Tag Archives: East Street Brightwells

SCC Consultations

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Community Recycling Centres:

Surrey County Council faces severe financial pressures and feel they have no choice but to look for savings. They are undertaking five consultations at the same time.

Consultations end on Friday 4 January 2019. Click here for link.

All the threatened Surrey County Council cuts are important.

Potential loss of Farnham’s Community Recycling Centre (CRC) in Guildford Road.

Surrey has put forward three options for the future of its 15 CRCs. Two of these would involve closing the Farnham CRC and would require Farnham residents to travel to Guildford, Camberley or Witley to recycle their household waste. Using these CRCs would involve round trips of around an hour at quieter times and much longer at busier times. This would be a major inconvenience and unnecessary expense to Farnham’s 40,000 plus residents and would result in very many Farnham residents opting out of using the Surrey CRCs completely and most likely an increase in fly-tipping.

The Farnham CRC is threatened with closure as it is categorised by Surrey as one of the six less used sites, which is supposedly close to alternative sites, which are said to generally offer a better customer experience. Farnham would appear to be the highest used of the six less used sites. This low use would seem to be very surprising as Farnham is the third largest town in Surrey based on the 2011 census figures and all the other CRCs apart from Guildford and Woking are based in smaller towns than Farnham. It is not really surprising as the Farnham CRC is very poor from an access, layout and customer experience point of view. Surrey and Suez management appear to struggle with this site, which is seriously understaffed when compared to the nearby, and well managed and run, Hampshire sites in Aldershot and Farnborough.

The Farnham CRC is now in a cycle of decline as it is thought that many Farnham residents are now using Hampshire sites, particularly since the Farnham site was closed for two days a week and its opening hours shortened. However, the supervisors of the nearby Hampshire sites have advised that in around a years’ time Hampshire intend to introduce checks to ensure that only Hampshire residents will have access to their CRCs.

It is unacceptable for Farnham to be left without a well-run CRC in the town or very close by. It may be that the current site cannot be realistically upgraded. If so it should be used for another purpose and a new site developed in a suitable alternative location nearby. A further option would be to come to an arrangement with Hampshire to upgrade the Aldershot site to serve both Aldershot and Farnham residents.

In any case we would strongly recommend Farnham residents to take part in the Surrey consultation, which runs till Friday 4 January 2019, and to insist that the Farnham CRC is not closed until a suitable alternative facility is provided.

Follow this link to the consultation

https://www.surreysays.co.uk/environment-and-infrastructure/crcs/

 Transforming Libraries and Cultural Services

Surrey County Council’s consultation on “Transforming Libraries and Cultural Services” does not contain any specific proposals to close any libraries. This is in contrast with the consultation on “Community Recycling Centres” which includes proposals, which would result in the Farnham Recycling Centre being closed.

The consultation makes it clear that the Council intends to make substantial savings in the costs of its libraries and library services. Surrey currently has 52 libraries based across the county and the Council currently spends £14 per person on libraries compared with the £9.89 average for similar county councils. Their intention is to reduce their expenditure on libraries to a level close to the national average spend of county councils. This would involve a cut in expenditure of up to 30%, which would most likely have to include some closures of the less well used libraries and service reductions elsewhere.

The consultation document does talk positively about how libraries are an integral part of community life and sit at the heart of lifelong learning. We completely agree and see the continuation of Farnham’s library service at its present excellent level as vitally important for the residents of the town.

We would we would strongly recommend Farnham’s residents, who wish to protect our library services, to take part in the Surrey consultation. This runs until 4 January 2019. Participation can be either online via the Surrey County Council website following this link or by returning a questionnaire available at Farnham Library.

History of changes to East Street development

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