THE FARNHAM SOCIETY
Farnham, on the western fringe of Surrey and bordering Hampshire, is a town of special qualities. The Castle and Park, the wide sweep of Castle Street, the old streets of the town centre with their lovely Georgian buildings, and the undisturbed river meadows, all combine to make Farnham a place deserving of special care.
This was recognised in 1972 when most of the town centre was designated an Outstanding Conservation Area. Its residential suburbs, rural surroundings and commercial zones all contribute to its character.
However, the beauty and charm of Farnham are threatened by the constant pressures of new development and traffic, which are placing an increasing strain on this historic town. It is up to the people who live in it to make sure that its particular qualities are maintained, while ensuring the best possible results where changes must take place. Very great care is needed to see that the best of the old is protected and that the right sort of development is encouraged for the future, including buildings, roads and open spaces.
The Farnham Society is one of the largest and oldest conservation and amenity societies in the country. The original ‘Old Farnham Society’ was formed in 1911 by Charles E. Borelli and Harold Falkner. These two founder members had a profound influence on the town, Borelli as Chairman of the Farnham Urban District Council for many years, and Falkner as an architect. Other founder members included the Bishop of Winchester, W.H. Allen – the Head of the Art School, and George Sturt, who as George Bourne was the author of a number of books about the social history of Farnham.
Despite the intervention of more than a hundred years the Society continues to pursue the objectives of our founders to maintain Farnham as a pleasant place to live and visit.
Principal areas of concern at present are
- The Waverley Borough Council Local Plan, which could more than double the traditional rate of housing development, and thus population and car ownership growth , in Farnham.
- Supporting Farnham Town Council in developing the Farnham Neighbourhood Plan.
- The additional pressures that will be brought to bear on the town’s infrastructure and services. These are already stretched in several key areas including the road system, school places provision and the outdated water and sewerage system.
WHAT THE SOCIETY DOES
The Society has a very active Executive Committee, which meets monthly at South Farnham School, and four sub-committees.
- The Planning Committee meets regularly at the Town Hall to review the hundreds of planning applications for developments in Farnham that are made each year. It submits comment on significant applications where appropriate which may be in support, as observations or objections. The Committee also represents the Society in responding to public consultations and attending public inquiries and planning appeals.
- The Traffic Committee comments on traffic related proposals such as the scheme to pedestrianise part of the town centre and makes proposals on behalf of the Society to help improve traffic conditions in the town,
- The Social Committee organises day visits and longer tours to places of interest, evening talks and coffee mornings.
- The Heritage Open Days (HODS) Team plans and runs the annual HODS event each September.
SIGNIFICANT EVENTS IN THE SOCIETY’S HISTORY
The old Farnham Society was established
Saving The Ranger’s House in Farnham Park
Harold Falkner dies. His house at 24 West Street was bequeathed to the Society who were unable to accept as it was not financially viable
Wrecclesham Coal Depot plans opposed
Public meeting to save the Maltings
Formation of the A31 Committee to oppose the Surrey County Council flyover scheme for Hickley’s Corner.
‘Tree Year’ – The Society planted trees on the Shepherd and Flock roundabout and recorded 1000 trees in the Farnham Conservation Area.
The Society’s first Newsletter produced. Demise of old Farnham Urban District Council.
Photographic record of the town prepared and presented to The Museum of Farnham to mark the Queen’s Silver Jubilee.
The Verney Prize Competition for local schoolchildren started.
Lion and Lamb Yard and The Hart plans commented on.
First Farnham Society Amenity Awards presented.
£1000 gift to the Maltings.
Farnham Town Council formed. Six members of the Society elected.
Sponsored photographic record of buildings and shop fronts in the Conservation Area by students from West Surrey College of Art & Design (now UCA). Preparation of Guidelines on the design of shop fronts in the Conservation Area. Schemes prepared for the enhancement of Castle Street and Long Garden Walk.
Wrecclesham Aggregates depot plans opposed.
The Society’s Traffic Management Group produced a report on the Study of Through Traffic and the Farnham Town Centre from which came the traffic lights at the Shepherd and Flock roundabout
Donation of £4000 to the TRASH campaign (Tipping Rubbish: A Serious Hazard)
The Society was represented at the Barratts Homes appeal against the refusal of their application for permission to develop land at St James’s Avenue. The appeal was dismissed.
The Farnham Society together with the Godalming Trust and the Haslemere Society, jointly managed and part-funded the project to publish West Surrey Architecture 1840-2000 by Christopher Budgen
The Farnham Society and the Farnham Building Preservation Trust jointly submitted a planning application for the restoration of Brightwell House. The application was granted, thus at the same time protecting the Grade II building from being de-listed.
An album containing a photographic record of Farnham was prepared and presented to The Museum of Farnham to mark the Queen’s Golden Jubilee.
The Society assisted Waverley Borough Council in their Conservation Area Appraisal of Farnham’s town centre by researching and producing the section ‘Character of Farnham’. In addition, our proposal was accepted to extend the area along East Street up to No.13.
The Society participated in the national ‘Clone Town Britain’ campaign and carried out a survey of 50 shops in Farnham’s ‘High Street’ to establish the ratio of chain shops to independent retailers. With 72% chain dominance, Farnham was a middle-ranking ‘clone town’ as borne out by a table published in The Times.
In view of the difficulties rail passengers were experiencing parking at Farnham Station, the Society carried out a factual survey of the take-up of parking spaces on two different weeks. It revealed that the car park was full on Wednesdays and Thursdays by 9.30 am and on Tuesdays by 10.00 am.
The Farnham Society hosted the one-day annual Southern Comfort event at the Maltings, Farnham. Thirteen Civic Societies from the South of England attended.
A questionnaire on the East Street development, circulated to all households, showed that while the people of Farnham wanted improvements in the East Street area, they were opposed to the Crest Nicholson scheme.
Farnham Theatre Association was formed to campaign for re-establishment of a working theatre in Farnham
60th anniversary of the ‘refounding’ of The Farnham Society in 1947, celebrated with a brochure
An initiative to purchase Bishops Meadow and prevent its acquisition for development was launched at a public meeting held in St Andrew’s Church
A public meeting was held on the proposal for a composting and recycling facility at Runfold
Centenary of the ‘original’ Farnham Society, founded in 1911, marked with a celebration tea at Waverley Abbey House and a Centenary Celebration in the Great Hall of Farnham Castle
A public debate on the East Street development was held at Farnham Maltings.
A legal submission was made to the Public Inquiry into the Compulsory Purchase Order of the Marlborough Head, funded through public appeal.
Farnham Society members were advised on the Local Plan and Neighbourhood Plan consultations
Objections were raised to large developments submitted in the absence of a local plan - notably, a proposal for 157 new homes in Waverley Lane.