East Street/Brightwells

Brightwells: What are we getting ?

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Our planning committee chairman, David Howell, reviews the state of the Brightwells development in September 2020. His review has been published in the 10 September edition of the Farnham Herald and emailed to members in two parts over the weekends of 18/19 and 25/26 of September including more images than had been included in the Herald publication.

September 2020

I’ve been hearing from various quarters that Farnham residents have expressed surprise and bewilderment at the increasing height and dominance of the Brightwells buildings adjoining public spaces, notably on Dogflud Way, East Street and above the Sainsbury’s South Street car park. I thought I would give you a summary of what the development brings.

The Society’s position

The Farnham Society opposed the proposals from inception. We were appalled at the size and scale of the scheme and objected strongly every time the terms of the Crest contract were altered in their favour, for example the decision not to retain the Gostrey Centre on site. But the old Waverley administration continued regardless.

The residents expressed their thoughts about the use of the site through a survey in the Farnham Herald before the Development Brief was prepared in 2000, twenty years ago, but the Brief completely ignored their opinions. In 2016 the Society were involved in launching the campaign to seek a Judicial Review, questioning the viability of the scheme and predicting the lack of take-up of retail space, given current trends in the high street.

Support from both the membership and residents was magnificent and more sympathetic alternatives to the scheme were suggested, all to no avail. The Farnham Theatre Association fought and lost their battle to save the Redgrave Theatre.

But we are where we are, we still dislike the development intensely but want some good to come out of it for the people of Farnham.

Current status

You may not need reminding that Surrey County Council has invested in excess of £50 million in this development. We are paying for it. The current Waverley administration have reported that the borough council will probably never make any money out of it. They have a chance if all the 25 retail units are let as soon as they are available and remain let. To date the only interested parties are M&S Simply Food, Reel Cinemas, Ask Italian and Seasalt. The Society predicted this years ago. The Crest Nicholson brochure boasts 8 restaurants. Are they sustainable in the current climate ?

I haven’t analysed the area of accommodation still available in the development, but my guess is 75% which equates to 72,000 square feet. To put that into perspective, the Argos building has a total area of 7,500 square feet, Water Lane Sainsbury’s 80,000 square feet.

So, where does one start ? The largest building I think, which is D8 and then continue anti-clockwise around the site looking at the buildings visible from the road or public access space.

Brightwells CN Plan 03 09 20

D8, Cinema and car park

This is the largest building within the development and will be visible to anyone, anywhere, in the unfortunate position of having a view of the development. Currently the greatest impact is from Dogflud Way. The building dominates the view for those approaching Farnham town centre from the east. The southern end of the east elevation, illustrated below, is finished with a green ‘living wall’ – an anachronism you may well think.

D8 East Elevation 03 09 20 Green Wall TFS

The building has a footprint larger than the sports centre and about 60% of Sainsbury’s Water Lane. Allowing for its four full floors, together with the lower ground floor car park, the building has approximately three times Sainsbury’s floor space. The capacity of the car park is recorded as 426 over ten levels. Access and egress from the car park is via a ramp from Dogflud Way. I saw overlay drawings several years ago and these showed the edge of the ramp within ten feet of the corner of the sports centre – the length of a classic mini.

D8 East Elevation photo TFS

Photo illustrating progress at the beginning of September

There is a six screen cinema in the building with a current provision of approximately 750 seats although I foresee the possibility of the actual number reducing to accommodate the luxury seats that Reel, the cinema operator, may decide to install. The building also houses no fewer than four retail units or shops most with additional space on the first floor. Ask Italian are currently taking unit RU5 which has first floor space. There are a total of 33 flats within the building.

I have to say that I feel that the west elevation overlooking Brightwell House and Brightwell Gardens is a mess, see below. That’s my opinion. Some may disagree with me. Time will tell.

D8 west elevation photo TFS

D15, Affordable Housing

This is a three storey apartment block housing 15 flats, mainly with 2 bedroom. The flats have been acquired by Metropolitan Thames Valley Housing (MTVH) as affordable housing. The building extends right up to the boundary and dominates the car park serving Chestnuts, East Gate and the Clock House. There is no amenity space to the flats. In my opinion it turns what was a reasonably pleasant, open, car park area into a fish bowl.

