Chard Regeneration work continues with Councillors to consider plans to unlock further funding for programme
South Somerset District Council’s District Executive is to consider a proposal to unlock further funding which will allow its proposals for regenerating Chard to be fully achieved.
With the Leisure Centre heading towards completion towards the end of this year and work progressing to revitalise the town centre through a number of different projects, the council now needs to expand its overall budget to ensure the town gains the maximum possible benefit from work that is being undertaken.
The additional funding is required due to the current challenging market conditions and increased workload throughout the construction industry. The recovery of the national construction output to pre-Covid levels has been faster than expected and has led to high demand for contractors and constrained capacity. At the same time, there is also increasing pressure around the availability of construction materials, and higher EU duties on some imports. The tender process for the work is currently underway so if the further funding is approved, it will allow for committed improvement works in the town centre to go ahead as quickly as possible.
Councillor Jason Baker, portfolio holder for Chard Regeneration, said: “We are committed to deliver all of the work we have said we will in Chard through our regeneration programme however factors such as COVID-19 and Brexit have played their part in increasing costs which have resulted in the overall budget needing to be increased. The Programme team are requesting additional funds now at the special District Executive meeting in July so that we can deliver the work as quickly as we possibly can to help boost the economy of the town centre and provide a much more enjoyable experience to the users of the town centre.”
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.
Image above: The Chard Leisure Centre on 30 June 2021.
We have been awarded £1 million of Government high street funding through Historic England’s High Street Heritage Action Zone (HSHAZ) programme and this has been match-funded by SSDC, giving a total of £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.
How will this be funded and what is changing?
The council was successful in securing £1 million of Government high street funding through Historic England’s High Street Heritage Action Zone programme, which has been match funded by the council. Historic England have also contributed a further £79,000 to the scheme in the last few months.
However, in order to deliver the Public Realm scheme the council now needs to increase its budget for this part of the programme by £412,500.
What happens next?
The council’s District Executive will meet on Thursday 8 July to consider increasing the funding for the public realm scheme.
The public realm works which will see changes to the way certain areas in the town centre will look are progressing with final designs agreed and the construction tender process underway.
Leisure Centre Update
Work at the Leisure Centre is progressing well and the project is on budget. The pool is tiled, painting and other tiling is underway inside and work will be starting on the paving outside shortly. It is anticipated that the centre will open towards the end of 2021.
Image above shows the pool within the Chard Leisure Centre now tiled.
You can find out all about the latest news and developments of the Chard Regeneration programme, including other elements such as the cultural programme for Chard and the community consultation work being undertaken on the Chard Regeneration website at www.chardregeneration.co.uk.