Birchgrove Posh Retirement flats in Godalming coming soon?

Despite a shedload of objections – including one from  Godalming Town Council the old Mole Country Stores site is set to become an up-market retirement complex. Rents circa £5,000 pm + council tax.

Waverley’s eastern planners have given Birchgrove the go-ahead to build – provided it can get rid of any Badgers lying low.

Could a different style of care for older people be on its way to Godalming?

The Town Council objected to the  52 assisted living units (along with 45 neighbours and objectors.

The scheme is for two buildings, one five-storeys high, which many believe will dominate  Godalming’s town centre. However, there will be a nice view for its residents on the roof garden, conservatory and pergola area. which overlooks the town. 

Of the 52 units, 24 would be one-bedroom and 28 would be two-bedroom with an age restriction of 65+ years for tenants.

A total of 27 parking spaces would be provided within the site. These would include 24 spaces for staff, residents and visitors; a minibus parking space; and 2 disabled spaces? Some councillors were very concerned about the limited parking available.

There is already a Birchgrove development in nearby Woking.
The company claims to be different from most other extra care developments in the country, as it works on a rental model. It believes that renting a home instead of owning is the most liberating form of tenure for older people seeking extra care. This offers the benefits of independent living whilst removing the complication of homeownership? The proposed one and two-bedroom apartments are only available for weekly rent to people over the age of 65.
Typical rent for a two-bedroom property is in the region of £5,000 per month – but with only council tax to pay. All other utilities and services are included.

Planning officers acknowledged there were concerns about the design and visual impact on neighbours but were satisfied the site could accommodate the development without too much harm.  Surrey County Council is backing the scheme, saying the elderly accommodation is needed in Godalming.

Objectors believe the site should not be used for accommodation, but used to create a vibrant future for Godalming and focus on bolstering the high street and income to the community – e.g. a shopping outlet, cinema, food market, medical centre etc. Some want an Aldi or a Lidl.

Neither do they believe there is a need as there is already EP accommodation less than half a mile away.  Better sites could be identified.  Traffic would increase, and the access point is unsuitable.  Demolition of a listed building, impact to listed building • Impact on light levels to public footpath • Pressure would increase on already overstretched existing local infrastructure and resources.


However, the elephant in the room remains. Waverley does not have a 5-year housing land supply which makes the whole borough vulnerable. There is already a stack of appeals waiting in the wings – many in the eastern villages – due to Dunsfold’s new garden village (circa 2,600 homes) not coming forward as expected.

2 thoughts on “Birchgrove Posh Retirement flats in Godalming coming soon?”

  1. Hi there from sunny Suffolk. Thank goodness I won’t have to look at this glorified office block. Heavens above surely no architect would want to see their parents living in such a depressing place.

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