Planning

Waverley Lane planning inquiry update July 2017

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Waverley Lane, Farnham, Planning Inquiry Update July 2017

The Secretary of State’s office have sought responses to events, cases and information submitted by interested parties since April, including the Waverley Local Plan EiP, judicial review hearing and decision, and court cases decisions related to similar circumstances. The latest date advised by his office by which a decision will be made is 13 September 2017.

Previous website posting below

ComptonWayPicture

The Public Inquiry Appeal by Wates Development Ltd against Waverley’s refusal of their planning application for 157 dwellings on the fields in Waverley Lane started on Tuesday 16 August 2016, and the first session lasted until Tuesday 23 August when the hearing was adjourned. The hearing was reconvened on Tuesday 18 October, the second session and hearing closing on Thursday 20 October. Wates withdrew the two supplementary applications but appealed the first and main application which received 1,192 objections.

The appeal was ‘recovered’, the planning term for the Secretary of State (SoS) calling in the final decision, after the Farnham Neighbourhood Plan was found to meet the basic conditions for Neighbourhood Plans on 22 February 2017. With recorded appeals the Inspector makes a recommendation but the SoS’s office will decide whether they will allow the appeal.

On 17 March the SoS’s office informed Waverley and Wates that they had until 31 March 2017 to submit representation to them resulting from the Farnham Neighbourhood Plan being found to meet the conditions and going to referendum on 4 May.

The Inquiry Hearing between 16 August and 23 August was well attended by residents. Thank you if you attended. The Inspector does record residents’ interest in the appeal. Independent Ward Councillor Andy MacLeod participated during the Appeal Hearing particularly on the question of the Five Year Housing Land Supply and the fact that the delivery of houses is by housing developers not Waverley. South Farnham Residents’ Association (SOFRA) questioned several of Wates’ consultants called to provide evidence and the Bourne Conservation Group and Peter Bridgeman gave evidence to support the defence of the Appeal.

Amenity Awards 2017

AmenityAwardPlaque2015

TFS_Logo       THE FARNHAM SOCIETY

Nomination for Amenity Awards 2017

The purpose of the Awards is to ‘encourage and stimulate architects, developers and contractors to undertake the highest level of design and workmanship in preserving and improving existing buildings and in new buildings.’

Nominations will be judged on a selection of the following criteria:

Contemporary

Sympathetic to and integrates well with existing buildings

Designed for its location and fulfils its purpose

Environmentally sustainable

There will be three levels of achievement:

Exceptional

Highly commended

Commended

In 2015 The Farnham Society presented Amenity Awards to the following buildings or schemes for outstanding design.

 
    DanielHallAmenityAward           ForgeAmenityAward

Daniel Hall                                                               The Forge, Upper Church Lane (Plaque)                                                                   (Highly Commended)

    SweetShoppeAmentiyAwards          PotteryAmenityAwards

Mr Simms Olde Sweet Shoppe, Downing St                 Farnham Pottery         (Plaque)                                                                     (Highly Commended)

This year we are asking The Farnham Society members to nominate buildings or a scheme that they consider are worthy of one of these awards.

If you would like to nominate one building or scheme please do so, on the website, by returning the form that can be printed off the website – click here to download - or by completing the form which was included in AGM pack to the address below. Alternatively, complete the form at the bottom of this page.

The buildings or schemes must be within the Farnham Town Council boundary, completed between June 2015 and August 2017 and be visible from an accessible road, footpath or space. One nomination per person

The deadline for nominations is Friday 25 August 2017

Award certificates and plaques will be presented at the 2018 AGM

The Planning Committee have, in discussion, proposed for example, the following two for the shortlist:

    WeydonAmenityAwards      GuildofrdRoadAmenityAwards

Medici Building at Weydon School       Housing development on Guildford Road

Postal address for nominations The Farnham Society c/o 13 Lickfolds Road, Rowledge, Farnham, GU10 4AF

The Farnham Society
Nomination for Amenity Awards 2017

I would like to nominate the following building or scheme for The Farnham Society’s 2017 Amenity Awards:

Building

Address

Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)

Your Message

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.

