East Street/Brightwells

Judicial Review judgement handed down

2325 edited G

In the judgement from the preliminary hearing on 31 January, Mr Justice Dove ruled that the five claimants did not have the necessary standing to take Waverley Borough Council (WBC) to Judicial Review over management of the East Street / Brightwells development contract.

His reasoning was that a retendering of the scheme would not result in a development different to that currently proposed.

Click here to see full judgement

WBC  stated at the meeting in May 2016 that it was for the courts to decide upon the legality of the changes which they made to the development contract. WBC have prevented the courts from judging whether they have acted lawfully.

 

 

Brightwells Judicial Review – Preliminary Hearing

2325 edited D

Five local residents are taking Waverley Borough Council (WBC) to the High Court for a Judicial Review into the East Street / Brightwells development. There was a preliminary hearing, at the Royal Courts of Justice, on 31 January 2017, to establish the legal standing of the five claimants.

The five were granted permission in August 2016 to go to Judicial Review.  This was to examine whether WBC had behaved lawfully in their management of the development contract. Specifically, their case was that WBC failed to retender the contract after making significant changes to the benefit of the developer, Crest Nicholson. WBC challenged the legal standing of the claimants, arguing that a claim could only be brought by a rival developer. The matter was heard on 31 January before Mr Justice Dove. The judgement is expected to be announced within a few weeks of the hearing.

While the group of residents is not opposed to redevelopment of the area, it believes that the proposed scheme fails to provide what Waverley offered when they first set out their ideas for the development back in 2003. Click here to see how the scheme has changed.

Click here for an explanation of the JR process.

Brightwells model

Brightwells development seen from The Woolmead

Brightwells development seen from The Woolmead

The Farnham Society has constructed scale models of the Brightwells development from the architectural plans posted on the Waverley website. It demonstrates the sizes of the buildings and shows how they would dominate the surrounding part of the town.

IMG_6250

In an early version of the model, the largest building, designated D8, shows detailed appearance, while other buildings are shown in block form to illustrate their approximate size. D8 is top right in the picture above, and covers most of the Dogflud car park. It is a four storey ‘plus’ block, and would be the largest building in Farnham. The block is to house the cinema, shops and apartments, providing car parking on all levels of the building including lower ground level. The picture below illustrates its height relative to Brightwell House. It shows how the space on the south side of the house is dominated by the new tall buildings, to the detriment of the house.

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This central area is accessed by narrow alleyways, the picture below shows the approach from the existing sports centre.

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Likewise, the new Town Square, on the left hand side of Brightwell House in the picture below, is surrounded by high buildings and most of it will be in shadow for parts of the day.

IMG_6251

A later version of the model shows the proposed blocks in more detail.  The existing Brightwell House is shown in orange, and the model demonstrates clearly how it is dwarfed by the new blocks.

Model Image 5.17

Model Image 10.17

Model Image 12.17

The scale model presents a very different impression to that created by the Fly Through on the Waverley website. We have in the past wondered why Waverley have never produced a model of the scheme. We can now see why, having studied our own model.
After a photograph of the model was published in The Farnham Herald (week of 30 September 2106), various comments were made via Facebook:
John Spackman
September 29 at 11:40am
• Model depicts objectors’ fears
The Farnham Herald, Thursday 29th September 2016
Judi Fisher, Yolande Hesse and 6 others

Liam O’Reilly Where can I view this model David Howell?
Like · Reply · September 29 at 11:46am

Ben Shepherd So the picture look nothing like the model. What a surprise. We all love a bit of spin.