D15 west elevation TFS

Elevation drawing and photo illustrating progress at the beginning of September

D6, retail shops and flats

The north elevation of this building sits facing East Street, adjacent to the entrance to the development and opposite the former Marlborough Head pub. Built over four floors it houses 11 retail units on the ground floor some of which have space on the first floor together with 42 flats with an even split between 1 and 2 bedrooms. There is no amenity space. Below a photograph taken earlier in September. The roof section of the building still has to be added so the building will increase in height a further storey. It already dominates the skyline, dwarfing the Marlborough Head.

D6 and The Marlborough Head pub 2

D14 and D1, retail shops and flats

D14 includes the Marlborough Head pub and extends back to connect to D1 forming an L shape arrangement which in turn faces Cambridge Place opposite Funkey Monkey Soft Play. D14 houses four retail units on the ground floor all with potential access to first floor space. Crest’s press releases show Seasalt having taken unit 12, the one adjoining the Marlborough Head. This stretch of the development is two storey and, I have to admit, is in keeping with the retained pub structure in height.

D1 D6 East Street Elevation drawing TFS

Elevation drawing of D1 and D16 on East Street

D1 is three storeys in its entirety with the ground floor providing three shop units. The first and second floors house a total of 16 flats, with an equal split between one and two bedrooms, the latter on the south side having views over the new ‘town square’. The wall finishes are a real mish-mash, brickwork, painted render, slate hanging and timber boarding. Sorry, but it isn’t pretty, see below.

D1 South Elevation TFS

D21, retail units

This two storey building has shop windows on all unattached elevations at ground floor level being fully glazed on the east side overlooking the ‘town square’. The rear faces Cambridge Place. Planning application drawings indicate a square vented chimney feature on the zinc pitched roof. Probably one of the more attractive buildings on the development in my opinion although probably better suited as a pavilion or sea front located building. Five retail units are allocated to it.

D20, M&S and flats

M&S Simply Food will occupy the whole of the ground floor of this building. There is a smaller, so called, mezzanine area which sits above part of the M&S space to the south. From recollection this was the space that the Gostrey Centre was going to occupy or was included in their space. The north, east and south sides of the buildings are three or four storeys high around a residents’ shared amenity space at first floor floor level which looks west overlooking the Sainsbury’s upper car park deck, see below.

D20 west elevation cropped

The building houses a total of 42 flats, a majority two bedroomed but with a couple of three bedroomed dwellings which extend up to the third floor. The four storey parts of the west elevation totally dominate the skyline when you are in the car park. The building dwarfs the neighbouring Victoria Gardens, see below, the overlooking windows destroying its former feeling of calm and privacy.

D20 south elevation from Victoria Garden TFS

The west elevation will have a couple of brick finished chimneys trying to add a sense of domestic scale. The planning application plan drawing shows four lovely mature trees in the amenity space, which are in fact not shown on the landscaped west elevation.

D20 east elevation, tented B House

Photo illustrating progress of the east elevation from the temporary bridge in September

D4B and D4C

As far as I can see these two buildings aren’t visible above the hoardings yet. Both are designated as purely residential. D4B houses a total of 39 flats, 14 one bedroom, 18 two bedroom and 7 three bedroom. The four storey building will tower above the 40 Degreez building, and the sports centre glazed west elevation which provides light to the swimming pool. Several of the upper floor east facing flats have balconies, further compromising the youth club, see drawing elevation below. The building is finished with a mix of brickwork and painted render. Managing the building maintenance will be an interesting exercise.

D4B East elevation TFS

D4C is similarly a four storey building housing 34 flats, 5 one bedroom, 19 two bedroom and 10 three bedroom. The main feature of the west facing elevation, see below, is a simplified Jacobean Dutch style gable. I ask myself, what were they thinking ?

D4C west elevation

D4A

The last but one of the buildings, this sits away from the existing perimeter of the site, as yet not visible from outside the site. Four storey’s high, housing one restaurant space and 16 flats over the four floors including two flats on the ground floor. Am I alone in thinking that the west elevation of the building is totally out of place, with pink painted render, elevation drawing below, probably more at home in Italy. The building boasts another square vented chimney feature.

D4A west elevation 03 09 20

Brightwell House, designated building number D12

A Grade II listed building which the former Waverley administration tried to demolish. Smallest building on the site although it is being extended with an appalling two storey extension to the north side, see east elevation below. The building is currently ‘tented’. I am told it is being re-rendered and refurbished to the highest of standards. We will see. It will be dwarfed by the buildings that surround it. I recall reading somewhere that it was seen as a centrepiece. In my experience you don’t surround your most treasured article with vast over-dominant other things.