 

 

Neighbourhood Plan Consultation

NeighPlan

Farnham Neighbourhood Plan Regulation 15, July 2016

The Farnham Neighbourhood Plan has finished its consultation stage, last comments having been accepted on Monday 3 October 2016.

The documents can be viewed on both the Waverley Borough Council website, http://www.waverley.gov.uk/info/1004/planning_policy/1728/farnham_neighbourhood_plan

and the Farnham Town Council website http://www.farnham.gov.uk/services/shapefarnham/regulation-16-supporting-documents/the-draft-regulation-15-neighbourhood-plan

 

 

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

 

Consultation on Recycling Centre

scc

Surrey County Council has conducted a public consultation aimed at reducing the cost of operating recycling centres. This included the Farnham recycling centre in Guildford Road. Notably, the consultation looked at the options of closure of recycling centres, restricting opening hours, and charging for disposal of certain types of waste.

The consultation closed in September 2015.

For further information, see the Surrey County Council website.

Waverley Lane Development

Created from Ordnance Survey Street View

Created from Ordnance Survey Street View

 

PLANNING APPLICATION FOR 157 HOMES ON WAVERLEY LANE FIELDS

 South Farnham Residents’ Association have made the following appeal.

 

Wates Developments have applied to build 157 houses on the fields at the top of Waverley Lane, cleverly submitting three separate planning applications at once to baffle and confuse the people of Farnham.

 

WA/2015/0771 for 157 houses on both fields

WA/2015/0894 for 98 houses on the field near Old Compton Lane.

WA/2015/0895 for 59 houses on the field near Abbots Ride.

 

They are planning spaces for 347 cars on this site, which will put a huge burden on Waverley Lane and onto the queues at the level crossing. Therefore this development would affect anyone in Farnham who uses the railway station.

 

Please would you object to all three planning applications. The closing date is the 12th June.

 

Reasons for objection are similar for all three: -

 

***An unsustainable location for housing – too far away from the town (1.75km), too far away from any local shops (1.3km), too far away from the railway station (1.25km). It is in effect a village separate from the town – but with no facilities provided.

 

***Congestion at level crossing due to get worse. No solutions offered by developer to increase road capacity or solve the blockage of the crossing barrier. This means making already illegal air pollution levels even worse – not good for health, both for us and local schoolchildren.

 

***Unacceptable adverse impact on the character of the area – high density housing (34 dwellings per hectare); speed markings on the road, flashing speed signs near site; complete removal of 62m of hedging , cutting back of further 125 metres – this includes Ancient hedgerow, irreplaceable.

 

***The fields are rated ” high landscape value” and “high landscape sensitivity” by Waverley’s Landscape consultant. They provide the setting for the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Beauty right next to it; fields are bordered by Ancient Woodland and Veteran Trees (very rare in England and protected by national planning policy)

 

***Site considered “Not suitable ” in Farnham Neighbourhood Plan.

 

***This is the countryside!! – it is against Waverley’s own policy (Policy C2) to build in it – and National Planning Policy says the countryside must be recognised “for its intrinsic character and beauty” – this is a CORE PLANNING PRINCIPLE !

 

PLEASE GET YOUR COMMENTS IN STRAIGHTAWAY

 

Via the Waverley website:www.waverley.gov.uk – follow the planning prompts to reach the THREE reference numbers above, and fire away (copying and pasting your comments will be fine). Alternatively, write to The Planning Department, Waverley Borough Council, The Burys, Godalming GU7 1HR. Please remember to quote all three reference numbers.

 

Many thanks for all your support.

SOUTH FARNHAM RESIDENTS’ ASSOCIATION

 

 

 

Woolmead Proposal

Woolmead

Proposals for redevelopment of The Woolmead have now been made public. F&C REIT, who act as development agents, presented a public exhibition in The Woolmead on Thursday 2 April. The presentation can be viewed online at www.woolmead.co.uk

The scheme entails replacement of the existing 1960s block with a four storey development, comprising retail units at street level, with three additional floors comprising some 100 one, two and three bedroom apartments. An underground car park, accessed from The Woolmead, gives slightly over 100 parking spaces; it is assumed these will be for the benefit of the residents. Fronting onto East Street, the building projects no further than the existing building, and in places is somewhat further back, giving a wide pavement in front of the retail units.