John Spackman • Planning Applications WA/2008/0279

http://planning.waverley.gov.uk/…/(RefNoLU)/WA20080279…

• D8 – East Elevation

http://www.waverley.gov.uk/…/WA2…/13512%20TPN-D8-050.pdf

• D8 – North Elevation

http://www.waverley.gov.uk/…/WA2…/13512%20TPN-D8-051.pdf

• D8 – South Elevation

http://www.waverley.gov.uk/…/WA2…/13512%20TPN-D8-052.pdf

• D8 – West Elevation

http://www.waverley.gov.uk/…/WA2…/13512%20TPN-D8-053.pdf

• D8 – Sectional Elevation 01

http://www.waverley.gov.uk/…/WA2…/13512%20TPN-D8-054.pdf

• D8 – Sectional Elevation 02

http://www.waverley.gov.uk/…/WA2…/13512%20TPN-D8-055.pdf

• D8 – Strip Elevations 01

http://www.waverley.gov.uk/…/13512%20TPN-D12-056.pdf

• D8 – Strip Elevations 02

http://www.waverley.gov.uk/…/13512%20TPN-D12-057.pdf

• D8 – Strip Elevations 03

http://www.waverley.gov.uk/…/WA2…/13512%20TPN-D8-058.pdf

• D8 – Strip Elevations 04

http://www.waverley.gov.uk/…/WA2…/13512%20TPN-D8-059.pdf

• D8 – Elevation in Context

http://www.waverley.gov.uk/…/WA2…/13512%20TPN-D8-060.pdf

Liam O’Reilly I assume the model was constructed be viewed by the public to convince people of the problem rather than to be viewed in private by a select few. I’d like to see it to understand the problem. Are there plans to display it publicly?

John Spackman • Magnified photograph of “The model showing Brightwell House ‘swamped’ by the new development”

Liam O’Reilly The model looks great. Is there somewhere we can view it?

Malcolm Bond Sorry, but this is an inappropriate monolith, completely unsuited to the plot size, and to Brightwells House, and, moreover, completely destroys Brightwells Gardens..

Martin Gardiner Crest removed all the nice bits, and Farnham picked up the tab.
Heads should roll.

Neil Farnham-Smith Shame the photo they published didn’t include the sports centre. I think that will shock people most about how different things will be.

Liam O’Reilly Why not make the model public? What’s the point of it if the people of Farnham can’t see it?

Martin Gardiner What I don’t understand is how WBC have the gall to leave that increasingly-misleading fly-through video on their website.
You would have to be quite foolish to believe it.

Liam O’Reilly No plans to allow the public to see this accurate model then?

Legal challenge to Brightwells gets go-ahead

Brightwells Masterplan 2016

Local residents have been fighting the plans by Waverley Borough Council and the developer Crest NIcholson to create a massive and unsustainable development in the centre of Farnham, south of East Street.  Permission has now been granted to take Waverley to court for a Judicial Review.

While the group of residents is not opposed to redevelopment of the area, it believes that the proposed scheme fails to provide what Waverley offered when they first set out their ideas for the development back in 2003. Click here to see how the scheme has changed.

The only way to halt this development, and to make way for a better and workable scheme, is by Judicial Review (JR). This is a legal process which has been started, with funds put up by The Farnham Society and Farnham Building Preservation Trust . Click here for an explanation of the JR process. To continue, further funds are needed NOW. An appeal is therefore being made to local people. An anonymous donor immediately came forward with a donation of £50,000.  Further fuds were raised in the period that followed, to support high quality legal representation.

The Farnham Society has offered to support by acting as a collecting point for donations. Please help, click here for a donation form.

Brightwells Restored

Brightwells Area

In 2002, local architect Michael Blower prepared sketches showing an alternative approach to the redevelopment of Brightwells. The scheme provided a town square, off East Street, offering a public venue for markets and outdoor events.

MB2

The square was enclosed to the south by a crescent, with a roof line matching The Marlborough Head public house, which, along with Brightwell house, was retained.

 MB1

In 2015 Michael Blower worked with Michael Holden on another alternative scheme, named  ‘Brightwells Restored’. The scheme retains Brightwell Garden as a public space, extending from Brightwell House to the river, and to be landscaped as a park. Two terraces of town houses flank the park, and provide 100 housing units, including affordable apartments. Retail and restaurant facilities are provided as well as a cinema, and a theatre is retained at Brightwell House. The scheme also provides 394 car parking spaces.

 Brightwells Restored view

Both the 2002 and the 2015 schemes follow the spirit of the original 2002 Local Plan, retaining public space, reflecting the historic character of the town and creating an entertainment and cultural centre around East Street.

JR donation form

Brightwell House in 1995

Brightwell House in 1995

 

FIGHT FOR FARNHAM JUDICIAL REVIEW 2016 CAMPAIGN

All information will be held in confidence and all donations gratefully acknowledged. If we do not use all funds received, then donations will be returned pro rata

  I donate £………………….to the campaign

 Name(s)……………………………………….. …………………

Address…………………………………………………………………………………………………

…………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………..