D12 Brightwell House east elevation 03 09 20

The Farnham Society

We have a membership in excess of 650 – more than many other civic societies throughout the country. Our aim is to protect our town’s heritage while taking an active part in shaping its future. The scale of our membership is important for the impact it has on the different authorities and organisations we speak to, and it does make a difference. Thank you for being one of those members if you are. If not, why not join us. Explore our website.

If you would like to do more than just be a member, we are looking for support in one or two areas. If you think you may be able to help, please email 1memsec.fsoc@gmail.com or phone our Chairman, Alan Gavaghan on 01252 724714

David Howell

Chair of the Planning Committee

 

Craft space at Brightwells

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Craft space at Brightwells, What do you think ?

As you will remember we challenged the development, campaigned and raised tens of thousands of pounds, went to the High Court but lost because the judge said that the appellants, Councillors and long-term residents of Farnham didn’t have ‘standing’. The executive and planning committee still dislike the development intensely but want it to succeed for the good of Farnham.

Residents take the Initiative

So, what would succeed ? The bricks and mortar retail sector is crashing. The shopping mall owner Intu going into administration is another example. Farnham has to take the initiative. At the moment Surrey and Crest don’t appear to be doing so, although they should be. They should be very worried, but hey, it’s not their money, it’s ours that is at risk.

During the course of the last five weeks there have been several letters to the Editor of the Herald suggesting uses for the Brightwells retail space – one arguably surreal, nevertheless portraying possible scenarios.

I have been talking to a local lecturer in retailing and to other local people about the possibilities. Here are some of the thoughts that resulted.

World Craft City

We must take full advantage of any opportunities that arise from our World Craft City status, newly awarded by the World Craft Council. A single shopping unit (or adjoining units combined) could be used to form a craft orientated space to display and sell locally made art of all forms. West Kilbride, Craft Town Scotland, have their Barony Centre. We could do the same within Brightwells.

Alternatives are a much needed space for community use or even a privately operated business hub or two. The UCA and the New Ashgate Gallery could be encouraged to further coordinate with the town and set up pop up demonstration and sales spaces, similar to that in South Street, Christmas 2018. These could also promote short courses in craft skills which there appears to be an opportunity for.

Space could be used to explore and promote shared talent and experiences, overlapping with the Maltings’ programme. The New Ashgate Galley could consider creating something on the west side of town that complements what they have in Lower Church Lane.

Commercially

Thinking commercially, space could be used for creating experiences coupled with sales opportunities. For example an ironmongery store with tradesmen providing sessions demonstrating basic DIY skills, training in sustainable living, upcycling and selling sustainable products, or, as a council officer suggested, bicycle repairs and maintenance classes also selling bicycle parts. There could be opportunities for Mother and Baby now that Mothercare are no more: classes, sales of premium products.

Then, how about combining adjacent spaces to form a membership based facility? A good model is offered by the Soho House group, who have sites in London and elsewhere.

Companies will be operating in new ways now that working from home has been seen as a way forward. A facility in Brightwells could offer membership in tiered levels, providing meeting spaces, reducing the need for companies to rent offices of their own. Spaces of different sizes could be offered, with basic but good quality catering, maybe open to non-members. This would create a hub for networking, effectively a new business platform.

Want to be there

The ethos of the development must make residents and visitors want to be there, to experience and to enjoy. The atmosphere of each unit should be warm and welcoming, not sterile.

Where spaces are used in multiple occupation, the occupants must be required to follow guidance on presentation both inside and outside the units. Everything must be ‘quality’ and reflect ‘excellence’. Something that simply ‘will do’ will not be acceptable.

What do you think ? If Crest or Surrey won’t engage with us residents, we will have to take it to them. Please let us know.

 

The future of our high streets

Save our High Street

The Future of our high streets

At The Haslemere Society’s AGM in November 2019, PROFESSOR DAVID EVANS, a Trustee and former Chairman of Civic Voice, shared his perspectives on the challenges and opportunities for High Streets. This is an abridged version of his address to members of The Haslemere Society.

I am a trustee of Civic Voice, which is the umbrella organisation for civic societies like yours across the country. I said like yours, but all civic societies are very different. They all share the same common theme, which is that they care about the place they live in and want to make it better, but they vary enormously in size, in wealth and in the things that they do.

