Is this Waverley’s Newlands’ Corner fiasco?

Spend, spend, spend – on Farnham – that’s the council’s motto.  East Street redevelopment millions, upon millions, – whether we like it or not! Move the Gostrey Centre into a new health and wellbeing centre at the Memorial Hall – costing upwards of £3m- whether we like it or not – move the football fields from the Memorial Hall – whether we like it or not and now £800,000 for a new visitors’ centre at Frensham Ponds – whether we like it or not! In Fact Farnham residents’  – The omnipotent Executive of Waverley Borough Council will decide what is good for you – ok?

COUNCILLORS have just signed off £800,000 for a new cafe, toilets, playground and car park at Frensham Ponds.

Funding has been allocated for the improvements at Frensham Great Pond and Common in Waverley Borough Council’s 2016/17 budget, agreed at last week’s meeting of the full council meeting – but not everyone believes it is good use of public money!

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Frensham Visitors’ Centre. It was agreed At the Council’s Executive recently to forge ahead with  the project which proposes demolishing Frensham’s existing visitor centre and replacing it with a new “modern, more sustainable and energy efficient” building elsewhere on the common.This promises an improved cafe offering a wider variety of food and drinks, indoor seating as well as public toilets, a ranger office, educational room and interactive visitor information area.

The report also proposes a new children’s play area and “re-configured car park” to increase the ponds’ parking capacity and reduce anti-social parking and queuing along Bacon Lane.However, the project will likely result in the introduction of all-year-round parking charges, replacing the existing seasonal charge of £4 per day at weekends and bank holidays between April 1 and September 30.

Waverley expects the improvements to greatly reduce its running costs at the common from £50,000 per year to just £10,000, and the council claims the project should pay for itself “within 23 years”.
It also hopes to secure external funding for the project, a bit like the Memorial Hall! and has set a target date of April 2018 to open the new facilities in time for the summer season.
However, various hurdles must first be overcome in addition to planning permission – including gaining common land consent from the Secretary of State and securing the permission of land owners the National Trust which awarded a 73-year lease to the council in 1997. No problem there then!

WW is quite sure planning permission, covenants, leases or land ownership will not be too much of a problem – just look at the shenanigans going on with the Memorial Hall – now you see a covenant now you don’t.” As for leases, look at Farncombe Day Centre, Waverley does whatever it likes!

Julia Potts, Waverley deputy leader and portfolio holder for major projects, said: “The ‘invest-to-save’ scheme – which is still in its early stages – has to go through an extensive process, including a number of important consents that need to be given, before the scheme can be approved.

Not too much to worry about there then – Gone to Pots!

“Currently amenities on the site are not fit for purpose. The vision is to transform the area and improve the visitor experience, (bit like Newlands Corner in Guildford really – and they have petitions coming out of their ears at Guildford Borough Council because the public don’t want Newlands  Corner to be gentrified just to  pull in extra dosh for parking – do you get it?

Gone to Pot claims the improvements will  protect and enhancing the natural environment. The scheme will also address some of the current parking issues on the site and surrounding roads.
“I am positive this scheme, if implemented, will benefit all who visit this wonderful place.” What next? a theme park perhaps?

And don’t worry chaps there is a bit of Green Belt we have our eye on in Cranleigh that we have just agreed will become a nice little earner for us – as a Waverley BC owned industrial estate!  That will only cost us £1m! Whether they like it  or not!  After all what’s so special about building on the Green Belt on  a major strategic gap!

These so called improvements at Frensham Ponds were opposed by Farnham Residents’ councillor Kika Mirylees, who objected to the £800,000 bill at a time when council tax is soon set to rise by 3.6 per cent.
Representing the council’s official opposition group, Mrs Mirylees proposed an amendment to cut budget costs by reducing the sum for a new visitor centre and cafe at Frensham and “refurbishing not redeveloping” the existing facilities.
This was voted down overwhelmingly however, with deputy leader Miss Potts telling the committee: “This is a very exciting plan. The buildings are not fit for purpose and it is a fantastic site, a jewel in our crown.”

6 thoughts on “Is this Waverley’s Newlands’ Corner fiasco?

  1. Good to know our money is in such safe claws – see latest research by Tax Payers’ Alliance on councillors’ allowances. Waverley comes top – hurrah?

    • To be fair, WBC are only ‘top’ in relation to the percentage increase over the past few years, and our total bill for Councillor Allowances had been one of the lowest.

      Despite it almost doubling, WBC’s total bill for Councillor Allowances is £307K, which is fairly average. Compare that with Surrey County Council’s total bill of almost £1.8 million.

      The issue is value. We are paying good money to people who lie, cheat, stitch us up, and bully any decent Councillors into turning a blind eye. That’s the real problem – ‘politics’, as instituted by Mr Blair, and finessed by Dave and his gang. . .

  2. But this is directly against Natural England’s avoidance strategy! Why would you encourge and increase capacity for visitors and dog walkers at a Wealden Heaths Special Protection Area to the south of Farnham, when the policy is to divert people away from the Thames Basin Heaths SPA (by increasing capacity at Farnham Park) to the north of Farnham. Isn’t this a real threat to the groundnesting birds we are protecting?
    http://jncc.defra.gov.uk/page-2049

  3. Realistically, the urbanisation of Frensham Great Pond (a Special Protection Area) and the introduction of a year-round £4 parking charge is the only was to preserve it for the wealthy, so where is the problem?

    Anyway, Officers have stated that the new single-storey building will be the same size as the concrete base of the existing chalet, yet will feature a much larger cafe, more accommodation and storage for the Rangers, and a suite for ‘educating’ groups of schoolchildren, so what we’re actually getting for our £840,000 is a tardis. No wonder Julia Potts is so excited !
    (Of course WBC projects always run 25% over-budget, e.g. Riverside, so make that £1 million – which is still pretty cheap for a tardis).

    The Officer Report to the 1st March Exec Meeting tells us that the National Trust haven’t agreed to it yet, because unlike the Waverley Executive they are not stupid enough to make such a decision without actually seeing the plans.

    The webcast of the Exec meeting illustrates very well the honest common sense of Farnham Residents’ Cllr John Williamson, compared to the ignorance and pre-determined Party Line of Mr Hunt’s ruling South West Surrey Conservative Association patsies – see https://youtu.be/hkMiWTr9xzM?t=915
    .

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