Phone………………………………..   Email ……………………………………………………………………….

 

Please send this form with a cheque, made payable to The Farnham Society

to the following address:   FIG, c/o 13 Lickfolds Road, Rowledge, Farnham GU10 4AF

Please write the reference FIGjr on the back of your cheque.

 

OR donate by BACS transfer to The Farnham Society at sort code 30-93-20 account no. 00119575

Please give the reference FIGjr when transferring by BACS and also email sfbrads@btinternet.com giving your name, address and amount donated to confirm that the transfer has been made

Click here for a PDF version of the form.

History of changes to East Street development

In 2002, Waverley Borough Council prepared a Development Brief, setting out what should be provided to the people of Farnham through redevelopment of the area south of East Street, around Brightwell House. The redevelopment required Brightwell Gardens to be retained as a public space, along with the bowling green and clubhouse. A new Gostrey Centre was to be provided within the development, close to its current town centre location. The scheme was to include a mix of housing, comprising privately owned flats together with social rented and affordable housing. The brief required limited commercial space to be included within the redevelopment. In the Farnham Herald of 12 December 2003, it was announced that the developers, Crest Nicholson Sainsbury (CNS), were to pay Waverley £20 million for the land under the scheme proposed at the time, and Waverley did not deny or challenge this. However, the scheme has been changed progressively over the years, to the economic benefit of the developer and to the detriment of Farnham. The scheme was subsequently reduced in scope, the Bowling Green was removed and the clubhouse marked for demolition. CNS were to be allowed to build over these sites, as well as part of the Brightwell Gardens.  A development agreement with CNS in 2009 gave a land value of £8.76 million. These changes in combination offered substantial economic benefit to CNS. The loss of public amenities and the reduced payment from the CNS are to the detriment of the people in the Farnham area. Further changes to the plan, approved by Waverley on 24 May 2016, relocated the Gostrey Centre to the Memorial Hall, thus moving it out of the town centre where it is needed by those who use it. The changes also removed the social rented and affordable housing (which made up 30% of the housing) replacing it with shared ownership housing, to the disadvantage of those on lower incomes and on the housing waiting lists. In addition to this, the Land Value was reduced to £3.19M. Once again, the changes are intended to benefit CNS to the detriment of Farnham. Unable to obtain funding from commercial lenders – who, it must be assumed, considered the scheme too risky – Waverley has now obtained funding from Surrey County Council, thus putting taxpayers’ (i.e. our) money at risk.  

FIG – grounds for JR

The contract for Crest Nicholson (CNS) to develop the East Street / Brightwells site is governed by  regulations controlling the running of a public contract. When Waverley Borough Council (WBC) as public authority originally put the East Street contract out to tender, CNS won after tendering in competition with other developers.  In simple terms, when a public contract is then changed to the benefit of the developer, the public authority is required to retender, so that the developers who lost in the original round of tendering have another chance, no that the contract has changed.

If the local authority fails to retender, they can be challenged in law. The challenge must be made within 30 days of the change, and it must come from someone of standing – that is, someone who is genuinely affected by the failure to retender. An example could be a local ratepayer, who believes he or she is no longer getting best value for money under the revised contract.

The East Street / Brightwells development can only proceed if it is financially viable, and this includes CNS  effectively paying WBC at least an agreed sum of money for the land – the Minimum Land Value (MLV). In the contract of 2009, this was agreed at £8.76 million for the (approximately) 7 acre of the site. However, CNS could not afford to proceed with the scheme, so on 24 May 2016, WBC agreed to reduce the MLV to £3.19 million. It is noted that while WBC already owned approximately 6 acres of the site to be developed, further land had to be acquired. This included the old health centre beside the Dogflud car park, the old cinema site (now a car park) and the Marlborough Head. The cost of acquiring this additional land is around £4 million. Instead of securing money for local taxpayers through sale of the land, WBC is would thus sell the land to CNS at less than cost price, so the local taxpayers would be subsidising CNS.

FIG is raising a challenge on the grounds that, with such a massive change to the benefit of CNS, WBC should retender the contract.