One of the things that has become a particularly concern in recent years has been the issue of high streets and what is happening in them. People will blame the council, while ordering books from Amazon. I should make it clear that in my view high streets have been changing ever since the industrial revolution. Before that you literally had butchers, bakers, cobblers who plied their trade in a workshop and then sold from the workshop in a high street.

After the industrial revolution you had a change, with people coming in to sell goods that others had produced, and then you had specialist retailers arriving and department stores opening up. Gradually, they expanded and chain stores started taking over high streets. So the fact that high streets are changing is nothing new, but I do think that high streets have changed enormously over the past 40 years and even more over the past 20 years. A lot of people feel a great deal of nostalgia for shops like butchers, and fishmongers.

Retail moves out of town

Then there has been the growth in out-of-town retailing. When I moved to Chester there were shops like Halfords, Currys and an electricity board and gas board shop in the main street, but they all moved out of town to places where the parking was easier. Change in the high street is nothing new and has always gone on, but something more fundamental does seem to be happening now than what has gone before. Those changes were all about expansion, and maybe these now are about decline.

Some big names have gone completely, names like Karen Millen (now online only) Toys R’ Us, House of Fraser is not what it was and Debenhams is in deep trouble. So lots of big name stores are closing and we tend to have a sense of doom and gloom about this, but you do have to remember that other things are opening on our high streets such as coffee bars and gyms. Aldi and Lidl are thriving and expanding; Primark is growing too and has no online presence at all. Then there are nail bars and tattoo parlours,and vape stores, so things are happening and they are changing.

Online retailing arrives

This all arguably started in 1984 when a pensioner from Gateshead made the first ever online purchase, using the former Ceefax service! It has gone on from there and you can argue that it is the big problem for our high streets at the moment. In 2007 2.5% of retailing was online, but by 2019 it was 20%, so a huge proportion of goods not being sold on the high street. Everything suggests that this trend is going to continue. The Office of National Statistics says that this trend will continue, and the proportion of retailing that is online will increase to 40% of total spending.

In 1950 we had nearly 60,000 stores nationwide, now we are down to just over 30,000, so just over half the number in 1950 and by 2022 that figure is forecast to have fallen below 30,000. But there are big regional differences – London and the South East have seen far fewer store closures that the rest of the country, including my patch in the North-West, which is one of the highest.

Retailing has lost over 100,000 jobs in the past few years and the British Retail Consortium suggests that there could well be nearly 1m fewer jobs in retail over the next decade. That is not just store closures, but also automation like self-service tills, that will reduce the need for retail workers. We are also not going to high streets as much as we did. There is a decline in footfall, so if people are not coming past your door, they are not going to come into your shop. That is another area for concern.

Government concern

Government has realised that this is becoming a major issue and earlier in 2019 there was a House of Commons select committee report which looked at what is going to happen in high streets and town centres by 2030. There have been a number of initiatives arising out of this. The Government’s future high street fund potentially has around £1 billion of expenditure in it. Historic England has produced heritage action zone funding, aimed at shopping centres in conservation areas. Heritage lottery funds will also support retailing in areas that have heritage significance.

The future high streets plan has about £1 billion available and 100 areas have been allocated seed-corn funding of around £150,000 to work up a bid that will be in the region of £25-50 million then that funding will be made available, possibly in April/May 2020. There are also 69 areas that have been awarded funding from Historic England for heritage action zones funding, which can be up to £1 million, and Chester is one of those places to be allocated funding. There were over 300 expressions of interest in this high street fund, of which 100 were short-listed.

Portas Pilots

Mary Portas was appointed some years ago to look at ways of transforming high streets and it can be argued that her attempt was pretty unsuccessful. It was good PR but apart from making a television programme, most of the pilot towns don’t seem to have progressed very far. However, there are some honourable exceptions to that. Broadstairs, for instance, was an original “Portas Pilot” and set up what was called a “town team” using volunteers to try to revive the town centre and that pilot project is still running today, despite the fact that the funding has ended.

Barnes, in SouthWest London, also had a Portas Pilot, and instead of spending the money on external consultants they actually decided to have a community workshop to bring local people together and ask them about what they should do. So there was a team made up of businesses, residents, community groups and councillors and they planned a visioning event to create a vision for the town that was led by the residents.

They held a workshop called the “Big Barnes Ponder” in October 2013, which attracted 350 local residents. They grouped their ideas and from that devised six projects and they got 60 volunteers to help implement those projects. Since then, it’s kept going and volunteers have been campaigning and lobbying from the bottom up to try and make their high street a more interesting and refreshing place.

