Planning

Planning Report May 2015

Police station site (742x800)

PLANNING COMMITTEE REPORT TO THE

EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE OF THE FARNHAM SOCIETY

11 MAY 2015

 

The Planning Committee has met on two occasions since the last Executive Committee with the following matters discussed and acted upon:-

 

Application List

 

We have objected to the following:-

 

White Beam, 79a Middle Bourne Lane, 2x 5 bed houses in place of one

59 Boundstone Road, 2 or 3 dwellings in place of one

 

We are preparing objections for the following:-

 

Brethren’s Meeting Room, West Street, 71 bed care home

David Lloyd Centre. Double tennis court dome covering

Bourne Club, Double tennis court dome covering

The Coach House, Leigh Cottage, additional house in narrow lane

We are also, in conjunction with SOFRA and The Town Council, planning to make a strong objection to the very large greenfield application at Compton Fields, Waverley Lane for 157 dwellings.

 

Bishops Steps Wall

A final design has been prepared by Mark Westcott and Mike Clements which should result in the removal of the recently built wall and the erection of a low wall and post and rail fencing to match the other side and with lighting provided by more street lights in Castle Street. We have been informed funding is in place and I thought this was a conclusion to the saga but I have just heard FCAMP and Farnham Castle Operations will be proposing an alternative design for consideration by the Church Commissioners.

 

Baker Oates Stables, Gardeners Hill Road.

The refused application for 43 dwellings is going to appeal.

 

Peter Bridgeman

7 May 2015

Planning Report April 2015

 

PLANNING COMMITTEE REPORT TO THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE OF THE FARNHAM SOCIETY

13 APRIL 2015

 

The Planning Committee has met on two occasions since the last Executive Committee meeting with the following matters discussed and acted upon.

 

Application List

We have objected to the following:-

13 Long Garden Walk, second application, rebuild too large

29 Aveley Lane, infill development

Baker Oates Stables, Gardeners Hill Road, second almost identical application as that refused

2 Woodcut Road, Wrecclesham, second applicationfor infilldevelopment.

1 and 3 Shortheath Road, 6 houses in the rear gardens of two houses, gross over development

 

We are considering the following:-

Bridge House, South Street, change of use from offices to 14 residential units

The Old Hop Kiln, Long Garden Walk, change of use from offices to 5 residential units

Harts Yard. West Street, newspaper offices and 13 residential units with parking

2-3 The Borough, retail space to 13 residential units (first and second floors above Poundland)

Please note the Crondall Lane (Hopfield site) greenfield application for 120 dwellings was granted Planning Permission with its SANG allocation at Church Crookham. This may seem ludicrous that dog walkers will drive past the Farnham Park SANG and past the SPA to the north of the town to reach Church Crookham, no one will do this but it does retain much of what’s left of the Farnham Park SANG – hopefully for brownfield sites

 

SPAs and SANGs

Members of the committee have had discussions with Carole Cockburn and others at Farnham TC on the very serious issue of the lack of SANGs in the Farnham area. Waverley BC are trying to find additional land but nothing has been found so far and this could scupper the Local Plan and the Neighbourhood Plan. A possible site in Runfold is being queried by Badshot lea residents as the land includes a Nature Reserve.

 

Resident Associations’ Meeting 14 April

Lists of current and likely greenfield applications totaling over 1800 dwellings plus lists of the larger brownfield applications, infill developments and change of use to residential will be displayed and discussed and Andy will describe housing and traffic figures and an update on the remaining SANG in Farnham.

 

Coxbridge Farm

At the invitation of the owner Keith Kenward, members of the committee, the Town Council and members of the North West Farnham Residents’ Association attended an open day at Coxbridge Farm on the 8 April. This is part of a potential greenfield application site for between 200 and 350 houses but with most of the 10 or so hectares owned by SCC. Any income from the sale of Coxbridge Farm land is intended to be spent of improving the Listed Buildings at the farm and to improve the facilities for the community.   There is not likely to be any application for some time. (NB each 50 houses require 1 hectare of SANG)

 

Woolmead

Members of the committee attended a public display of the proposed redevelopment of the Woolmead site on 2 April. The plans show the complete removal of the 1960’s carbuncle and in its place, retail units at street level and with 100 one, two and three bed apartments on the first, second and third floors. There will be some 120 basement car parking spaces. We are preparing comments on the architectural details but are in general agreement with the principle of the proposals We will contact the developers to ask what will happen to the forest of telecom masts and the replacement of the air conditioning paraphernalia which is so ugly at the moment. We will then await the final plans and an application later this year. Once approved we could see demolition start next year and the construction completed by 2018. This is one of the many brownfield sites that need the Farnham Park or an alternative SANG.