The challenge, if successful, would quash the 24 May 2016 decision by WBC, such that the higher MLV would stand. As CNS found the scheme was not viable with this higher MLV, it is expected that the scheme in its present form would not go ahead, and a full redesign would be necessary. This would be Farnham’s chance of getting a much improved development at Brightwells.

 

The Judicial Review Process

East Street / Brightwells development

Judicial Review

Farnham Interest Group (FIG) has now applied for permission to seek a Judicial Review into the East Street / Brightwells development.

FIG is a group representing The Farnham Society, Farnham Building Preservation Trust, and East Street Action Group. It was formed to challenge and fight the East Street redevelopment, as was proposed and has subsequently been revised. The Group is in favour of redevelopment of the area south of East Street, but is of the view that any development must be sustainable and must be in keeping with Farnham. In 2013, FIG challenged the Compulsory Purchase Order to acquire the Marlborough Head.

The Judicial Review is a process for examining whether the law has been followed when a planning decision was taken. It does not look into the planning merits of the decision.

FIG is seeking to overturn the planning decision made by Waverley Borough Council on 24 May 2016, to proceed with the East Street / Brightwells development, having made changes to the scheme. Regulations for Public Contracts require that when a significant change is made which benefits the developer financially, then the contract should be retendered. Otherwise, developers who tendered for the original scheme are put at a disadvantage. FIG therefore believe that WBC’s decision of 24 May was unlawful.

FIG has initiated the challenge by applying for permission for Judicial Review. This has entailed engaging a barrister to prepare a legal submission, which has now gone before a judge.

There are three possible outcomes: –
1. If the Judge deems there is a sufficiently arguable case then he will give leave (i.e. allow the applicant) to take it to an oral hearing, when it will be decided whether WBC’s decision was unlawful and therefore should be quashed;
2. If the Judge deems the case too complicated, this will effectively mean that deciding whether to give leave to go to a hearing entails as much work as deciding whether WBC’s decision was lawful. The case is then ‘rolled up’, and the judge will refer the issue to an oral hearing, which will decide the issue, as if leave had been granted.
3. If the Judge deems our case not sufficiently arguable and refuses to give leave, then the claimants will withdraw the application.

Costs of preparing the application have been met from the funds of The Farnham Society and Farnham Building Preservation Trust. The further funds required for the Judicial Review will be sought from a appeal to the public.

Please help FIG, click here for a donation form. Any contribution willingly accepted.

 

 

 

Proposed Extension, Refurbishment and Conversion of the Memorial Hall

Mem Hall Alterations

There have been several letters in the Farnham Herald recently about the question of the legality of Waverley Borough Council (WBC) relocating the Gostrey Centre into the Memorial Hall. Mark Westcott also spoke at The Farnham Society AGM on Tuesday 3 May about his views on WBC’s current proposals.

WBC granted themselves planning permission on 26 August 2015 to alter and extend the Memorial Hall, described as an existing multi-use community facility, to provide additional community services. Several residents of Farnham objected to the proposals, based on the location away from the town centre, the poor appearance of the proposed design, the impact that the shared use would have on existing users and the appalling impact that the extension would have on the Memorial Hall aesthetically.

You can view the approved Ground Floor Plan by clicking on this link (hyperlink HL1) and the approved Street Elevation by clicking on this link (hyperlink HL2).

What has been highlighted recently, Spring 2016, is the blatant disregard that WBC has shown for the Deed of Gift from Farnham United Breweries.

Farnham United Breweries Limited gifted the Hall and Sports Ground to Farnham Urban District Council in October 1947 ‘for the benefit of and use and enjoyment by the inhabitants of the Urban District of Farnham’. Clause 2 stated that ‘The Hall shall be maintained by the Council and shall primarily be  used for the purposes of organised indoor games, dancing and physical training and the Sports Ground shall be maintained as such and shall primarily be used for organised outdoor games, Sports and physical training

Clause 2 continues ‘but the Council may permit the Hall and/or Sports Ground to be used for any activity of an educational culture social recreative or charitable nature which the Council shall in its discretion deem to be a normal and desirable activity for such a Hall and/or Sports Ground and the Council shall in particular give consideration to (a) organised childrens Sports and the training therefor  and (b) the meetings of the Farnham Elementary Schools Association and the training therefor.’