The difference between these two and most of the other Portas Pilots has been that they didn’t concentrate on trying to bring retail back in, but instead to make their town centres an interesting and lively place where people could congregate and felt a sense of belonging and could carry out community activities.

Success in Barnes

That has led to some spectacular successes. Civic Voice held a workshop in Aldershot to look into a similar project there and, in response to Aldershot Civic Society’s Tweet, they got one back from someone in Barnes, telling them that the footfall there since the start of its project had actually doubled. The project in Barnes succeeded in bringing people back there, and if you can bring people back to your town centre, then you have a better hope of keeping retail alive. But you also have to provide people with other reasons to come.

So where do we start if we want to revive high streets? The Institute of Place Management (IPM) at Manchester Metropolitan University came up with a model where they looked at the factors affecting towns, shopping centres and high streets. There are some things – called spatial – which you can’t do anything about, so you are where are, you have no influence over where the town is located, and whether it has a big city nearby. There are also macro factors, political and economic, social and environmental factors which an individual high street cannot do much about.

There are factors about competition – maybe you can do something about those, internet shopping, out-of-town retailers – the high street can have limited influence on those, but actually there are examples where high street retailers are succeeding. But it is the factors in the high street itself that you can influence most. Individual retailers – how the transport system works, whether you can park, how you can encourage regular customers, those are all things that you can do. So the message is basically to focus on the things that you can change, not on the things that you can’t.

Success factors

The IPM came up with 201 factors that influence vitality and viability in the high street. They start with footfall as number one, accessibility, types of retailers, convenience, and they go right the way down to cycling, land contamination, and healthcare, so a huge range of factors. You are a civic society and we are an organisation of civic societies, what can we do about it? Well lots of civic societies are doing things about it. Meetings such as this are taking place all over the country. You are asking questions and thinking about what you can do and what your influence might be.

To give you some examples of things that are happening, Great Yarmouth Preservation Trust has succeeded in buying up properties in the town centre, renovating them and then renting them out to independent retailers at reasonable rents, to try to encourage development of the town centre. Nantwich Civic Society has managed to set up a town centre partnership, including the council and local businesses and the civic society is chairing it, so is in the driving seat.

Bradford Civic Society is involved with the Business Improvement District (BID) – an initiative that has been discussed for Haslemere, where businesses in an area agree to pay an increased business rate in order to fund activities that will boost retail and footfall in the town centre. In Chester, the BID employs local “ambassadors” who are present in the high street to help and guide people and deal with any problems them may have.

The role of civic societies

Local people have a much better chance of understanding their area, particularly when they get to act collectively. The national level is important too, and that’s where Civic Voice comes in, because we are representing you at a national level. Civic societies in general need a national body to press their case at the national level. We are getting somewhere. The House of Commons Select Committee, which I mentioned earlier is very much in line with what Civic Voice is saying, namely that local plans need to be living documents and BIDs need to have community representation on them, not just business representation.

It is no good harking back to the mass retail-led model that has been the norm, town centres and high streets need to become activity-based community-gathering places and retail is just one part of the range of offers and activities, along with green space, leisure, arts and culture, social services and housing all have a place in town centres. My message to you is that anywhere anyone can be part of this change. It is happening in communities across the country where local people are taking the lead in trying to revive their town centres and high streets, and civic societies are an invaluable mechanism in helping to make this happen.

 

Brightwells Films 2019

Brightwell films image 2019

                                

May 2019, three more films have now been released about the Brightwells Yard development. These films reflect thoughts and experiences from residents, consultants and shop owners one year after the start of construction. For full screen view of film, click on title rather than on ‘Play’ arrow.

We seek feedback, please email us with your views and thoughts about these films and the development on

farnhamfilms@gmail.com

Borelli Walk Update

Peter Bridgeman, retired arboricultural consultant, talks about the history and environmental importance of Borelli Walk, and the impact of the Brightwells Yard development, notably on biodiversity.

Questions are raised about the respect expected from the developer. Waverley Borough Council offer comments on the interview with Peter Bridgeman. Click here for link.

Impact on retailing in Farnham

Owners of independent shops give their mixed views on the likely impact of the commercial element of the new development. 

Debbie Flowerday, a highly regarded retail consultant, living in Farnham, gives her opinions on the possible interaction between the old and new areas in the town, and puts forward ideas regarding the relative merits of different types of shops.