 

Bishops Steps Wall

The saga continues, the recently built wall has met universal condemnation and we can expect drastic changes. Following a meeting of all concerned on the 17 March a redesign of the wall was produced with mixed reaction. The FCAMP and WBC representatives were in favour but others like The Farnham Society, Farnham (Building Preservation) Trust and more importantly, the Castles Trustees and the Church Commissioners preferred the removal of the wall down to one or two bricks and a post and rail fence to match the other side. The Church Commissioners have appointed local architect Mark Westcott and following a meeting on the 9 April a compromise was suggested with a low rebuilt wall and a post and rail fence. There are significant cost implications.

 

Peter Bridgeman

 

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.

Planning Report March 2015

 PLANNING COMMITTEE REPORT TO THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE OF THE FARNHAM SOCIETY

9       MARCH 2015  

The Planning Committee has met on two occasions since the last Executive Committee meeting and the following matters have been discussed and acted upon.

1. Application List

 We have objected to the following:-

16 Old Church Lane

79 Burnt Hill Road

Brightwells Bat House

Land East of Bridleway, Crooksbury Road (see item 5)

We are considering the following:-

Bridge House,

South Street : change of use from offices to 14 residential units

The Old Hop Kiln. Long Garden Walk : change of use to 5 residential units

Baker Oates Stables, Gardeners Hill Road : revision of refused greenfield application for 43 dwellings

Harts Yard, West Street : mixed use development for newspaper offices and 13 residential units

Also please note:

Hopfield site, Crondall Lane : the decision on this 120 house greenfield application was deferred by a narrow majority due to a SANG issue.

2.   Local Plan

Waverley BC has announced a three month delay in producing the next consultation document that was expected in March. Delays in SCC providing vital transport data and by the Government not publishing up-to-date household projections are blamed, but once again we are left very vulnerable to developers – especially to applications on large greenfield sites.

3. Willmer House 

At the last meeting I reported on our concerns over the damage to the front façade of this Grade 1* listed building and the cover-up reply from Waverley BC. The Farnham Trust has written on similar lines and received the same pathetic response. We shall follow up our concerns when we see the state of the brickwork following completion of the work.

4. BishopsSteps wall 

You will recall, at the last meeting, I set out the details of this unfortunate construction and Councillor Carole Cockburn (FCAMP) has organised a meeting at the Castle on 17 March; I have been invited to attend. I shall contact Councillor Cockburn to inquire about the agenda for the meeting and who will be present.

5. Land to the East of Bridleway, Crooksbury Road

An application for a General Permitted Development Order to construct a very large agricultural barn on a 4.5 ha site has resulted in considerable concern by residents and members of the Moor Park and Crooksbury Road residents groups. I attended a meeting on 23 February and gave general guidance on grounds for objection and our letter of objection was copied to the residents. It was our view that the application was invalid as it was not permitted development. It appears the residents’ main concern is not the likely future application for change of use of the barn to residential but the risk of further applications for multiple permanent or temporary residential units. They are discussing the possibility of employing professional legal and/or planning consultants and setting up a fighting fund. Waverley have since told the applicants the application is invalid.

6. SANGS (Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace) 

The Planning Committee is seeking clarity on the whole issue of SANGS.   Cliff Watts, on behalf of Badshot Lea residents, is to write to Natural England who administer SANGS to inquire about the suitability of a part of Farnham Quarry as a SANG. In addition we are to request a meeting with the Neighbourhood Plan team at Farnham Town Council on the principles of allocating SANGS in and around Farnham.

7.

We have invited an officer from Farnham Town Council to attend our meetings in the belief it will strengthen the co-operation and dialogue between the Society and the Town Council.

Peter Bridgeman

Planning report February 2015

 

 

PLANNING COMMITTEE REPORT TO THE

EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE OF THE FARNHAM SOCIETY

9 FEBRUARY 2015

 

The Planning Committee has met on two occasions since the last Executive Committee meeting and the following matters were discussed and acted upon:-

 

  1. Application List

 

We have objected to the following:-

20 Longdown Road, Lower Bourne

8 Kiln Lane, Lower Bourne

13 Long Garden Walk

 

We made observations on:-

54/55 Southern Way, near the Station

95 Farnborough Road

 

We are considering the following:-

1 Elm Crescent, Heath End

Heronscourt, 39 Ford Lane (new application for one new house and extensions to Heroncourt)

16 Old Church Lane

 

The following largescale greenfield site applications have been refused by Waverley BC:-

35 Frensham Vale : 46 dwellings

Baker Oates, Gardeners Hill Road : 43 dwellings

Monkton Lane : 71 dwellings

 

Good news but any or all could go to appeal.