Members are encouraged to visit the Woolmead website, and respond with comments online or by email to thewoolmead@gmail.com

Closing date for comments is 9 April.

Farnham Greenfield Sites

Badshot Lea2

GREENFIELD SITE APPLICATIONS 
FARNHAM, AUTUMN  2014
 

 

 

 

 

Existing  Aplications    
(all have been or will be objected to by The Society)

Lower Weybourne Lane, (Bewley site) 140
Crondall Lane  (Hopfields site) 120
Low Lane,  Badshot Lea 30
35 Frensham Vale, Lower Bourne 46
Baker Oates Stables, Gardeners Hill Road 43
Bindon House, south of Monkton Lane 61
Tices Field, Badshot Lea 71
Total 511

 

Badshot Lea

 

Applications Anticipated

Waverley Lane 190
Hale Road 220
Coxbridge Farm 200
Little Acres, Badshot Lea 100
Green Lane, Badshot Lea 80
Garden Style, Rowledge 70
Switch Back, Rowledge 10
Total 870

 

Plus others?                                                                                   Combined Totals       1381 plus

 

 

NB   If scenario 4 of the Local Plan Consultation is accepted we will need to find 700 new homes on greenfield sites in Farnham over the Plan period to 2031 (16 years at 44 homes per year, the current and anticipated numbers are over x 30 that required in any one year).

Jargon Busting

acronyms2

Planning-related acronyms
 

AGLV     Area of Great Landscape Value

AONB     Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (Natural England)

ASVI       Area of Strategic Visual Importance 

BLM       Building of Local Merit

CA          Conservation Area

CIL         Community Infrastructure Levy

EIA          Environmental Impact Assessment 

EIP          Examination In Public (of Local or Neighbourhood Plans)

FBPT       Farnham Building Preservation Trust

FCAMP   Farnham Conservation Area Management Plan

FHLAA    Farnham Housing Land Availability Assessment

FTA          Farnham Theatre Association

FTC          Farnham Town Council 

HA            Heritage Asset 

acronyms

HODS      Heritage Open Days

LNR         Local Nature Reserve

LPA          Local Planning Authority

NNR         National Nature Reserve

NPPF       National Planning Policy Framework (Government)

RA            Residents’  Associations

SAMM     Strategic Access Management Monitoring

SANG      Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace (for SPAs)

SHLAA    Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment

SHMA     Strategic Housing Market Assessment

SING       Site of Importance for Nature Conservation

SPA         Special Protection Area (European Directive for protecting wildlife habitats)

SSSI        Site of Special  Scientific Interest (Natural England)

TFS          The Farnham  Society

TPO         Tree Preservation Order

WBC         Waverley Borough Council

 

 

 

 

Retaining the character of a small historic town while it continues to grow

Sculpture Park

Interesting case study on Farnham
Urban Renaissance in the South East – Case Study 14

Size of Town: Medium (1991 Census population: 36,000)
Type of Town: Market
Type of Area: Western Arc
County: Surrey
Local Authority: Waverley Borough Council
Summary
Farnham is a good example of how a concerned local community, working with conservation minded local authorities, can retain and enhance its heritage and special character while developing and diversifying its centre, so as to keep it vital and viable. It boasts one of the longest established conservation societies – and one of the longest established building preservation trusts – in the country.
Main points illustrated by case study:
Vision
· century long emphasis on conserving and improving the built environment
· “conserving the best of the old, while welcoming the best of the new”
· recognition of the importance of human-scale buildings
Phased Strategy
· insistence on retention of town’s Georgian character
· insistence on quality and good urban design
· well-designed, high-density infill schemes
· specialty shopping
· good use of yards and passages

Maintenance of Momentum
· range of local mechanisms (conservation-minded District Council, lively Town Council, Town Initiative, established local Conservation Society, Building Preservation Trust).

