Chard Junction may be back on track
THE reopening of Chard Junction railway station could be on the cards as the town's regeneration masterplan is developed.
Consultancy company LDA Design is in the process of preparing a comprehensive long-term plan for Chard.
Mayor Martin Wale said: "This is a wide-ranging scheme encompassing all of Chard and the Junction has been raised as one place which could benefit.
"The station platform is still there and trains from Crewkerne and Axminster still stop there because it is a passing loop. But nobody can board at present.
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"The potential reopening of Chard Junction is something that residents of Tatworth and South Chard would be particularly pleased with."
The station was closed in 1966 because it was not well used, though residents say it is something they would like to see back and would make use of. Last year determined locals launched a campaign to bring it back, winning the support of Yeovil MP David Laws.
In addition to plans for Chard Junction, there are also early ideas for easing congestion through the town by building a bypass.
Cllr Wale said: "At present, the A358 goes right through town. To ease congestion in future the plan is to construct a road all the way around.
"This has been discussed and even started in the past but the economic climate dashed our hopes.
"This time around we have a lot more money to work with and that is a point I'm eager to get across to sceptical Chard residents as it applies to the whole plan. A lot of money has already gone into the purchasing of property, rather than solely on consultation. Parts of me do harbour a portion of their doubts but I am very excited about this project.
"This will not be an overnight thing, but hopefully, by planning now, we can move forward in the future when the economic climate improves. When the time is right we'll be in a better position."
Another main aim of the master plan is to bring more retailers to town, using the Air Control Industry factory site in Silver Street now owned by South Somerset District Council.
At a meeting of the town council this week, Cllrs David Hill and Jenny Kenton were elected to be on Chard Regeneration Scheme's Town Team. This is a group made up of county, district and town councillors and it will run alongside the community forum, which is made up of residents.
The groups have been set up to help progress the master plan.
South Somerset District Council says the community forum has received an encouraging response.
Three days after the announcement, the council received letters and e-mails from 15 people registering their interest in becoming part of the forum.
It is now urging more people to come forward to help with regeneration plans.
The council says the forum will become the local people's voice in the development and is hoping for up to 50 local people to be part of the project, giving their local knowledge and sharing their ideas.
THE first forum will take place on Saturday 7 February at Chard Guildhall from 10am. Anyone interested in joining should contact Robert Murray,South Somerset District Council, Holyrood Lacemill, Holyrood Street, Chard, Somerset, TA20 2YA or e-mail email@example.com by Friday next week.