A historic high street on a wet day. In the foreground is a block of possibly sandstone and two large artworks of rusted metal.
Fore Street looking east towards the Guildhall and Manor Court House © Historic England, photographed by Samantha Barnes
Fore Street looking east towards the Guildhall and Manor Court House © Historic England, photographed by Samantha Barnes

Chard High Street Heritage Action Zone

Chard is a historic market town in rural South Somerset and was an important wool, weaving and lace-making centre.

The town has several additional claims to fame including as the place where James Gillingham started making the first leather prosthetic limbs, and as the headquarters of Numatic – the home of the Henry vacuum cleaner.

High Street, Holyrood Street and Fore Street, the focus of the High Street Heritage Action Zone, are rich in historic character. The town centre boasts 50 listed buildings, including the Grade I listed Waterloo House and Grade II* listed Chard School, which are on the Heritage at Risk Register.

Whilst the town centre is architecturally attractive, it is lack-lustre and the poor state of repair of many of the buildings and shopfronts is off-putting for both shoppers and prospective businesses. It's also not a pedestrian-friendly zone, with heavy traffic, poor pavements and a general lack of well-signposted routes to help people find their way around.

How the Chard High Street Heritage Action Zone will help

An award of up to £1 million for Chard High Street Heritage Action Zone will help deliver the Chard Regeneration Plan which has strong local support. Vulnerable historic buildings in the town centre will be repaired. Historic shopfronts will be refurbished to create a more attractive retail environment. Much-needed improvements will be made to pavements and public spaces. This will complement the Boden Mill site becoming a key visitor destination with a new leisure centre. 

Alongside the physical regeneration, research and listing activity will cover the entire conservation area; and local people and cultural organisations will work together on events and activities to celebrate Chard’s rich history and showcase what the town has to offer today.

Stay up to date

Below you can find just some of the progress being made in the Chard High Street Heritage Action Zone. For more, follow us on Twitter @HistoricEngland. Chard Regeneration also has its own website where for the most up-to-date news

  • The town centre water channels which are distinctive to Chard are being upgraded from concrete to new local blue lias, with other areas of existing blue lias being carefully restored. Concrete pavements and kerbs are also being replaced with Forest Pennant stone flags and granite to give character to the street scene that is more in keeping with Chard’s historic nature.
  • The front elevation windows and roof of Chard School will be repaired, working towards taking this important building off the Heritage at Risk Register.
  • Grants are being offered to local businesses and property owners to help repair buildings and reinstate or improve shopfronts. This will be informed by a brand-new Chard shop front design guide.
  • The Chard Museum team are compiling ‘Streets of Chard’, a booklet about the origin of the street names in the town, revitalising their heritage walks series, and beginning a new project with local shop owners to uncover ‘Hidden High Street Histories’.
  • A consortium of local cultural, community and heritage organisations are delivering a new cultural programme, known as Culturally Chard.
  • Many of the listed buildings in the town will receive refreshed list entries, and local people will be invited to Enrich the List with their own photos and memories.

Working in partnership with

  • South Somerset District Council
  • Chard Town Council
  • Chard Museum

High Streets

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