Context
Farnham is a medieval market town which was substantially rebuilt in Georgian times, and to some extent again in the early 20th century although in neo-Georgian style. It is in a prosperous part of Surrey, close to the border with Hampshire. It is 10 miles west of Guildford and 3 miles from Aldershot (“the home of the British Army”). It is at a busy crossroads and has had a long and prosperous history. It is within commuting distance of London (45-50 minute journey time), although it is not on the main line.
Although Farnham has a castle, its main feature is its outstanding heritage of historic domestic buildings. Its “character depends very largely upon many pleasant small houses”, especially its fine Georgian houses “built in rich red brick”. “Castle Street is thought to be one of the finest Georgian Streets in England”. “The quality of the historic environment in the town centre is very high and Farnham has retained all the charm of a country market town”.
Farnham was the home of Cobbett, the radical writer, and still prides itself on independent-mindedness. It has a considerable student population because of the presence of the Surrey Institute of Art and Design, University College. But, although the town has a number of attractions, the real draw is the town centre itself.

Programmes and Outputs

a. Economic Strength
Farnham has a particularly wealthy population. However, like many medium-sized towns it has lost out in retailing terms to larger centres which can easily be reached by car, like Guildford, and to out-of-town shopping. While many of the old independent shops have disappeared and been replaced by the familiar multiples, the town has resisted much of the post-war retail development that has made so many town centres in Britain look and feel so charmless.
By retaining small shop premises, Farnham has managed to differentiate itself from its larger neighbours and now boasts a good range of specialist shops as well as many small restaurants and cafes. The vacancy level is only 10%. Furthermore, modern supermarkets, including a Sainsburys, have been fitted into the town centre and a Safeway helps to anchor the Lion and Lamb Yard scheme – one of a number of successful new developments that have managed to blend in well with the historic surroundings, as well as adding to the attractions of the town. In spite of its heritage, Farnham has not stood still.

b. Environmental Responsibility
Farnham has retained many of its old buildings and adapted them to new uses. It has been particularly diligent in retaining smaller buildings with merit, even when they are not listed. In part the quality of the town centre is due (as a Georgian Society report on the town in 1991 states) to local authorities that are committed to conservation and high design standards, and to “an active and responsible local amenity society, the Farnham Society, as well as a body which translates conservation aims into real action – the Farnham Trust. Such a fund of enthusiasm and knowledge is invaluable…” A good example of this was the pioneering conversion, from 1969 onwards, of an old brewery into a range of uses, including workshops and studios, known as Farnham Maltings.
The Farnham Society, one of the oldest conservation societies in the country, was founded in 1911. From the outset it “understood the importance of conserving the best of the old, while welcoming the best of the new”. The fact that there has been concern for Farnham’s buildings for such a long time is one reason why so many fine buildings still remain. The Farnham Trust, an active building preservation trust, was founded in 1968 to rescue and restore buildings in the town, and started by taking over a group of cottages that had been condemned by the Council. The Trust has packaged grants from a variety of sources, and used low cost loan finance from the Architectural Heritage Fund to tackle projects that were too complex or risky for private developers to contemplate. Uses have ranged from housing for homeless families to an art gallery. Its latest project involves the conservation and re-use of a working pottery on the edge of the town, leasing back one third of the floor space to the owner of the business.
Traffic in Farnham still remains a major problem, as the new Local Plan admits. Although the main A31 (Guildford to Winchester) road bypasses the centre, there are high volumes of through traffic on two other ‘A’ roads that pass through it. There is a one way system around the shopping area which carries an average of 12,000 vehicles per day, including nearly 900 HGVs. The roads and pavements are narrow in places, and pedestrians can feel intimidated. Heavy traffic detracts from the character of the streets, and at many times of the day parked vehicles making deliveries cause obstruction. Air pollution can be high.

A Farnham Movement Study has been carried out and this makes recommendations as to how improvements can be made, which the Council will seek to implement in conjunction with Surrey County Council. Where appropriate developers will be expected to contribute towards the costs of the improvements. However, although Farnham has been very successful in dealing with some aspects of the environment, it has not yet managed to tame the traffic. This not only makes the centre more difficult and less pleasant to use, but will also deter more people from wanting to live in the town centre.