Click here for link to film

Brightwells, impact on traffic

Robert Mansfield, local resident and internationally respected traffic engineer, explains  the impact of the Brightwells Yard development upon traffic in and around Farnham. Motorists give thier views on traffic congestion on the A31 during the construction of the temporary bridge. Views are offered on the likely congestion and parking issues in the town centre.

Click here for link to film.

Please email us with your views and thoughts about the films and the development, on

farnhamfilms@gmail.com

Our original June 2018 film on the Brightwells Yard development, is still available,

Click here to view.

 

 

A Brighter Future for Farnham ?

A Brighter future for Farnham film image 2019

The Farnham Society has commissioned several films about the Brightwells development and its impact upon Farnham.

The first film in the series, published in 2018 at the start of construction work, is titled A Brighter Future for Farnham? and  you can watch it on on Youtube.  Click here to view

The film sets out to record the current range of views about the development scheme and the hopes and fears that people in the town have about it. Subsequent films (now released) track the development and how it is impacting the life of the town in positive and negative ways. Feedback has been provided by people and businesses resident in the town and visitors to it. Further feedback is sought.  Please email us with your views and thoughts about the development, on

1BWfilm.fsoc @gmail.com   or   farnhamfilms@gmail.com

Three further films, released in May 2019, reflect thoughts and experiences one year after the start of construction, click here for link.

 

 

A31 Brightwells Access Works

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Farnham town centre is about to undergo a considerable amount of disruption caused by building and redevelopment work starting shortly. Brightwells has planning permission although a number of new applications are being processed by Waverley seeking permission to make some changes to the approved proposals. Major works started at the Woolmead and at the Hopfields in autumn 2018.

Preparatory works for the Brightwells Development have already been undertaken, trees cut down next to the A31 east bound carriageway to allow access from the bypass. This construction work will take 12 to 14 weeks and involve the closing of the inside east bound lane of the A31 dual carriageway bypass. A further lane closure is programmed at the completion of the development, likely to be 8 to 10 weeks.

We have identified the following likely problems:

  1. Closure of the inside lane from the Firgrove Hill Bridge through the Hickleys Corner traffic signals to beyond the construction site for 24 hours during the two periods.

  2. Some re-adjustment of the traffic signal phasing at Hickleys Corner. There can be only a small change in timings because of the high existing traffic flows from Station Hill and from the Town Centre.

  3. The major problem will be the capacity of the traffic signals at Hickleys Corner. These operate on a sophisticated program which minimises the overall delay to traffic on all approaches. Recent counts by traffic engineers for the developers gave an morning peak flow eastbound entry flow on the A31 of 1,361 vehicles per hour (vph) [approximately 22 vehicles per minute] and an eastbound exit flow of 1811vph [approximately 30 vehicles per minute]. This latter number includes the traffic exiting South Street onto the Bypass eastbound and that exiting Station Hill onto the Bypass eastbound. The mid morning flows are nearly as high.

  4. The junction already operates at very nearly full capacity and it is not possible to reduce this by some 40% with single lane usage without very serious consequences.

  5. If the signal timings are changed it should be practical to reduce this capacity reduction to about 30%.

  6. Traffic flows from Station Hill onto the A31 should be similar to that at present but if there is no change in the traffic signal timings and that the single lane A31 eastbound from Hickleys Corner is not congested. If the signal timings are changed there would be a drop of about 10% in the traffic flow.

  7. Some longer distance through traffic will divert to other routes, A3, M3 etc but much of the traffic on the A31 is local and long delays, queues and frustration for drivers is likely to become more common.

  8. It is not possible to estimate how long the delays will likely be but many members and residents people are aware of long delays whenever there is one lane closed for grass cutting or other highway works and this is always carried out outside the peak periods. Delays of 20 or 30 minutes are not uncommon.

  9. Delays on the bypass nearly always have an immediate effect on the town centre. Gridlock has occurred repeatedly and recently when there was only a single lane for A31 eastbound traffic through the Shepherd and Flock traffic signals.

  10. We reluctantly envisage the town centre being gridlocked more frequently and for it to occur for long periods throughout the day.

  11. In essence you cannot put a quart into a pint pot without an overflow. ‘Overflow’ in this case will be drivers seeking alternative routes around north and south Farnham, through the town centre, or a lack of trips into Farnham.

