SOMERSET: Chard regen demolition work
CREDIT: Daniel Mumby
A derelict building within a major Somerset regeneration site will be demolished – around the same time the nearby swimming pool will be formally opened to the public.
South Somerset District Council has invested millions of pounds in delivering a new pool and leisure centre in the town centre as part of its flagship Chard regeneration scheme.
The council expects the pool to open before Christmas, around which time the vacant structure known as ‘Building 11’ will be delicately removed.
Officers are also working on new access arrangements to the site, with improvements being made to the planned entrance off the A358 Silver Street.
An update on the leisure centre came before the council’s area west committee on Wednesday evening (September 15).
Dan Bennett, the council’s property and development project manager, said the new facility was “incredibly close to being complete”, with new operator Freedom Leisure making excellent strides in recruiting all the necessary staff.
He added: “There’s water in the pool, the water’s hot and there’s chlorine in the water.
“The leisure centre will hand over to the operator to begin their training at the end of this month. We’ll be announcing a formal opening date very soon.”
Building 11 formed part of the former ACI complex on Silver Street, and was originally going to be re-purposed as part of plans to relocate the town’s library.
With these proposals not coming to fruition, the council has instead applied to demolish the structure and make improvements to the Silver Street access.
Mr Bennett said the demolition would be carried out in such a way that patrons of the new leisure centre would not be disrupted by noise or debris.
He said: “The contractors are proposing a structural scaffold around the building, where the building is then stripped of all the roof tiles and everything goes down inside the building.
“The building is basically used to contain the rubble and then the height of the building is gradually lowered until it’s level with the ground.
“The houses behind will be protected by the scaffold, and the floor will be secured to keep the dust under control.
“I think a lot of people will be keen to see the back of that building.”
Under the revised access proposals, cars will be able to access the site via Silver and the Boden Street car park, while pedestrians will also be able to use a footpath near the Boden Centre.
The council had originally planned for the entrance of the Marketfield car park (near the Royal Mail delivery office) to be widened to serve as an additional access.
However, negotiations between the council and Royal Mail are still ongoing, meaning this option may not see the light of day before the leisure centre opens.
Mr Bennett said in his written report: “We have been unable to widen the Marketfield access road as planned, because the foot-way is not within our ownership.
“We have been in dialogue with Royal Mail, which owns the foot-way, to establish if there is a mutually agreeable solution to this issue.
“Royal Mail recently closed their Ilminster depot and transferred the operations to Chard, so the Chard depot is running at full capacity.
“The previous arrangements of season tickets for Royal Mail delivery vehicles in the Marketfield car park will not be continued once the leisure centre is open to the public.
“We are looking at options to use the Crowshute car park for certain Royal Mail vehicles to ease pressure on the town centre car parks, which are primarily used by shoppers.”
The application to demolish the building is expected to come before the committee for a formal decision in October.
The draft Future Chard strategy, laying out the future needs of the town centre after the regeneration scheme is completed, will be presented to the council’s district executive committee earlier in the same month.
Words: Daniel Mumby, Local Democracy Reporter
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