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Leisure centre in Chard rises from the ground and still set to open before the end of 2021

| Your Area West

Eight months in to the leisure centre build at the Chard Regeneration site and progress is continuing at a quick pace which will see the centre open in late 2021, with the assistance of building contractor Speller Metcalfe.

The centre itself will boast a five lane swimming pool, learner pool, café, soft play area and a gym; all helping it to be self-sustaining heading into the future.

The build is a few weeks behind schedule, but a forced closure at the site due to Covid-19 restrictions is simply to blame for that, with safe systems of work being put in place quickly to allow for the build to continue safely for the workers and for the build to not fall too far behind schedule. The supply of materials for the build has also been a factor in the delay, but the good news is that with roughly 40 contractors working on site daily, the build will come on quickly now.

The metal structure of the building is all complete, with roofing over the pool also completed and starting to happen over the other areas of the centre. Internal walls for the changing room and office area can now be seen rising from the ground and some stone work for external walls has taken place. But importantly, the building of the pool has also commenced with testing of the pool likely to take place before Christmas.

The build itself is still currently set to be delivered on budget. Financial contingency plans were made by the District Council to try to ensure that the build costs would not slip beyond those originally projected.

From left to right: Dan Bennett, Chard Regeneration Scheme Project Manager (SSDC); Cllr Jason Baker, portfolio holder for Chard Regeneration; Anna Matthews, Heritage Action Zone Project Manager (SSDC) – all stood in front of the leisure centre in Chard which is set to be delivered in late 2021

What is Chard Regeneration?

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 Regeneration 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.

What other improvements are you making to Chard?

We are still working on the delivery of Phase 2 of the Chard Regeneration site which will see the redevelopment on the Boden Mill. This will comprise of a mix of commercial and housing developments, alongside work to the public realm areas around the site – so the areas you walk and travel through. Redevelopment of the Boden Mill will not commence until the leisure centre work is complete.

Alongside this, £1m was recently awarded from the £95m government-funded High Streets Heritage Action Zone (HSHAZ) programme, which is delivered by Historic England. An additional £1m has also been match-funded by the District Council for the delivery of a Heritage Action Zone delivery project in the town centre of Chard, which will see improvement to historical buildings, public realm areas and an activity of events and engagement taking place.

Councillor Jason Baker, Chairman of Area West Committee and portfolio holder for the Chard Regeneration programme, said: “I’m really excited to see the progress of the site and it’s unbelievable to think that just in March, construction of the site commenced with the first steel works going in and now the roof is being put on, the pool is coming along and some internal works have commenced.

“The leisure centre is going to be a vital service to the community of Chard and the surrounding areas – as a District Council, we engaged with you and asked you what you wanted at the regeneration site and we’re delivering that as promised. Hopefully we won’t have any more setbacks, but with roughly 40 local and national workers working on the site each day, we are confident that unless there are any other Covid or natural element disruptions, we will see the centre opening in late 2021.”

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