Has Grade 2 Listed Brightwell House been sacrificed on the altar of incompetence and ineptitude of Waverley BC and the Farnham Residents Party?
What do you think?
Local Architectural Consultant and Landscape Architect Mark Westcott thinks the physical damage is extensive, and the building has, effectively, been trashed.
Brightwells House is Grade 2 listed. It is a building that the former Waverley administration tried to demolish. The smallest building on the site, although it is being extended with a large two-storey extension to the north side ( see the main South elevation below). I am told it is being re-rendered and refurbished to the highest standards. We will see. It will be dwarfed by the buildings that surround it. I recall reading somewhere that it was seen as the centrepiece. In my experience, you don’t surround your most treasured article with vast over-dominant other things.
The Farnham Theatre Association fully supports Mark’s efforts to restore the house according to the Listed Building Conditions for this Grade 2 building, conditions imposed when the Conservative-led administration gave the £115m + m Waverley & Surrey County Council funded Brightwells Development the go-ahead.
Is it any wonder that SW Surrey MP Jeremy Hunt has dumped Farnham for a safer seat at the next election in Godalming & Ash? Goodbye, Farnham, hello, Godalming and Ash.
It is disgraceful that Waverley has allowed this to happen and that developers Crest Nicholson has taken advantage of the Western Planning Committee and the Council’s Planning Department’s weakness.
The Farnham Theatre Association fully supports Mark’s efforts to see that the house is restored to its former Regency glory according to the Listed Building Conditions for the Grade 2 house imposed by Waverley.
Like Mark Westcott, the Waverley Web has tried on the council’s planning portal to find more publicly available information on the debacle that is Blightwells (which is how we refer to this unpopular development.) What did we find?
A complete disarray of superseded and extant drawings and numerous applications; to chimneys, roof structure and construction, cutting through and disposal of original roof timbers, internal and external finishes through to doors and windows, extensive conflicting drawings, absence of structural engineers’ drawings, and detail drawings, any conservation officer approvals etc., everywhere he, and we looked and investigated, is an absolute mess. The physical damage is extensive. The building has, effectively, been trashed.
Mark said: “There is so much wrong that it’s extremely difficult to know where to start. In the absence of any express and written conservation officers’ approvals to any of the things that have happened, I cannot avoid the conclusion that there has been what is normally considered to be criminal damage to a Grade ll Listed by the contractor”.
“I believe the building can be rescued and reinstated, but it’ll require considerable care and expertise, skill, time and cost, not to mention the determined will to do so on the part of both the Local Authority partners and the Developer”.
“It seems to me that it’s of the utmost importance that it is dealt with as promptly as possible if we stand any chance of getting it put right in any reasonable time”.
Mr Westcott has written to the Chief Executive of Waverley & Guildford Councils calling for urgent action, saying…
As promised, I am attaching some site photographs showing all manner of damage, from ripped-out French windows and fanlights (which I’m told have been thrown away, despite being required by the Listed Building Consent to be refurbished), ditto sash windows (also thrown away, same LBC condition), circular saw chopped and sawn shutter box architraves, extensive damage to shutter boxes, vastly oversized chimney stacks built in blockwork rather than brickwork and not in accordance with any drawings etc.
Frankly, I was shocked by what I saw today and hope that an early meeting with the heads of the relevant services, the officers responsible, and the relevant Directors of Crest Nicholson may give us a chance of getting the project back on course”.
Mark Westcott is an Architectural Consultant and Landscape Architect DipLA(Leeds) DipArch(Mac) BArch(Glas)