectivity and provide business advice.
Those who could not make the event can view the proposals and submit feedback via the website www.southsomerset.gov.uk, the suggestion box at The Guildhall, or email chard.refresh@SouthSomerset.Gov.uk.