The important words are ‘Council may permit’ and ‘shall in its discretion deem to be a normal and desirable activity’. The Gostrey Centre currently provides a range of services to the elderly between 9am and 4pm. It must be questioned whether the Gostrey Centre relocating to the Memorial Hall will effectively prevent the many other users being able to use the Hall as they have, negating the Gostrey Centre use being considered a desirable activity in the terms of the Deed of Gift.

The following link will connect you to the transcribed document that Mark Westcott completed, (hyperlink HL3), this link will connect you to the plan attached to the Deed of Gift, (hyperlink HL4).

The approved proposals for the Memorial Hall which enable the Gostrey Centre to relocate to the Hall breach the conditions of the Deed. The Deed states that ‘The Council shall not build or allow to be built upon any part of the said premises any building or erection other than in connection with the objects specified in Clause 2 above’. It seems that Waverley would potentially be in direct contravention of this clause.

Yes, the Gostrey Centre carries out highly commendable social and charitable work but doing so in the Memorial Hall will be contrary to the Deed and exclude or restrict the purposes for which the Hall was gifted to the residents of Farnham.

What would the descendants of the owners of Farnham United Breweries think ? What would the descendants of the members of staff of Farnham United Breweries who died in the service of their country in the First World War think ?

HL5 Memorial Hall Plaque

Especially this year, when Farnham commemorated the 100th anniversary of the first ever recorded two-minute silence.

The extension and refurbishment works to the Hall are due to start next month, June 2016,

Contact one of your Ward Town Councillors http://www.farnham.gov.uk/town-council/councillors2015 and / or your Borough Councillors (hyperlink HL6) and express your dissatisfaction if you feel that Waverley are acting in an inappropriate manner, disregarding the clearly stated Covenants attached to the Deed of Gift.

 

Proposed Redevelopment of the Memorial Hall Sports Ground for Housing

Also recently, the issue of Farnham Town Football Club relocating to Brambledon Park in Weydon Lane has been in the headlines, (hyperlink HL7), the intimation being that the cost of the relocation would be funded by the development of the Memorial hall Sports Ground for housing. Covenants in the Deed of Gift state, as above, that the Council shall not build on the Sports Ground unless in accordance with Clause 2, above, which states that it should be used only for organised outdoor games, Sports, etc.

The expenditure of an estimated £50,000 of public money has been authorised to undertake a feasibility study of relocating the Football Club to Brambledon Park. It could be argued that public money should not be spent taking legal advice on how to get around the terms of the Covenants in the Deed of Gift unless it is self evident that circumstances have changed so much from the time of the Gift that it is now in the interests of the residents of Farnham that overruling the Covenants is justified.

It has been acknowledged that there is a shortage of recreational space in Farnham and across the Waverley Borough, so building houses on the land would be contrary to that aim.

Yes, Farnham does need new houses, but to sacrifice the Sports Ground is an unacceptable step. Building on the Sports Ground would send an unfortunate message to any current or future benefactors considering gifting community facilities to the residents of Farnham, knowing that their wishes would very likely be ignored.

If you think it is completely wrong and inappropriate for Waverley to fund the relocation of the Football Club by selling off the Memorial Hall Sports Ground for a housing development, please express your concern by contacting your local Councillor, details in the hyperlink above.

WBC Meeting on East Street

Waverley Borough Council

Waverley Borough Council

Waverley Borough Council has decided to proceed with the East Street/Brightwells development. A Special Executive Meeting on 24 May, recommended proceeding, and this was followed by a full Council meeting which approved the recommendation.

The proceedings can be viewed as a webcast via the WBC website

www.waverley.gov.uk

 

Demolition of Tennis Club pavilion

Waverley Borough Council

Waverley Borough Council

Following the approval in June of a Non Material Amendment, the Tennis Club pavilion was demolished at the beginning of August. This allowed both Waverley Borough Council and Crest Nicholson to claim that work on the Brightwell site started before the planning consent expired, thus eliminating the necessity to submit a further planning application.

Some clearance work along the northern side of the A31 was undertaken in August, and red marker posts have appeared in the grass verge alongside the carriageway, at the site of the proposed temporary access bridge. However there has been no anouncement relating to funding, leading to speculation that Crest Nicholson are considering proceeding without construction of the bridge (to save money).