Chard Regeneration Continues – new leisure centre takes shape
Great progress is continuing to be made on the construction of a new leisure centre at the Boden Mill site in Chard.
Work resumed safely in April on the site as contractors were able to return to the site following Covid-19 risk assessments and adoption of new working practices.
The current work has seen sheet piling for the swimming pool now completed, and workers starting to pile the foundations for the main building.
HOW THE LEARNER POOL WILL LOOK
This initial work will include a modern leisure centre with a five-lane swimming pool, learner pool, gym and soft play centre. The impact of Covid-19 has inevitably led to delays in the progress of construction work. The contractors on site are working hard to ensure that the new facility will open in autumn 2021. The project team will keep a close eye on progress, but the safety of site workers and Covid-19 distancing remains paramount.
Additional planned phases in the future will include commercial units, housing and public realm improvements (how the area will look overall) around the mill buildings and Fore Street.
The project continues to be delivered as South Somerset District Council continues to help support residents through the Coronavirus crisis.
Since the lockdown was announced the council has:
- Provided support to more than 5,500 households facing hardship
- Provided business rate relief to 1,764 businesses with a value of £25 million
- Provided business grants to more than 2,800 businesses with a total value of more than £33 million
- Extended its customer connect service hours during the week and moved it to a seven day a week serviceand helpline to assist those impacted by the lockdown
- Phoned hundreds of potentially vulnerable residents to check if they need help and support
- Worked to get all rough sleepers off the street and support 180 homeless residents in temporary accommodation
- Set up a completely new service –the Wellbeing Hub – which has provided more than 800 boxes of food and essential supplies to shielded people, vulnerable, those facing hardship and children entitled to free school meals
- Coordinated and supported a network of community and voluntary groups to ensure everyone has access to help in their community
The cost of supporting the district through Coronavirus has been high and SSDC is currently calling on the Government to ensure it is fairly funded for the additional steps it has taken to help our communities and to compensate for any lost income.
But this will not have any impact on the delivery of Phase 1 of the Chard Regeneration Project which includes the new Leisure Centre.
Councillor Jason Baker, portfolio holder for the Chard Regeneration Scheme and Chairman of Area West Committee, said: “It’s going to be hugely exciting to see the leisure centre begin to take shape in the coming months and we will be delivering a much-needed and long-awaited project that will encourage not only local communities but visitors to come to Chard.
“We’ve been able to step in and provide a new facility in the town following the closure of the CRESTA pool by Somerset County Council.
“It’s important to recognise that every council across the country is being put under financial pressure by Covid-19 but we have been there for our communities from getting business grants out quickly, creating a hub for emergency supplies and finding anyone at risk of homelessness a safe place to stay.
“We are in a strong financial position due to our transformation and commercial investments. It is quite right that we take a close look at the impact of Coronavirus and plan for the future while committing to doing whatever we can to continue to fund improvements in our town centres.
“This sort of work is going to be so crucial to the recovery of local businesses and the economy. This is why we are urging the Government to fairly fund SSDC to ensure that our communities are not unfairly hit by the impact of Coronavirus as district councils lead the economic recovery of the region.”
What is the Chard Regeneration project?
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.
The redevelopment of the Boden Mill ACI site has been a clear ambition of the District Council for a number of years and forms a key part of the wider regeneration proposals for the town. The District Council is the developer of the site and is working in partnership with Alliance Leisure to provide the new leisure centre, and along with the range of other facilities will attract people to the town centre. It will also improve pedestrian links to and from the site as well as to other local services and facilities.
The first phase of 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.