A new leisure centre and co-located health and community facility will form the heart of ambitious plans to regenerate the Somerset town of Chard.
Proposals centre on the redevelopment of the historic Boden Mill — including the former ACI factory site — in the centre of town into a mixed used scheme comprising a new leisure centre and swimming pool, alongside housing, offices, community facilities and commercial developments.
South Somerset District Council has appointed leisure development specialists Alliance Leisure to develop the project. The new leisure centre will offer a diverse array of facilities to meet the health and wellbeing needs of the community. These are likely to include: a 25 metre swimming pool; a gym; group exercise studios; a soft play area; changing rooms and a café.
Pictured above from left to right are: Karle Burford, Director at AHR; Paul Cluett, Managing Director of Alliance Leisure Services Ltd; Councillor Jo Roundell Greene, portfolio holder for Chard Regeneration; Adam Baker, Architect; Alex Parmley, Chief Executive of South Somerset District Council, all welcoming the appointment of Alliance Leisure and AHR Architects outside the Boden Mill at the former ACI site.
Jo Roundell Greene, Deputy Leader and Chair of the Chard Regeneration Board for South Somerset District Council, said: “Feedback from a series of public consultations has revealed that people want the development to include: a leisure centre with swimming pool; more places to eat and socialise; improved leisure opportunities for young people; green open spaces and opportunities for small, independent retailers to thrive. We are working with Alliance Leisure to help plan and build this vision.”
Alex Parmley, Chief Executive Officer at South Somerset District Council added: “Alliance Leisure has years of experience delivering modern leisure developments with co-located public services, in tune with community needs. Our new partnership, through the Leisure Framework, will ensure we deliver a mix of facilities and services which offer the local population most value both now and in the future.”
Boden Mill itself will be redeveloped into a public sector hub with a library, and other community facilities. The upper floors are likely to be converted into residential units for rent or purchase.
Julia Goddard, Senior Business development Manager at Alliance Leisure, said: “Together with the Council, we will work closely with architects AHR to produce outline plans for the overall development. This will include a tasteful restoration and redevelopment of the buildings that are listed. We will also create full design plans for the new leisure centre, aiming for submission in the spring of 2019. Once planning permissions are granted, works will start on the demolition and site clearance.
All surrounding areas will be landscaped to create an attractive public realm that can be used for social gatherings, public art and community events. The nearby Holyrood Lace Mill will also transformed into a residential development offering additional footfall to the town centre and some much needed housing.
Julia added: “These works will completely transform Chard into a vibrant modern day community which fully integrates leisure and culture.”
The works will be carried out in phases starting with the new leisure centre, which is planned to be completed by the end of 2020, subject to planning approval in summer 2019.