The next steps for a Godalming High Street store.

Has the former M & Co store in Godalming become a saga for ‘Your Waverley?’

 Today, Tuesday, the council will meet to take the next step in deciding the future of the former high street store to boost its finances and help the high street.

 69 High Street, Godalming.

The Executive claims that making small but serious acquisitions like this and actively supporting the high streets while  Government cash reduces year after year is the only way the council can increase its revenue to support local services. **
Was paying £2,634  to make money sensible use of taxpayers’ money?
In early August, the Executive approved a budget of £230,000 to redesign the shop and £1,730,000 to cover the cost of the work to the commercial unit.
According to Council Leader Paul Follows, a prospective commercial tenant IS lined up for the site. He said:
We are undertaking the next stage of the project to split the site into the commercial front and the residential back as per our original intent when the building was acquired.
We have of course been working in the background on the design, build and planning etc as well as firming up the terms with the commercial partner taking on the front of the building.
As the council cannot control who goes on a site on the high street unless we own it, and we do not get to set rent rates unless we own it (alas, we still don’t control business rates or get to keep more than 5p in the £ of them) – this is part of our plan to intervene positively on the high street where good opportunities present themselves.
Councillors will be asked to review and give approval to the business plan and the next stages of the works.
 In making small but serious acquisitions like this, we can actively support our high streets, be a good and sustainable landlord with a long-term view of the towns in Waverley and also use the revenue to support local services.
 The meeting tomorrow, assuming the council approves, will advance the project and will allow us and the new tenant to get cracking on the physical work on site. 

One local asked:

Are you leading us in the same direction as Woking Borough Council? Where is this money coming from?
Said Cllr Follows: 
 It’s essentially our own money, with some borrowing from the Public Works Loan Board (PWLB) for small investments and regeneration projects such as this.
The scale of what Woking did is hundreds and hundreds of times beyond any of this. This is a shop on the high street, not vast shopping complexes, residential tower blocks and hotels.
We also intend to retain ownership of the commercial site and the residential component.
I entirely understand the concerns with the news is full of places like woking, but small, serious and well-managed things like this are not remotely in the same league. We also have good governance and financial control in place, unlike Woking at that time.

Meanwhile, in Cranleigh. A Call from Andy Webb on the Cranleigh Community Board. Shop Closing.

With the sad news that Cockerills Shoe Shop is closing, there will be yet another empty shop on Cranleigh High Street.
It’s okay for the Chamber of Commerce to publish the increasing weekly footfall on the high street, which is hardly surprising with all the new housing developments. The fact is, this does not reflect how many people are supporting local independent shops.
More needs to be done to promote local independent retailers; landlords and local authorities should do more to help. As this will probably not happen, this group will advertise our independent retailers weekly to help promote them.
If you are a local shop or retailer or would like to recommend any of them, please do so on this post. Every few days, we change the cover photo to promote local retailers.
** A survey of 47 local authorities has revealed many may face bankruptcy next year. Twelve councils are currently debating whether to issue 114 notices for 23/24
The Government refuses to recognise the significant inflationary pressures that local authorities have dealt with during the last 12 months.
However, a Government spokesman said councils are responsible for their own finances.

4 thoughts on “The next steps for a Godalming High Street store.”

  1. We were originally promised some kind of “food” store at the former M & Co and everyone got very excited at the prospect of an M & S Food but it now seems unlikely. In fact this would probably be very detrimental to Kendrews our lovely little High Street Supermarket which does so well. Maybe we need another coffee shop !!!! Time will no doubt tell eventually. Very sad to hear of Cockerills closing. It is one of very few independent shoe shops left. We still have one in Godalming at the moment happily.

  2. Councillors might consider that this public money belongs to the hard-pressed council taxpayers, who deserve the fiduciary duty of prudence.

    Whilst it is ultimately for a judge or auditor to decide. It is difficult to see how this expenditure meets the legal obligation for a prudent investment policy that meets its two critical objectives:
    • Security – protecting the capital sum invested from loss; and
    • Liquidity – ensuring the funds invested are available for expenditure when needed. Hopefully this risked expenditure is within the Local Authority’s power.

    Issued under section 15(1)(a) of the Local Government Act 2003 and effective for financial years commencing on or after 1 April 2018.

  3. Certainly not against sensible investment nor even a little bit or risk and good fortune. Happy unexpected circumstances can lead to great things.
    What planet is the borough living on!
    Six months ago it was “We have to build on the car park or go bust”
    Now it’s borrow a little bit more and hope for the best. As if one small retail development will bring in enough tax revenue to keep an entire borough afloat.
    It won’t it cannot.
    And what will happen to the asset when things go belly up, as they undoubtedly will?
    The enormous retail elephant in the room is not of course not in Godalming, but Farnham. BrightWells. We are supposed to ignore it’s vast emptiness and it’s long-term costs. The noose around the borough and county neck.

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