c. Design Excellence
Farnham is remarkable for the state of preservation of its Georgian and Victorian buildings, but there have also been a number of major new developments in the town centre which, as the Georgian Society report says, “have been effected with care and consideration for their historic context”. A notable example is one of the old passageways running off West Street which now contains shops, cafes and a gallery and is a pleasant and popular place to stroll. There are also well designed, new, small-scale housing developments in the centre, although there is still vacant or under-used space particularly above commercial premises.
The need for high quality urban design is stressed in the Local Plan (which has a policy specifically devoted to it). In fact, there has been a long tradition of urban design in Farnham, especially in the early decades of the 20th century when local architect Harold Falkner, backed by the Chairman of the then Urban District Council, designed a series of neo-Georgian buildings, which “saved the centre of Farnham” and are now considered as a style in their own right. However, the Georgian Society also commented that there were the dangers of the erosion of detail, for example through poor quality pointing, and ‘bogus historicism’ in which “older is better but something that looks older is better still”. The 1990 Borough Plan called for “high design standards to ensure that the new development is sympathetic in siting, scale, style, materials and detailing”.

Renaissance Process
Like all historic towns, Farnham has gone through many phases and prospered through most of them – as the power base of the Bishops of Winchester; as one of the biggest wheat markets in the country; as a centre of the hop industry; as a commuter (and retirement) town; and now as a busy, historic place with “all the charm of a country market town”. In many ways it does not therefore need a renaissance. It mainly has to hold on to what it has. In the Local Plan the aim for the town is exactly the same as that for all the main towns in Waverley:
· to foster economic prosperity
· to conserve and enhance the environment and local distinctiveness of the centre
· to ensure good access by private or public transport.
Thus, there is no specific vision for Farnham and no specific strategy for reaching it.
However, in reality Farnham has been undergoing, or maintaining, a renaissance for a long time already. In particular, it has been consciously conserving and improving its built heritage and public realm for almost a century. It has managed to retain its essential character, particularly its fine human-scale buildings, while also managing to grow steadily in size (roughly doubling its population since the war).
In most ways, Farnham has managed to keep up with modern life without succumbing to the retailing and car-parking revolutions of the past few decades, which (with hindsight) rarely brought lasting benefits to medium-sized towns. Its small-scale buildings and its secluded places and passages are now seen as being just right for successful ‘Living Places’. Thus, because of past vision and strategy, Farnham is well placed to take further advantage of the new opportunities for attractive urban living. Furthermore, it has many of the right mechanisms in place for ensuring that this happens: a conservation-minded District Council, a lively Town Council, a Town Initiative, the Farnham Society, the Farnham Trust etc.
The main area in which vision and strategy are still required is in transport. More radical solutions are required to the traffic problems and to providing much better public transport, if Farnham is to reach its full potential as a town to live in (as well as use) and as a sustainable place. This is all the more urgent as the town is doing so well in other respects.

Lessons
Farnham appears to be doing well in spite of not having a specific renaissance strategy, and in spite of not having taken a holistic approach – or at least having fallen far short of taming its traffic. Perhaps it is the ‘exception that proves the rule’! However there would appear to be several lessons.
First, Farnham does have a vision and strategy, but it is nearly a hundred years old. Based on enlightened conservation (retaining the best of the old and resisting all but the best of the new) it has succeeded extremely well. There is no point in trying to invent a new vision if the old one is perfectly good (although it may be necessary to ensure that it is widely publicised and understood).
Secondly, renaissance is a very long-term process. Many other towns, which had at least some – but probably not all – of Farnham’s pleasant buildings and charm, did not protect what they had and, by allowing “bland, boring and totally unimaginative” development to replace it, they may now find that they have little or no ‘special character’ left on which to build. Special character can, of course, be derived from things other than the environment, but one lesson from Farnham is that it may take a very long time to develop. There is nothing fundamentally unique about what Farnham has done that could not be (or could not have been) replicated in many other towns in the South East – except that it has realised that quality matters and stuck to this principle for a long time.
Thirdly, although traffic stands out as a major problem, it is a problem which few towns in Britain
can claim to have fully solved. Farnham can probably get away with it, as it is not so very much worse than elsewhere. This, however, does not mean that a holistic approach to renaissance is not required. If standards improve elsewhere, Farnham will have to do much more to solve its traffic problems. Otherwise it will not fulfil its potential, no matter how fine its built environment is.
Published 21 December 2000