Agenda item

Chard High Street Heritage Action Zone Update


The Chard High Street Heritage Action Zone Project Manager advised that there were three phases to the High Street Heritage Zones for Chard – the public realm scheme, the building improvement grant scheme and community engagement. 


With regard to the public realm scheme, members were informed that the technical and road safety audit process with Somerset County Council had been completed.  The lead local flood authority consents were also approved to allow works to the water courses and the S278 Agreement and Traffic Regulation Orders had been signed and sealed.  Alun Griffiths Ltd had begun working on site in September starting at the Market Field junction.  The Chard High Street Heritage Action Zone Project Manager said that there were some issues with materials, lead times and logistics due to Covid/Brexit which meant that the contractors were having to work quite flexibly across the whole site in order to maintain best alignment with the project timescales.  At present, completion of the scheme was scheduled for April and remained within budget.  Members were given the contact details for the contractor should they wish to raise any questions, concerns or issues relating to the works.


The Chard High Street Heritage Action Zone Project Manager informed members a Conservation Architect had been appointed to advise on the Building Grants Programme.  An external conditions survey had been conducted on each of the properties on the schedule and a draft prioritisation matrix had been drawn up.  In liaison with Historic England, it had been agreed that the maximum grant rate be increased from 50% to 70%, in recognition of the challenging economic circumstances faced by businesses in Chard and to encourage take-up.  A draft Chard Shop Front Design Guide had also been approved by the District Executive for formal consultation.


With regard to the Community engagement strand of the scheme, members noted that various events have engaged over 300 people which included Heritage Open Days, a stall at the Chard Carnival Street Fair and Chard Christmas Market and would not have been possible without the support of the partner organisations.


In response to questions raised by members, the Chard High Street Heritage Action Zone Project Manager advised members of the following:


·         She would be able to help provide members with answers to any enquires or complaints received about the scheme from members of the public.

·         The footfall counters would remain in place until March 2024 when the Heritage Action Zone Scheme was due to end but discussions would be held about the possibility of them being retained.

·         The building grants scheme programme would run until March 2024.  A date for receiving final applications would be set out in the guidance for the application process.

·         There was funding available for all the properties listed on the schedule based on the external condition surveys conducted.

·         Covid/Brexit was affecting the construction industry across the whole of the country and pushing up the cost of materials and the lead times for receiving them. There were issues specifically with the delivery of materials to site and delays with procuring some materials from overseas. 


At the conclusion of the item, members were content to note the report.


RESOLVED:  That the report be noted.

Supporting documents: