Was it COVID or developers that finally killed off David Mann and Sons in Cranleigh? The high street store which symbolised the face of Cranleigh for 133 years has gone into voluntary liquidation. Rumours, we are told by the locals over there, have been rife for over a year that the store was heading for closure.
There is no doubt that the retail sector has been badly punished by the Coronavirus epidemic but is the latest victim, a store that has a county-wide reputation built up over 133 years, another victim of the vicious virus? Or was the store always gleam in the eyes of the developer partnership of Nick Vrijland and Andy Leahy? Mr Vrijland’s burgeoning property portfolio also includes the adjacent properties – of Oliver House. He was also the owner of the Knowle Park Initiative site at West Cranleigh Nurseries. Sold to housing association A2 Dominion shortly after planning consent was granted to build “homes for village people?” Although consent was given in 2017 – so far not a home built on the former nursery and a detailed scheme, yet to be approved.
Cranleigh Chamber of Commerce sought major development in Cranleigh. In fact, it was instrumental in campaigning for and supporting the huge number of new homes being built in the village – dubbed as the largest village in England.” The village that the Chamber of Commerce publicly called for the house-building explosion, saying what the ‘new town’ needed was …
“More footfall for local shops.”
Now, with many empty shops lining its high street, despite the valiant efforts of many local entrepreneurs setting up their stall only to fail, the developers are moving in.
It is no secret that the majority owner of the store Dutch nurseryman turned Developer Nick Vrijland – wants to build 90 flats on the David Manns site. The Waverley Web understands this scheme found no favour with Waverley Planners during their initial discussions – but a slimmed-down scheme will presumably soon be considered.
So gone are the days when the premier store was a magnet for local people, many of whom furnished their homes from top to bottom with its wares.
One of its past amazing Christmas Window displays is featured here. Displays which we understand from the locals over there won many awards.
Will a shop remain to front the high street called ?? You’ve heard of Pound land how about VRI’LAND? Because Vri in Dutch means Free!