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Development partners and architects are appointed to build a brand-new leisure and community facility in Chard's town centre

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South Somerset District Council has appointed leisure development specialists, Alliance Leisure, to work with multi-award winning architecture and building consultancy practice, AHR, whose Bristol team will bring the project forward from concept to design.

Karle Burford, director at AHR, said "We are thrilled to be working with the Council on the proposals to bring forward a mixed-use community scheme, redeveloping the historic Boden Mill site that includes the former ACI factory site.

"Our shared vision to instil the historic nature of the town within the design is integral to the project, and we look forward to harmonising the old with the new. The first phase of the scheme will be designing the brand-new leisure centre, with modern facilities for families to enjoy for years to come."

The new leisure centre will offer a diverse array of facilities to meet the health and wellbeing needs of the community. These are likely to include: a 25 metre swimming pool; a gym; group exercise studios; an adventure play area; changing rooms and a café.

Councillor Jo Roundell Greene, portfolio holder for the Chard Regeneration Scheme and Deputy Leader of South Somerset District Council, said: "Feedback from a series of public consultations has revealed that people want the development to include: a leisure centre with swimming pool; more places to eat and socialise; improved leisure opportunities for young people; green open spaces and opportunities for small, independent retailers to thrive.  We are working with Alliance Leisure to help plan and build this vision.

Alex Parmley, Chief Executive at South Somerset District Council, said: "Alliance Leisure has years of experience delivering modern leisure developments in tune with community needs. Our new partnership, through the Leisure Framework, will ensure we deliver a mix of facilities and services which offer the local population most value both now and in the future."

Chard Regeneration Project

Above: (Left to right) Karle Burford, Director at AHR; Paul Cluett, Managing Director of Alliance Leisure Services Ltd; Councillor Jo Roundell Greene, portfolio holder for Chard Regeneration; Adam Baker, Architect at AHR; Alex Parmley, Chief Executive of South Somerset District Council, all welcoming the appointment of Alliance Leisure and AHR Architects outside the Boden Mill at the former ACI site.

The Boden Mill itself will be redeveloped into a culture and public sector hub with a library, satellite museum, with the police, council and other local service providers who are also likely to be housed in the new facility. Conversion of the upper floors will create a number of residential units for rent or purchase.

Julia Goddard, Senior Business Development Manager at Alliance Leisure, said: "Over the next few months we will work closely with architects AHR to produce outline plans for the overall development. We will also create full design plans for the new leisure centre, aiming for submission by July 2019. Once planning permissions are granted, works will start on the demolition of the factories and warehouses."

All surrounding areas will be landscaped to create an attractive public realm that can be used for social gatherings, public art and community events. The nearby Holyrood Lace Mill will also transformed into a residential development offering a much needed housing solution.

Julia Goddard, adds: "These works will completely transform this part of Chard with an enviable development that fully integrates leisure and culture."

The works will be carried out in phases starting with the new leisure centre and will complete at the end of 2020, subject to planning approval in summer 2019.

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