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Your views are needed - have your say on the future of Chard

| Your Area West

With the opening of the Chard Leisure Centre just around the corner and works to the high street public realm now underway, it is an exciting time for the residents and business owners of Chard.

Back in June, South Somerset District Council held a public consultation inviting those who reside and work in Chard to give their views on how to make the town a better place to live, work and visit. The outcomes from this helped to shape the draft Future Chard Strategy 2021-2035.

SSDC believes it is vital for the voices of Chard and the surrounding area to be heard throughout the process, so residents are now invited to share their thoughts on the draft strategy before the final version is officially adopted by the council. 

Cllr Val Keitch, Leader of the Council, said: “For the benefit of the whole community, it is important that residents and businesses are involved in helping shape and deliver the actions identified in the strategy. This is a great opportunity for community groups to come together to help deliver these actions.”

A consultation will be held at the Chard Guildhall, 14 Fore St, Chard, TA20 1PH, on the following dates:

  • 10am to 2pm - Saturday 23 October
  • 9am to 4pm - Monday 25 October
  • 12pm to 8pm - Tuesday 26 October

The full strategy will be available to view at the consultation.

Attendees will also be given the opportunity to submit their feedback on what makes an attractive and successful shop front. A number of measures will be in place to ensure the events are Covid-safe.

As part of the High Street Heritage Action Zone programme, SSDC is developing a Shop Front Design Guide for Chard. The purpose of this is to offer advice towards achieving successful shop fronts. This Guide is intended to be adopted as a Supplementary Planning Document used by the Council’s planning team.

Cllr Jason Baker, Portfolio Holder for Chard Regeneration, said: “As we know, shop fronts and their associated signs and advertisements play a very important part in the appearance of the commercial areas of our towns. Therefore, opinions from local residents will be vital to ensure future shop fronts are appropriate and relate well to Chard’s fantastic character.”

This early-stage consultation on a new Shop Front Design Guide for Chard will take place alongside the Future Chard Strategy consultation at the Guildhall in Chard.

What is the Future Chard Strategy?

The ‘Future Chard Strategy’ takes a long-term view from 2021 to 2035 and sets out a clear pathway for social, economic and community well-being.

The desired changes for Chard identified in this strategy are not necessarily easy nor in the control of any one organisation or community group. Success will demand concerted effort and collaboration by a wide range of partners, as well as ongoing community engagement.

A range of actions have been identified in the Strategy that will help tackle the challenges facing residents, the economy and the environment of Chard and which are designed to build the strength of the community and drive change.

The key bene­fits SSDC would like to see realised for Chard as a result of the Strategy are as follows:

  • Enterprising: A vibrant centre for business and employment opportunities.
  • Caring: A place where people can do well and communities work together to improve people’s health and wellbeing.
  • Connected: A well-connected town in terms of both transport and getting around and where groups and organisations work together towards a common purpose.
  • Destination: A place people want to visit because of what it has to offer.
  • Sustainable: A town that cares for the environment and that creates a greener future for its residents.

What is the Chard High Street Heritage Action Zone programme?

Following extensive research and guided by suggestions previously made by Chard residents, SSDC has worked with partners to develop an ambitious strategy to bring significant changes to Chard and the community.

Chard Regeneration Programme aims to:

  • To provide compelling reasons for residents and visitors to visit and use Chard town centre.
  • To bring the key sites and buildings in Chard Town Centre back into economic and community use. This will stimulate physical regeneration and improve the vitality of the town centre.
  • To increase the footfall within the town and support existing businesses.
  • To improve the leisure and health offer in Chard for both local people and new visitors
  • To reinvigorate and bolster the role of Chard as a Market Town and economic centre.

We have also been awarded £1 million of Government high street funding through Historic England’s High Street Heritage Action Zone programme and this has been match-funded by SSDC, giving a total of over £2 million to spend in the historic heart of Chard’s shopping area.

This money will be invested in and around Chard Fore Street, including repairs to a number of historic buildings, renovating shopfronts and improving the streetscape to make it safer and more attractive to residents, businesses, visitors and shoppers.

The aim of the HSHAZ programme is to make the high street a more attractive, engaging and vibrant place for people to live, work and spend time.

You can find out more about the Chard Regeneration programme on our official website – www.chardregeneration.co.uk.

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