Regular followers of the Farnham Herald and this little minnow The Waverley Web, will know that Surrey County Council is investing over £50m of OUR MONEY in the development of Blightwells in Farnham! Bu**er, the Redgrave Theatre, and the popular Marlborough Head pub – which were once part of Farnham’s character – and the centrally placed Gostrey old people’s centre. Bu**er the bats, the bowling green and the open character – let’s fill in with shops and restaurants to attract the Wimbledon and Wandsworth Wanderers to our town.
Some stores have already pulled out, others may soon follow – and why is this happening?
BECAUSE WAVERLEY BOROUGH COUNCILLORS HAVE STOPPED LISTENING TO THE PEOPLE THEY ARE THERE TO REPRESENT.
Except of the Farnham Residents’ councillors, who are SHUT UP at every stick and turn and Godalming’s new boy Councillor Paul Follows who said: “I am wondering why the council’s web page for Brightwells has not been updated since March (still includes Byron Burgers!). nd the Memorial Hall not since January?! Surely supporters of those against the scheme have a right to have up to date information on what’s going on. Unless of course there is some reason for this?
Apparently the answer is simple: Waverley is producing a new up-dated Blightwells website and sending in the bulldozers!
Now you see it – soon you won’t.
6 thoughts on “Here’s what Farnham people think about our local authorities cunning plan to invest our money in more shops and restaurants.”
What will happen to Farnham if our retail centre fails?
This is an open letter to all decision makers, developers, architects, organisations and members of the public who should consider the future of Farnham’s town centre. Last year, the Government asked for a review of the nation’s High Streets, which have been widely reported as struggling, caused by the increasing use of internet shopping, high rents and business rates. On the 4th July this year, retail expert, Bill Grimsey published his Review entitled, The Vanishing High Street.
In Farnham, we survived the 2008/9 recession better than most, as we have been able to draw shoppers and visitors to a wide selection of independent shops set in very attractive surroundings. Approximately one third of shoppers on the town’s narrow streets and alleyways come from North East Hampshire and beyond, attracted to the town’s historic architecture and atmosphere. However, by 2018 even this advantage has not been enough to sustain the retail element in the town centre and we see an increasing number of shops going out of business.
Two vast modern developments in East Street now threaten the viability of our historic town. The Woolmead and Brightwells both contain a large number of new retail outlets. Waverley Borough Council considers that a ‘dumbbell’ effect, with two retail areas, new to the east and old to the west, would bring commercial benefits to Farnham, but this thinking must surely now be questioned.
The Grimsey Review contains a telling phrase: “struggling retailers should no longer be relied upon to prop up ailing town centres.”
Waverley’s Local Plan Part 2 consultation has just ended. This is an opportunity for planners to utilise NPPF guidance to diversify town centre uses. The Farnham Theatre Association (FTA) submission points to the Grimsey Review for evidence that community hubs are needed in town centres to support the retail area. Waverley’s existing Town Centres policy statement is positive about “schemes that will encourage investment and increase the viability and vitality of the area through a mix of town centre uses including markets and food and drink.” The FTA recommendation is to add the following words taken from The Vanishing High Street: ‘community hubs based on health, education, entertainment, leisure, arts and crafts’ and also to add, “in town centres” to the Policy for Tourism, where Waverley seems to focus only on rural tourism.
In 2015 FTA promoted an alternative community scheme: Brightwells Restored, which was backed by the Farnham Society and was shown to Council leaders at Farnham Town Council. This scheme anticipated the decline in retail and indicated a Curzon-style cinema/community theatre complex with an entrance on the old cinema site in East Street, opposite the Woolmead. This scheme indicated a greatly reduced number of retail units together with elegant terraced housing on the parkland at Brightwells.
Neither the Brightwells nor Woolmead schemes is built. Waverley, by abandoning all the Brightwells ‘required elements’ which were fundamental parts of the original development brief – Gostrey Centre, Bowling Club, Cobbett Clock and CAB – demonstrates that nothing is ‘set in stone’. In light of the Grimsey Review and since Waverley has swept away all community activities on the Brightwells site, we now urge decision makers, developers, architects, organisations and the public to suggest radical new solutions for the outdated concepts of the approved schemes at Brightwells and the Woolmead. Put community first, before it is too late!
It was not “Godalming’s new boy Councillor Paul Follows” who wrote “I am wondering why the council’s web page for Brightwells has not been updated since March (still includes Byron Burgers!) …” but another contributor to “Say Yes to the Appropriate Development of East Street”, who tagged Cllr Fellows in their post:
We here at the WW beg your pardon. Mea Culpa! However, he is demanding answers to questions he has posed on Farnham’s behalf. We kniw he is nit the onky one who asks questions, but isnt it time those questions were answered?
Yes sorry Waverley Web that certainly wasn’t me (and yes I was copied into that discussions).
I absolutely do not remotely disagree with the sentiment though.
I saw at the members briefing for Brightwells on Tuesday, before full council that Sainsbury’s was listed as one of the anchor stores?!!
How does that work?
Perhaps we have been shopping in another store called Sainsbury’s all these years without knowing it!?!!