East Street/Brightwells

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).

Demolition of Redgrave Theatre

RedgraveDemo4 (800x600)

On Monday 26 January, Waverley’s Joint Planning Committee approved the planning application to demolish the Redgrave Theatre, along with boundary walls to Brightwell House and the cottage.

 

BBC South were present to film outside the Council Offices , and to conduct interviews with Theatre supporters, including Andrew Welch and David Wylde, Performers Together and Farnham Theatre Association.

RedgraveDemo2

Photographs courtesy of Mike Silver and Mike Bryan

 

 

 

 

 

 

East Street/Brightwells Update

Brightwell House in 1995

Brightwell House in 1995

The Waverley website page on the East Street/Brightwells development has not been updated since 15 January; Making Waves no longer mentions the project and the Waverley Executive will not answer questions about the funding situation or the potential starting date of the development.

In October, Waverley applied for Listed Building Consent for demolition of the Redgrave Theatre, along with boundary walls, the toilet block and the cottage. As of 28 December, the website shows the application as ‘Pending Decision’. English Heritage raised an objection, calling for the walls and cottage to be retained as they form part of the setting for Brightwells House. In spite of this, part of the garden wall was demolished shortly before Christmas, to be replaced with fencing. Brightwells Wall demolition

There is no mention on the website of the demolition, nor of English Heritage’s objection. Waverley councillor Julia Potts is quoted as claiming that “.. the wall presented a danger to the public ..” and that “emergency repairs, which included partial demolition, were immediately carried out”. The Farnham Herald of 26 December quotes Jerry Hyman’s response – “Brightwell House was constructed 220 years ago, yet the council expects us to believe that the need for demolition became urgent three weeks after English Heritage asked for the East Street project to be redesigned to retain the walls. The Heras fencing that is now in place would have been sufficient to ensure public safety. Following on from the commencement of the East Street project at Riverside without EIA or planning consent, this act is sacrilege, and councillor Potts’ talk of Waverley’s responsibilities is an insult to our intelligence.”

On 3 January, the Herald reported that an unnamed spokesman from Waverley had stated that the damage was caused by the root system of a nearby tree; that the bricks removed from the wall had been retained for rebuilding of the wall; and that the emergency work was unrelated to the pending application for Listed Building Consent. However, Waverley have not published any details of structural surveys, nor have they explained why the wall had suddenly become dangerous – the nearby tree has evidently been growing next to the wall for some considerable time.  We await details of a schedule for rebuilding of the wall.

CPO Inquiry

Waverley were not quite so reticent at the time of the Compulsory Purchase Order (CPO) inquiry in January 2013, when the project was regularly described as “shovel ready”.  Their Statement of case, dated September 2012 stated

“Crest Nicholson wishes to proceed with the Scheme as soon as possible following confirmation of the Order. The Council, having taken professional advice, is satisfied that the Scheme is viable, the developer has the financial resources to deliver it, and that upon completion of site assembly there will be no other impediments to implementation of the Scheme.”

“The Brightwells scheme is viable and can be delivered. It is the intention of  Crest Nicholson to progress the development immediately on securing the Order Lands. The Scheme will be funded with a mixture of equity provided by Crest Nicholson and forward funding investment from a financial institution.”

Planning Inspector’s Conclusions

The Planning Inspector at the CPO inquiry was of course obliged to regard statements from Waverley as reliable evidence, but we have to wonder what he would now think about the conclusions that he came to in granting the CPO application based on the evidence from Waverley and Crest Nicholson.

“Objectors question the viability of the scheme, but an independent financial appraisal commissioned by CN shows conclusively that the scheme is viable in demand, value and commercial terms. There are substantial third party commitments, with significant pre-letting secured to key tenants. While they may have been attracted by significant incentives that Is an entirely normal approach for a development of this kind. It can be expected that their presence would lead to an increase in demand when the remaining units are marketed.

Negotiations are also in train to release the affordable units to a social landlord . Up-to-date construction costs and development revenues have been independently assessed and are current and reliable. CN anticipates a 15% profit on turnover which, given the degree of ‘derisking’, is an appropriate level of return for this development. I consider that all this demonstrates convincingly that the development scheme is viable.”

“Funding would be a joint venture between CN, who would fund the infrastructure and residential elements of the scheme, and an institutional lender, who would fund the commercial elements. CN is a secure and substantial organisation with considerable experience of similar town centre redevelopments. While the funding partner was not named at the inquiry for reasons of commercial confidentiality, the draft ‘Heads of Terms’ of an Agreement under discussion gives an indication of the attractiveness of the project to external funding institutions.Additional public funding has also been granted to enable the development timetable to be brought forward.”

“There are no financial impediments to implementation and, given that detailed planning permissions are in place and funding is available, there is every prospect that, upon completion of the land assembly, the scheme would proceed. I consider that the financial viability of the scheme has been firmly established.”

BrightwellHouse1995_L.jpg
Brightwells House now

So we can’t say what the current funding situation is on the development or when it is likely to start.

However in terms of the accuracy, reliability and credibility of what we were told about the availability of funding and the starting date of the development  two years at the CPO inquiry the quotations above speak for themselves.