 

  1. Brightwells House/Redgrave Theatre

 With over 340 objections to this Listed Building Consent we were disappointed but not surprised that the Joint Planning Committee allowed this important application even with an alternative offer for using the theatre as a cinema. Crest Nicholson are again claiming that funds are now in place – but we have heard that before.

 

  1. Local Plan

We are anticipating a further Consultation from Waverley in March. This should refer to the number of new dwellings required per year and over the plan period. It should also state what will happen at Dunsfold Park.

 

  1. Willmer House

 Considerable concern has been expressed about the damage caused to the brick façade of this Grade 1* listed building by scaffolding, which in our view could so easily have been avoided. We have written to the Listed Building Officer asking for an explanation and are awaiting a reply.

 

  1. Bishop’s Steps Wall, Farnham Castle

 Concern over the design and construction of a new wall to the east side of the Bishop’s Steps that lead to the Grade 1 listed Castle, a scheduled Ancient Monument, was raised at the last Executive Committee meeting. This is still being investigated and, although we do not know all the facts, the following summary might help clarify the position :-

 The repairs to steps, the construction of the wall with ground level lighting, and the creation of a Garden for the Blind was planned as a Jubilee Project in 2013 with several authorities and organisations involved:-

Surrey CC (SCC) repaired the steps, as these were their responsibility, at the cost of some £17,800

Farnham Town Council (FTC) contributed £1000 as part of their Jubilee project

The Farnham Society (TFS) contributed £2000 to the project as a whole (£900 for planting)

The Farnham Building Preservation Trust (FBPT), offered financial support

The Castle Street Residents’ Association

Waverley BC (WBC) in the name of the Conservation Officer and the Planning Department

English Heritage (EH) and Farnham Castle Operations Ltd who manage the Castle

Farnham Conservation Area Management Plan (FCAMP) had some co-ordinating role

The main people involved appear to be:-

Councillor Carole Cockburn (FTC and FCAMP)

David Berry (TFS and FCAMP)

Sarah Wells (WBC)

David Graham (FBPT)

Michael Clements, initial drawings, (TFS and FBPT)

Peter Bridgeman, Garden for the Blind (TFS)

Edward Milan, Farnham Castle Operations Ltd

Ben Jervis, Asst Inspector of Ancient Monuments, English Heritage who gave the consent

Mark Westcott, who brought all of this to our attention

 

In February 2012 Sarah Wells of WBC produced a Project Justification Form giving details of those involved and the proposed work. She stated the officer responsible was herself, Sarah Wells, together with the FCAMP steering Committee.

In the summer of 2012, FCAMP asked Mike Clements to prepare some draft designs for the wall. Two alternative designs for the wall were shown on his drawing BS01. This also detailed the proposed planting for the Garden for the Blind prepared by Peter Bridgeman. The wall was to incorporate low-level lighting to illuminate the steps in the dark.

It is understood the drawing was sent to FCAMP and from them onto English Heritage at the Castle. It appears EH approved the planting and partially approved the wall. Mike Clements and Peter Bridgeman had no further input.

The steps were repaired by WBC in or around 2013 but work on the wall did not start until around 2014. It is now apparent that the work did require Scheduled Monument Consent (SMC) but this was not obtained until after the work had commenced.   (NB: SMC cannot be given retrospectively and work undertaken before any consent is a criminal offence) No planting has been carried out.

It is now obvious that the design and construction of the wall is unsatisfactory and the following questions need answering:-

 

  1. As the wall is not as designed by Mike Clements, who did design the wall and by whom was it approved?
  2. Who carried out the work, who supervised and approved the construction and who paid for it?
  3. Is the planting of The Garden for the Blind to be carried out?
  4. Why was SMC not obtained before work commenced?

Calls are being made for the demolition and re-design of the wall and FBPT in particular are stating they are withdrawing their offer of a grant unless the work is re-done to a proper standard.

The Planning Committee is seeking advice from TFS on the best way forward.

 

Peter Bridgeman

6 February 2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Planning report – January 2015

planning January 2015 ready

 

PLANNING  COMMITTEE  REPORT TO

THE EXECUTIVE  COMMITTEE  OF  THE  FARNHAM  SOCIETY

12 JANUARY  2015  

The Planning Committee has met on one occasion since the last Executive Committee meeting with the following matters discussed and acted upon:

1. Application List   We have objected to the following applications:

WA/2014/2113    St Georges Road, Badshot Lea, greenfield application for 71 dwellings WA/2104/2020    100 Lodge Hill Road, second application for additional dwelling WA/2014/225      45 Fairfield, observations on unsuitable location for residential use WA/2014/2122    13 Long Garden Walk, replacing 1930 bungalow with much larger house

We have written in support of:

WA/2014/2211   Alresford House, West Street,  change of use from offices to six dwellings but with some reservations.