Measures that could reduce the impact could be:

  1. Drivers should be encouraged by traffic signing to enter and exit Farnham via Firgrove Hill and Longbridge.

  2. New signage on the A31 and A325 stating: ‘Major works will take place from date X to date Y on the A31 Bypass eastbound. Do not divert into town centre’.

  3. Signs on A31 and A325 stating: ‘Town centre is for local traffic only and no through traffic. This could be controlled and implemented by number plate recognition cameras but is unlikely to be progressed.

  4. Control of the construction traffic timings so that major HGV movements from the Brightwells Development and Woolmead are not at the same time.

  5. All parking for construction vehicles on the Brightwells site must be within then site itself.

  6. Any changes coming from the proposed pedestrianisation or Town Centre Regeneration scheme are introduced after the completion of Brightwells and The Woolmead.

Robert Mansfield

9 May 2018

Click here for full report

Farnham model

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The model of East Street Brightwells displayed at the Farnham Carnival and at the Bourne Show has been extensively enlarged and upgraded. The Stedman Blower Foundation have widened the area of the model to extend from the Lion and Lamb Yard in the west to the Riverside Industrial Estate in the east, and from the north side of Woolmead Road to the Borelli Walk to the south.  The model was displayed in the Long Kiln Room at the Maltings during the HODS festival in September, at the Christmas Market in December and most recently at 40 Degreez, on 17 February 2018.

 

Judicial Review judgement handed down

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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.

 

 

Brightwells Judicial Review – Preliminary Hearing

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Five local residents are taking Waverley Borough Council (WBC) to the High Court for a Judicial Review into the East Street / Brightwells development. There was a preliminary hearing, at the Royal Courts of Justice, on 31 January 2017, to establish the legal standing of the five claimants.

The five were granted permission in August 2016 to go to Judicial Review.  This was to examine whether WBC had behaved lawfully in their management of the development contract. Specifically, their case was that WBC failed to retender the contract after making significant changes to the benefit of the developer, Crest Nicholson. WBC challenged the legal standing of the claimants, arguing that a claim could only be brought by a rival developer. The matter was heard on 31 January before Mr Justice Dove. The judgement is expected to be announced within a few weeks of the hearing.

While the group of residents is not opposed to redevelopment of the area, it believes that the proposed scheme fails to provide what Waverley offered when they first set out their ideas for the development back in 2003. Click here to see how the scheme has changed.

Click here for an explanation of the JR process.

Brightwells model

Brightwells development seen from The Woolmead

Brightwells development seen from The Woolmead

The Farnham Society has constructed scale models of the Brightwells development from the architectural plans posted on the Waverley website. It demonstrates the sizes of the buildings and shows how they would dominate the surrounding part of the town.

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In an early version of the model, the largest building, designated D8, shows detailed appearance, while other buildings are shown in block form to illustrate their approximate size. D8 is top right in the picture above, and covers most of the Dogflud car park. It is a four storey ‘plus’ block, and would be the largest building in Farnham. The block is to house the cinema, shops and apartments, providing car parking on all levels of the building including lower ground level. The picture below illustrates its height relative to Brightwell House. It shows how the space on the south side of the house is dominated by the new tall buildings, to the detriment of the house.

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This central area is accessed by narrow alleyways, the picture below shows the approach from the existing sports centre.

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Likewise, the new Town Square, on the left hand side of Brightwell House in the picture below, is surrounded by high buildings and most of it will be in shadow for parts of the day.

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A later version of the model shows the proposed blocks in more detail.  The existing Brightwell House is shown in orange, and the model demonstrates clearly how it is dwarfed by the new blocks.

Model Image 5.17

Model Image 10.17

Model Image 12.17

The scale model presents a very different impression to that created by the Fly Through on the Waverley website. We have in the past wondered why Waverley have never produced a model of the scheme. We can now see why, having studied our own model.
After a photograph of the model was published in The Farnham Herald (week of 30 September 2106), various comments were made via Facebook:
John Spackman
September 29 at 11:40am
• Model depicts objectors’ fears
The Farnham Herald, Thursday 29th September 2016
Judi Fisher, Yolande Hesse and 6 others

Liam O’Reilly Where can I view this model David Howell?
Like · Reply · September 29 at 11:46am

Ben Shepherd So the picture look nothing like the model. What a surprise. We all love a bit of spin.

