New affordable rental apartments open in Chard’s former Working Men’s Club

Five smart new affordable Stonewater rental apartments for local people have been officially opened in the old landmark Working Men’s Club in Chard town centre this week. Members of the community, South Somerset District Council and other guests, joined the leading affordable housing provider to mark the event with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

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The derelict 19th century building in Fore Street, which had been deteriorating for several years, has been transformed into one two-bedroom and four one-bedroom apartments for affordable rent. Stonewater has carried out the conversion of the old building in partnership with South Somerset District Council and construction partners Titan Group.

The iconic frontage of the Victorian former club has been carefully restored and its interior completely refurbished and renovated. Hallways in the building have been decorated with old photographs of the building and the high street that were provided by the Chard Museum, printed on large acoustic panels. Stonewater has also donated the club’s old signage and flagpole to the museum to preserve the original history of the building. The new apartments’ prime location means that residents have local shops on their doorstep and views of other town landmarks including the Grade 1-listed 11th century church of St Mary the Virgin.

“This conversion is a great example of how redundant buildings in our rural town centres can be transformed into vibrant and affordable places for local people to live,” says Richard Stevenson, Stonewater Executive Director of Development. “Not only do they help to address the shortage of affordable housing in the community, but they also help regenerate and breathe new life into the high street, boosting local trade, services and businesses.”

A further four houses are due to be built at the rear of the building which will provide more affordable housing in the town centre.

Stonewater’s conversion of the Working Men’s Club follows its recent completion of 56 homes for affordable rent and shared ownership in Great Western Road, and 10 new homes for affordable rent in Millfield, Chard. Stonewater currently owns and manages around 900 properties in South Somerset with approximately 100 under development.

There are currently 269 new affordable homes in the pipeline to be built in South Somerset.

“There was a growing disbelief in Chard that we would ever see this important building renovated as the years passed and this decaying eyesore blighted the main approach to the town. Stonewater rose to that challenge and now the transformation is complete,” says Ric Pallister, leader of South Somerset District Council. “Not only has the project made a major contribution to the regeneration of the High Street, it has created some stunning, unusual and much needed apartments close to the town centre and major employers. From the inside those apartments I have got the immediate, ‘I could live here’ feel and I am immensely proud of what Stonewater, working in partnership with the Council has achieved.”

Completed as part of the Empty Homes Programme, the renovation was financed by grant funding from the Homes and Communities Agency and South Somerset District Council.