How the Society has responded to the East Street Development plans over the years
In March 2003 the Farnham Society Chairman, Gordon Harris, wrote to all Waverley Councillors to express the Society’s great concern in regard to the East Street December 2003 Masterplan. It appeared that the Council were about to give their approval to a scheme without including any changes which would address the issues of overdevelopment about which public concern was expressed. While supporting the regeneration of the area, we felt that the Council should have negotiated with another developer who would have concentrated on a smaller area than the present site. Therefore, before committing us to the December 2003 Masterplan we urged that the Council should give urgent consideration to reducing the scale and massing, making adequate provision for open space, not encroaching on the green space alongside the River Wey and, most importantly, a major reduction in the number of dwelling units. Critical examination and revision of the East Street Masterplan was needed before binding decisions were taken.
East Street Area of Opportunity, Farnham
In November 2005, after the the Society had participated in a series of meetings of the Development Control Consultative Forum on East Street Area redevelopment, held by Waverley Borough Council it expressed its views on the gross overdevelopment, oversized multi-screen cinema, loss of green space and lack of attention to the traffic situation in a letter addressed to the Chairman.
In December 2005 the Council held meetings to consider what contractual action to take in view of the Developer’s delay in acquiring the necessary sites and submitting its final schemes. Prior to these important meetings the Farnham Society expressed its concern with the proposals in the current Master Plan, and said that any plans could not be properly assessed if the Developer was allowed to proceed by preparing piecemeal proposals.
On 19 December, Council passed the following Resolution:
(a) the Council’s commitment to the East Street scheme be reaffirmed
(b) Council Policy be implemented to undertake Compulsory Purchase Orders to complete the land assembly, with appropriate safeguards for Waverley
(c) Crest Nicholson Sainsbury (CNS) be requested to submit a planning application in line with the contract and Development Brief no later that 1 May 2006
(d) Officers be authorised to enter into time-limited discussions with CNS, with a view to exploring methods of speeding up implementation of the scheme, against the clear background that it is Council policy to have the entire scheme implemented and that, therefore, the concept of a two-phase contractual implementation is not acceptable
(e) Officers give an interim report to Members within eight weeks [i.e. by no later than 13 February] and
(f) Officers be authorised to hold discussions ending after twelve weeks [i.e. by 13 March] and then to report back with options for members to consider concerning:
(i) progressing the contract
(ii) whether to extend the long-stop date; and
(iii) the Compulsory Purchase Process
In August 2006 the Farnham Society Chairman, Max Lyons, sent the following letter to all Waverley Councillors. It was subsequently published in the Farnham Herald in an article by Corina Larby on 18 August.
EAST STREET REDEVELOPMENT
I am writing as Chairman of the Farnham Society, which was established in 1911, Chairman of the Castle Street Residents Association and Member of United Voice of Farnham. United Voice of Farnham, to explain, is a group of 27 Farnham Associations including the Chamber of Commerce, the Visitors Council, the Farnham Building Preservation Trust and the Farnham Society.
We are very upset that Waverley Councillors keep saying “the people of Farnham want this development”. This is totally untrue. The people of Farnham as represented above want a development in the East Street area but not the development seen so far in the East Street/Crest Masterplan supported by Waverley. It is too large and does not really include East Street.
We want a development in scale with Farnham. The Woolmead (shops, offices and houses) is approximately 100,000 sq ft. The Lion and Lamb Yard (supermarket, shops and offices) is approximately 100,000 sq ft. The East Street/Crest Masterplan, (shops, cinema, flats, and underground car park) is approximately 550,000 sq ft (300,000 sq ft of flats, 100,000 sq ft of shops, restaurants and cinema and 150,000 sq ft of underground car park. The development should in our view be 200,000 sq ft absolute maximum (excluding Woolmead). That is 100,000 sq ft residential (approximately 100 flats) plus 100,000 sq ft of shops and restaurants the same size as Lion and Lamb or Woolmead.
We want a development that really includes regeneration of East Street. The present Crest Masterplan is a large or major scheme that leaves every single building in East Street standing, except the Marlborough Head, which is probably one of the better buildings. A major redevelopment of East Street that leaves Woolmead standing is unwanted.
We want a development that includes the existing Bowling Green a theatre and a small cinema (two or three screens) plus shops and restaurants.
- Car Parking
We are aware that Farnham needs car parking but of the right scale. The present Crest Masterplan has 700 cars underground (300 for flats and 400 for the rest of the scheme). However this plus additional riverside parking will still leave Farnham with 118 less than present. To put this in context the Waitrose (Lower Hart) car park is approximately 200 spaces.
- Farnham Park
We object strongly to Farnham Park being used by Waverley Council as a way of the Council supporting the Crest Masterplan to satisfy Government concerns.
