By David Berry

Local authorities have a statutory duty to manage conservation areas. Waverley has responsibility for the Farnham Town Centre Conservation Area, which stretches from The William Cobbett pub to Farnham Castle, and westwards as far as the Memorial Hall. Councillor Carole Cockburn chairs a management group comprising councillors, council officers, and members of other interested parties including the Farnham Society. The group, known as FCAMP, is currently overseeing a number of on-going projects in the Conservation Area.


The Bishop’s Steps run alongside Castle Street up to the Castle entrance. A project started around two years ago to restore and improve the steps and develop the garden area on the eastern side of the pathway between the steps and the Castle wall.  The financial difficulties and change of ownership at the Castle resulted in a substantial delay. Repairs were made to the steps in 2012, with new paving and edging. Electrical supplies for the lighting on the steps have been installed and the retaining wall has been renovated. A new gardener has started work on the area beside the steps, and a plaque is being made to mark the renovation work.

Sadly, progress on other projects has been slow, for a number of reasons.


A project to de-clutter the town of unnecessary signage has stalled. As of 18 months ago only seven signs had been removed. Additional funding is needed to continue the work and a further survey of the town will be carried out to prioritise further removals. Surrey County Council have expressed support, but there are safety issues to be addressed.


Maintenance of the ‘fingerpost’ pedestrian street signage produced a survey last September which identified redundant signs to be removed, and signs to be repaired and corrected. No action has as yet been taken following the survey. Funding was originally offered by Farnham Town Council, but it is uncertain when that funding will be available for work to proceed. A project for the signage of Farnham yard has funding in place and designs approved. Work continues to establish the historical provenance of names like ‘Fishy Stevens Yard’.


Shopfront guidelines have now been approved, though this has taken time because of the need for Waverley to consult with the other villages under their authority. The group has not seen the details or recommendations, but were after a limited colour palate and style being used in the Heritage areas, and a ban on plastic or gaudy signage. These new guidelines can only be put into effect on change of usage or ownership, and will not apply retrospectively.


The large bollards which were installed in the Farnham Library entrance are now to be replaced with ‘Heritage’ cast-iron bollards more in keeping with the town.


Plans to renovate the Culver Room at Farnham Library have been approved by Surrey CC, and work should start shortly.


Improvements to the footpath through the Robert Dyas yard, between the Central car park and Downing Street, entail replacement of the fence and new surfacing on the footpath. The path is a permissive right of way which is privately owned and paid for by Waverley (by a peppercorn rent with conditions). There are legal issues to be addressed between the various stakeholders before work can proceed.