John Spackman • Planning Applications WA/2008/0279

http://planning.waverley.gov.uk/…/(RefNoLU)/WA20080279…

• D8 – East Elevation

http://www.waverley.gov.uk/…/WA2…/13512%20TPN-D8-050.pdf

• D8 – North Elevation

http://www.waverley.gov.uk/…/WA2…/13512%20TPN-D8-051.pdf

• D8 – South Elevation

http://www.waverley.gov.uk/…/WA2…/13512%20TPN-D8-052.pdf

• D8 – West Elevation

http://www.waverley.gov.uk/…/WA2…/13512%20TPN-D8-053.pdf

• D8 – Sectional Elevation 01

http://www.waverley.gov.uk/…/WA2…/13512%20TPN-D8-054.pdf

• D8 – Sectional Elevation 02

http://www.waverley.gov.uk/…/WA2…/13512%20TPN-D8-055.pdf

• D8 – Strip Elevations 01

http://www.waverley.gov.uk/…/13512%20TPN-D12-056.pdf

• D8 – Strip Elevations 02

http://www.waverley.gov.uk/…/13512%20TPN-D12-057.pdf

• D8 – Strip Elevations 03

http://www.waverley.gov.uk/…/WA2…/13512%20TPN-D8-058.pdf

• D8 – Strip Elevations 04

http://www.waverley.gov.uk/…/WA2…/13512%20TPN-D8-059.pdf

• D8 – Elevation in Context

http://www.waverley.gov.uk/…/WA2…/13512%20TPN-D8-060.pdf

Liam O’Reilly I assume the model was constructed be viewed by the public to convince people of the problem rather than to be viewed in private by a select few. I’d like to see it to understand the problem. Are there plans to display it publicly?

John Spackman • Magnified photograph of “The model showing Brightwell House ‘swamped’ by the new development”

Liam O’Reilly The model looks great. Is there somewhere we can view it?

Malcolm Bond Sorry, but this is an inappropriate monolith, completely unsuited to the plot size, and to Brightwells House, and, moreover, completely destroys Brightwells Gardens..

Martin Gardiner Crest removed all the nice bits, and Farnham picked up the tab.
Heads should roll.

Neil Farnham-Smith Shame the photo they published didn’t include the sports centre. I think that will shock people most about how different things will be.

Liam O’Reilly Why not make the model public? What’s the point of it if the people of Farnham can’t see it?

Martin Gardiner What I don’t understand is how WBC have the gall to leave that increasingly-misleading fly-through video on their website.
You would have to be quite foolish to believe it.

Liam O’Reilly No plans to allow the public to see this accurate model then?

Legal challenge to Brightwells gets go-ahead

Brightwells Masterplan 2016

Local residents have been fighting the plans by Waverley Borough Council and the developer Crest NIcholson to create a massive and unsustainable development in the centre of Farnham, south of East Street.  Permission has now been granted to take Waverley to court for a Judicial Review.

While the group of residents is not opposed to redevelopment of the area, it believes that the proposed scheme fails to provide what Waverley offered when they first set out their ideas for the development back in 2003. Click here to see how the scheme has changed.

The only way to halt this development, and to make way for a better and workable scheme, is by Judicial Review (JR). This is a legal process which has been started, with funds put up by The Farnham Society and Farnham Building Preservation Trust . Click here for an explanation of the JR process. To continue, further funds are needed NOW. An appeal is therefore being made to local people. An anonymous donor immediately came forward with a donation of £50,000.  Further fuds were raised in the period that followed, to support high quality legal representation.

The Farnham Society has offered to support by acting as a collecting point for donations. Please help, click here for a donation form.

Brightwells Restored

Brightwells Area

In 2002, local architect Michael Blower prepared sketches showing an alternative approach to the redevelopment of Brightwells. The scheme provided a town square, off East Street, offering a public venue for markets and outdoor events.

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The square was enclosed to the south by a crescent, with a roof line matching The Marlborough Head public house, which, along with Brightwell house, was retained.

 MB1

In 2015 Michael Blower worked with Michael Holden on another alternative scheme, named  ‘Brightwells Restored’. The scheme retains Brightwell Garden as a public space, extending from Brightwell House to the river, and to be landscaped as a park. Two terraces of town houses flank the park, and provide 100 housing units, including affordable apartments. Retail and restaurant facilities are provided as well as a cinema, and a theatre is retained at Brightwell House. The scheme also provides 394 car parking spaces.

 Brightwells Restored view

Both the 2002 and the 2015 schemes follow the spirit of the original 2002 Local Plan, retaining public space, reflecting the historic character of the town and creating an entertainment and cultural centre around East Street.