Proposed Submission Local Plan 2006-2028

Primary Market Towns - Chard

Spatial Portrait

Chard 1

6.6 Chard is located in the west of South Somerset, close to the Devon and Dorset borders and only 12 miles from the English Channel. The town is surrounded by attractive countryside and in particular the Blackdown Hills AONB to the west and north which sets an important backdrop to the town and a contrast to development. It is South Somerset's second largest town with a population of 12,703[1]and has a strong heritage of innovation and manufacturing. The town is closely linked to the regional trunk road, the A303, and the A30 and A358.

6.7 Chard has a history of being closely involved in the wool trade. In 1819 the manufacture of lace arrived from Nottingham and soon there were mills in and around the town producing bobbin lace net which was exported worldwide. This industry continued into the middle of the 20th century. A thriving engineering industry grew up alongside the lace mills[2].

6.8 The ongoing recognition of Chard's employment heritage, coupled with the high proportion of major manufacturers still operating in Chard means that the town is still an important centre for employment and manufacturing. Chard has an employment density of 0.98 (number of jobs to economically active population). The town has a reasonably high level of self-containment (61.2% of people live and work in the town) although as expected give it's role and function, there is notable in-commuting from the surrounding area.

Chard 2

6.9 A number of the traditional industries within Chard are however in decline and currently the office market is weak, primarily supplying small office suites of converted accommodation occupied by local firms[3]. There have been a number of schemes brought forward in recent years, which have resulted in the loss of employment land and community and leisure facilities have not kept pace[4]. There is a lack of immediately available employment land. There is a low wage/low skill employment profile. Parts of Chard are amongst the 20% most deprived in the United Kingdom.

6.10 Residential growth in Chard has spread primarily to the east and west, with growth to the north east contained by the Chard Reservoir Nature Reserve. Over the years the town has grown in a piecemeal fashion rather than as part of a strategic and planned approach. South Somerset Local Plan allocation KS/CHAR/1 has failed to be delivered therefore proposed new housing, employment and community facilities and supporting infrastructure have not come forward. A long standing issue at Chard has been to find a new location for Chard Town Football Club.

6.11 Traffic problems are a growing concern with certain elements of the town's highway network at or near capacity particularly the Convent traffic signals and Church Street. In order to accommodate further growth the creation of an alternative route between the A358 Furnham Road and the A358 Tatworth Road is required[5].

6.12 Chard town centre has a varied range of food and non-food retail concentrated around High Street and Fore Street with a large Tesco store in an edge of centre location. As a destination for shoppers and people seeking leisure activities, it is beginning to lose out to nearby towns such as Taunton and Yeovil where there are more higher value retailers[6].

6.13 The town has a good range of visitor attractions in the surrounding area including Cricket St Thomas Hotel, Ferne Animal Sanctuary, Forde Abbey and Chard Reservoir Nature Reserve.

6.14 Chard Junction railway station no longer operates but main line train connections are available at nearby Axminster.

6.15 Some of the key environmental issues at Chard include areas of high flood risk to the north east (around Chard Reservoir) and to the south east with delineated groundwater protection zones to the south. There is a high quality historic environment within the Conservation Area and European Protected Species are present.[7]

1. ONS Mid Year estimates 2010 - Urban Area [back]
2. [back]
3. Chard Regeneration Plan (2009) [back]
4. Chard Regeneration Plan and SSDC Employment Land Review - Stage 2, 2009 [back]
5. Chard Regeneration Plan (2009) [back]
6. Chard Regeneration Plan (2009) [back]
7. The Distribution of European Protected Species in South Somerset, Guidance for Spatial Planning, November 2009 [back]