We are considering objections/support for the following:

WA/2014/2237   8 Kiln Lane

WA/2014/2275   39 West Street

WA/2014/2287,  16/17 Castle Street

We are planning to have pre-application discussions on the following:

16 Old Park Lane, replacement dwelling Bridge House, South Street, change of use from offices to residential with some extensions and additions

2. Brightwell House   I reported to the last meeting on our objection to the application WA/2104/1926, Listed Building Consent to demolish the Redgrave Theatre and other works to Brightwell House.  English Heritage also objected and asked that the surrounds and setting of the House should also be retained.  We then heard of the partial demolition of a garden wall which WBC claims was dangerous and that the damage was caused by tree roots!  The bricks have been retained and hopefully the wall will be rebuilt.  We wait to see if Waverley actually go ahead with the rebuilding.

3. Local Plan Update   Worrying rumours that Waverley BC are considering Scenario 2 despite more than  80%  support for option 4.  Also that the projected housing figures used in the consultation document may well be inadequate.   The Farnham Herald front page article last Friday predicted over twice as many applications (1468) for pupils in Farnham secondary schools as there are places available (682). A shortfall of 786 and that’s without the additional dwellings suggested in the Local Plan consultation documents.

Peter Bridgeman 10 January 2015

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

 

Planning Committee December Report

Riverside Car Park Area

Riverside Car Park Area

REPORT  TO  THE EXECUTIVE COMMITTEE  OF  THE  FARNHAM  SOCIETY
8 DECEMBER 2014
 

The Planning Committee has met on two occasions since the last Executive Committee meeting with the following matters discussed and acted upon:

  1. Application List

We have objected to the following applications:

WA/2104/1603  Additional temporary car park at the Brightwells site, (since approved).

WA/2014/1926  Listed Building Consent to demolish the Redgrave Theatre and convert Brightwell House to two restaurants and other work.   Plus 320 other objections.

WA/2014/1939  Moor Park House, application to vary 106 agreement

WA/2014/1957  Bindon House, South of Monkton Lane, greenfield application for 61 dwellings

WA/2014/2028  Baker Oates Stables, Gardeners Hill Road, greenfield application for 43 dwellings

WA/2014/2140  Green End Cottage, Manley Bridge Road, second application for infill development of one additional house

WA/2014/2119  Farnham College, second application for 14 dwellngs

 

We are also considering objections for:

WA/2014/2090   Rear of 65 Badshot Lea Road, storage to residential

WA/2014/2113   Land west of St Georges Road, (Tices Field) greenfield application for 71 dwellings.

 

Please also note:  Heroncourt, 39 Ford Lane, two house infill, refused.

Cranleigh have two greenfield applications totalling over 500 homes.

Evitavonni to become Poundland and The Gorge, Woolmead to move to the Royal Deer.

We are planning to support an application for a modern replacement house at Heath Hill,    Upper Hale, which may even be a contender for an Amenity Award!

  1. Resident Associations’ Meeting  

Roger Steel, Andy Macleod and I presented papers and I can attach a current list of actual applications and anticipated applications on greenfield sites in Farnham and a list of Jargon Busting. I will separately forward the four papers prepared and presented by Andy Macleod.

  1. Local Plan Consultations Making Waves Winter 2014 edition 

We have written to WBC expressing our concerns over the  unbalanced reporting of the Consultation with no reference to the huge support in favour of maximising the use of the brownfield  Dunsfold Park site thereby reducing the need for developing on  greenfield sites.  Although Farnham and Cranleigh are to burden the greatest share of the housing there was no reference to either town. We questioned why the delay in publishing the facts until the next edition in the spring.

  1. Neighbourhood Plan 

Farnham Town Council have received over 500 (as at 4 December) responses to their questionnaire despite some problems with the on-line system.  If you have not completed your questionnaire please do so by 15 December.  They would like 1000 plus returns.

5,   Pre-Application Exhibitions and Consultations

There have been two pre-applications exhibits promoting residential developments. The first at Harts Yard, off  West Street, for 13 dwellings and the second at the Dairy site in Weydon Lane for 15 homes.  Both look worthy of our support.  It is important to reserve what is of left of the Farnham Park SANG for these suitable brownfield sites.  We have also been asked to look at a Pre-Application Design Statement for a new property at 16 Old Church Lane.  We welcome these pre-application discussions.

 

Peter Bridgeman

5 December 2014