- Development Title
We request that the present Crest Masterplan and forthcoming Crest application are titled “Land South of East Street” or “Brightwell Redevelopment”, as the present title East Street Regeneration is misleading to the public.
We are relaxed about a small development south of East Street as mentioned above because there will be enough demand and capacity left to develop Woolmead later.
We are aware that some people are wary of opposing the present plan in public for fear of losing the investment into Farnham. This is absolutely wrong. There is a list of developers who would love to develop in this beautiful and prosperous town.
We intend fighting the wrong scheme in this area through every letter box in Farnham and with Street meetings at the right time.
We are perfectly happy with Crest developing the area but it must be the right scheme for Farnham.
The present Crest Masterplan should have the residential accommodation reduced from approximately 300 flats to a maximum of 100 flats (repeating 300 flats is approximately 300,000 sq ft which is three times the size of the total buildings at Woolmead). Keep the bowling green, include a cinema and a theatre and let the people of Farnham know clearly for what financial sum you are selling our theatre, our tennis courts, our car parks, our community buildings, and our gardens.
Farnham Society’s Fighting Fund
Subsequent to the Farnham Society Chairman’s letter, issued to every Waverley councillor with a copy to the Farnham Herald, detailing his reasons why the proposed Sainsbury/Crest Nicholson development plans for East Street are totally wrong for Farnham, there was a wave of support for his and the Society’s views.
Donations and pledges have been received to be put towards a ‘fighting fund’ to enable the Farnham Society to comprehensively oppose the current plans at every stage and to challenge Waverley Borough Council by every legal means. Led by one Society member who gave a ‘four figure sum’ to start the fund, all donations were ring-fenced and used solely for the campaign.
Like most people in Farnham, the Society is totally supportive of a regeneration scheme that will improve this area of Farnham that the council have neglected for so long. What no one ever contemplated was the tall, ultra modern, high density development that is planned with the sole objective of generating money and which would be so out of place in this historic town.
If the residents of Waverley, and Farnham in particular, wish to join with the Society and object to the proposed scheme or donate to the fighting fund (the plans are in the Locality Office) then they should contact the Farnham Society.
Read the Guardian report Feb.28 2007 on Farnham and the East Street Development Plan:http://society.guardian.co.uk/societyguardian/story/0,,2022413,00.html
See the BBC report on Farnham and the East Street Plan:http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/today/reports/misc/clone_towns_20070309.shtml
Want to know what East Street demolition and excavations will be like? Read what happened in Bury St Edmunds delightful city: Bury St Edmunds Redevelopment
The Farnham Society expresses its hopes for the forthcoming proposals
The following letter was published in the Farnham Herald on 29 September 2006:
East Street cannot be compared with Lion and Lamb Yard
Sir, – I refer to the article on the first page of last week’s Farnham Herald. “Public will love East Street say developers.”
The “public” represented by United Voice of Farnham hate the East Street application. The United Voice of Farnham speaks for more than 25 organisations including the following:
Farnham Building Preservation Trust
Farnham Independent Retailers
Brightwell Bowls Club
Eight residents associations
The Chamber of Commerce (whose concern is the effect on trade throughout the construction period and the long-term effect of traffic and parking problems)
East Street Action.
The town council cannot be a member but has voiced the same criticism of East Street, very well expressed in their resolution to Waverley Borough Council which still stands.
Crest Nicholson has declared “residents will love it just as much as they love the Lion and Lamb Yard”
As chairman of the Farnham Society and architect of the Lion and Lamb, I would like the residents of Farnham to understand the comparison between the East Street proposals and the Lion and Lamb which demonstrates why we so strongly object to the East Street application.
Lion and Lamb is approximately l00,000 sq ft of building. East Street is approximately 750,000 sq ft of building (including underground car parking).
Lion and Lamb is 95 per cent two storey, East Street is more than 60 per cent four storey.
Lion and Lamb is contextual or historic in design. East Street is modernistic in design.
For these reasons, and particularly the size and height, for Crest to say “residents will love East Street as much as Lion and Lamb”, is assuming a very low opinion of Farnham residents’ tastes, intelligence and love of their town.
The next hurdle the developers have to jump is to persuade Waverley to extend the long-stop date of December 31, 2006.
Written into the contract for the East Street development is a clause that allows either party to walk away if certain conditions have not been met by December 31, 2006. The purposes of this clause is to avoid the agreement dragging on for years and years. Two of the conditions of the long-stop clause are that Crest Nicholson needs to have assembled all the land (which they haven’t) and to have obtained satisfactory planning permission, building regulation and bye-laws approval, which is months and months away.
The United Voice of Farnham, which includes the Farnham Society, begs Waverley Council not to extend the contract. The scheme is far too large and does nothing for East Street.
If any residents support this plea please write expressing your support to me at The Grange, Old Park Lane, Farnham, GU9 8QP.
Maximillian Lyons, Cricket Green, Hartley Wintney