The way the high street in Chard looks is set to change in the coming months with a contractor appointed to undertake public realm improvement works.
Alun Griffiths Ltd has been appointed as the construction contractor to deliver the improvements at Fore Street, Holyrood Street, Boden Street and the Eastern Gateway. Improvements to the public realm in Chard will create a better town centre environment, worthy of Chard’s historic character.
The work forms part of South Somerset District Council’s (SSDC) High Street Heritage Action Zone programme that sees over £2 million of funding invested in the town centre until 2024, including public realm improvements, grants for the repair and renovation of historic buildings and shop fronts, as well as community engagement projects. More than £1 million of government high streets funding has been secured from Historic England, after the town was designated a High Street Heritage Action Zone, matched by funding coming from SSDC as well as a contribution from Chard Town Council.
Ross Simmonds, Acting Regional Director at Historic England South West, said: “It’s great news that work is about to begin on a very important part of Chard’s High Street Heritage Action Zone. Improving the public realm will make the town centre more attractive to everyone from shoppers to potential businesses, and make it much easier for everyone to get around. We’re looking forward to seeing the transformation over the coming months.”
Public realm work is set to commence from Monday 13th September, with the Marketfield and Boden Street Car Park phases set to be the first areas to be worked on. Further details of scheduled works will be issued in the coming weeks as works progress and both South Somerset District Council and Alun Griffiths Ltd will be communicating and engaging with nearby local businesses, residents and the public in advance of the work taking place as well. You can also visit www.chardregeneration.co.uk to view the latest information and details of scheduled works in the town centre.
Dafydd Evans, Contract Manager from Alun Griffiths Ltd, said: “We are delighted to be awarded this prestigious scheme and continuing our partnership with South Somerset District Council. This is another important project for South Somerset District Council and community of Chard.
“We will be contacting those living and running businesses in the immediate area and providing our contact details. We’d urge people to get in touch if they have any queries or concerns.”
Councillor Jason Baker, South Somerset District Council’s portfolio holder for Chard Regeneration, added: “After the additional funding for the Chard Regeneration programme was secured at District Executive earlier in July, officers moved quickly to appoint a contractor so we could press on with public realm works in the town. I am delighted that we can now start work on enhancing the town centre which will bring many benefits in the short and long term and provide a perfect setting for our businesses and community to flourish.”
Public consultation in 2018 informed the council about its work to the public realm areas of the town centre of Chard and you told us:
- The streetscape is lacklustre and needs a refresh
- The town centre is very dominated by traffic and there is a desire to reduce its impact
- There is strong endorsement for creating more public space and a better pedestrian experience
- Links between the town centre and the leisure centre will be important
- There is considerable civic pride in the town’s history and historic buildings, and the Guildhall is the heart of the town centre.
Since then, officers and design contractors have been working on a scheme of public realm enhancements, which will deliver these this and bring economic and social regeneration, alongside the multimillion pound Boden Mill scheme that will see a new leisure centre and swimming pool provided for the town.
In November 2020, four contractors were appointed to help to deliver public realm improvements across South Somerset District Council’s regeneration sites of Chard, Wincanton and Yeovil. The winning contractors – Alun Griffiths Ltd, SWH South West Highways, Midas Construction and Knights Brown – must bid for key project work in the council’s regeneration programmes.
Throughout the tendering process, bidders were required to identify how they will create social value during project delivery, for example through creation of apprenticeships or working with local supply chains. Embedding social value into procuring contracts has many values including:
- Better value for money – delivering more for the public pound by requiring suppliers to do more than just deliver the core services
- Increase local spend – by rewarding organisations that are local or have a local supply chain
- Increased opportunities for disadvantaged people and promoting social mobility
- Promoting a responsible supply chain by requiring businesses to compete
- Leading to a cleaner and greener district
- Building stronger more resilient communities
- Leading to greater innovation and long-term thinking.
Alun Griffiths are not new to working in Somerset and are currently delivering the M5 Junction 25, Toneway Creech Castle Junction Upgrade along with numerous projects on the Somerset County Council Traffic Signals Installation Framework which includes a recently completed scheme at Elizabeth Way in Chard.
Other recent projects in the South West include the Yeovil Western Corridor improvements, Portmore Roundabout, Barnstaple, Westaway Junction, Barnstaple, the new junction on the A361 at Tiverton, and a major infrastructure project in North Somerset, Bristol and South Gloucestershire for Metrobus.
You can find out more about the Chard Regeneration programme, High Street Heritage Action Zone and the investment being made in the town by visiting the Chard Regeneration website at www.chardregeneration.co.uk.
Find out more about the national programme of High Street Heritage Action Zones on the Historic England’s website.