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!
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.”