THE future of Chard's town centre is bleak, according to a report published last week.

The town was placed in the 'most at risk' category for local retail centres in Britain in the white paper drafted by The Javelin Group, one of Europe's leading specialist retail consultants.

The paper titled 'Battlefield Britain - Survivors and Casualties in the fight for the High Street' identified town centres most at risk of long term decline, analysing 600 towns for their retail performance, empty shops, big names and retail opportunities.

It is suggested that not only has a significant downturn started in Chard, but that indicators show a difficult future ahead.

But a group of traders and councillors recently came together in Chard to apply for £85,000 Portas Pilot funding to combat such issues.

Cllr Garry Shortland, chair of the town team driving the bid said: “I'm shocked at this report.

"Putting the bid together, it was apparent that our town centre wasn't in great shape, but no-one had any idea it was as bad as this."

The report suggests that urgent attention is needed to adapt to shifts in modern shopping habits.

Sam Beech, of Harriman's, which has stores in Chard and Ilminster, said: "It may be disappointing, but it isn't particularly surprising.

"It's totally different to Ilminster, where we stick to good traditional service values and it works, but in Chard it just seems to get worse year on year.

"I think we need to market what's already here and get the people of Chard shopping back in Chard again."

Cllr Shortland added: “It's up to all of us to save the town centre.

"Now that the bid is in the town team will be meeting to put plans in place."

To see the full findings of the Javelin Group's white paper follow the related link on this story.

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