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Surrey County Council Community Projects Fund

Your Fund Surrey small

Surrey County Council (SCC) has launched the Community Projects Fund.

SCC announced a Medium-Term Financial Strategy in 2020/21, which included a five year capital programme in excess of £1bn.

£100m of this sum is allocated to Your Fund Surrey, to support the Voluntary, Community and Faith sector. The fund is to help communities to deliver big, place-changing projects that local areas need and that will improve opportunities and quality of life for residents.

To be eligible, projects must fit with the aims of Surrey’s Community Vision, and must have the support of the local community.

The funding can be only used for Capital, one-off costs, not to cover ongoing running and maintenance costs.

Think Big image
We now have the opportunity to propose projects in Farnham to take advantage of this funding.

Do you have ideas for projects which would benefit your local community? Sports facilities, a community centre, communal work space ?
Use this
link to access the SCC web page with more information:
https://www.surreycc.gov.uk/people-and-community/voluntary-community-and-faith-sector/funding/community-projects-fund

The web page contains advice on how to develop your idea, and you can plot your Ideas on the interactive Commonplace map, to enable people to comment and add further suggestions.

Projects that meet the criteria and prove that they will deliver a positive benefit for local people will be taken through an application process and the first funding will be administered in Spring 2021.

 

Covid 19 cases in Waverley

coronavirus image

Keep track of the number of Covid-19 cases arising locally. This will give an indication of how relaxation of lockdown is affecting the spread of the disease in our area. Cases for Waverley are published by the UK government, see the website coronavirus.data.gov.uk  Data is updated on a daily basis. The method of counting cases has been changed on several occasions, most recently on 16 November. The chart of weekly cases shows figures adjusted to this latest method of counting cases.

Weekly Covid-19 cases 9 January

 

For the week ending Saturday 9 January, this amounts to 541 new cases in Waverley  per 100,000 head of population. For the whole of England, in the same week there were 622 new cases per 100,000. Historical data is listed below.

Date                      Total number of cases        % of population*

17 January                       4759                               3.77

16 January                       4656

15 January                       4592

14 January                       4471

13 January                       4383

12 January                       4314

11 January                       4256

10 January                       4191

9 January                         4098

8 January                         3986

7 January                         3870

6 January                         3756

5 January                         3667

5 January    National lockdown imposed

4 January                         3515

4 January   Oxford / AstraZeneca vaccine introduced

3 January                         3393

2 January                         3299

1 January                         3152

31 December                   3049

30 December                   2837

29 December                   2747

28 December                   2643

27 December                   2568

26 December                   2525

26 December   Waverley raised to Tier 4

25 December                   2439

24 December                   2375

23  December                  2310

22  December                  2271

21  December                  2220

20  December                  2175

19  December                  2095

18  December                  2045

17  December                  2008

Waverley remains in Tier 2

16  December                  1986

15  December                  1937

14  December                  1915

13  December                  1874

12  December                  1837

11  December                  1809

10  December                  1789

9  December                    1776

8  December                    1759

8 December     Vaccination programme starts

7  December                    1743

6  December                    1733

5  December                    1712

4  December                    1698

3  December                    1681

2 December  End of lockdown, Waverley placed in Tier 2

2  December                    1664

1  December                    1650

30  November                  1640

29  November                  1637

28  November                  1626

27  November                  1617

26  November                  1608

25  November                  1593

24  November                  1569

23  November                  1550

22  November                  1530

21  November                  1514

20  November                  1498

19  November                  1486

18  November                  1473

17  November                  1465

16  November                  1435

16   November  Change to method of counting cases 

15  November                  1548

14  November                  1524

13  November                  1508

12  November                  1486

11  November                  1445

10  November                  1411 7

9   November                   1400

8   November                   1368

7   November                   1350

6   November                   1334

5   November                   1312

5   November   Nationwide lockdown to last until 2 December

4   November                   1297

3   November                   1276

2   November                   1250

1   November                   1227

31 October                       1209

30 October                       1185

29 October                       1153

28 October                       1128

27 October                       1104

26 October                       1080

25 October                       1056

24 October                       1036

23 October                       1006

22 October                        988

21 October                        968

20 October                        947

19 October                        924

18 October                        906

17 October                        891

16 October                        857

15 October                        846

14 October                        820

13 October                        801

12 October                        774

11 October                        768

10 October                        755

9 October                          737

8 October                          717

7 October                          702

6 October                          681

5 October                          667

4 October                          651

3 October                          625

2 October                          620

1 October                          618

30 September                   614

29 September                   611

28 September                   603

27 September                   597

26 September                   593

25 September                   590

24 September                   579

23 September                   569

22 September                   564

21 September                   559

20 September                   558

19 September                   558

18 September                   556

17 September                   554

16 September                   554

15 September                   553

14 September                   550

14 September  Groups restricted to 6 people

13 September                   550

12 September                   550

11 September                   546

10 September                   543

9 September                     541

8 September                     535

7 September                     530

6 September                     527

5 September                     524

4 September                     523

3 September                     521

2 September                     520

1 September                     519

1 September  Schools reopen

31 August                          514

30 August                          504

29 August                          504

28 August                          501

27 August                          501

26 August                          498

25 August                          496

24 August                          493

23 August                          491

22 August                          491

21 August                          487

20 August                          484

19 August                          481

18 August                          480

17 August                          478

16 August                          476

15 August                          475

15 August  Casinos and indoor theatres reopen

14 August                          475

13 August                          473

12 August                          473

10 August                          472

09 August                          472

08 August                          472

07 August                          472

06 August                          472

05 August                          471

04 August                          471

03 August                          471

02 August                          471

01 August                          471

31 July                               471

30 July                               471

29 July                               469

28 July                               467

27 July                               466

26 July                               466

25 July                               465

25 July    Indoor gyms and pools reopen

24 July                               464

23 July                               463

22 July                               463

21 July                               463

20 July                               463

19 July                               462

18 July                               461

17 July                               457

16 July                               456

15 July                               456

14 July                               456

13 July                               456

13 July    Beauty salons reopen

12 July                               456

11 July                               456

11 July    Outdoor swimming pools, outdoor theatres reopen

10 July                               455

09 July                               454

08 July                               454

07 July                               454

06 July                               452

05 July                               452

04 July                               452

04 July    Pubs and hairdressers reopen

03 July                               452

02 July                               451

02 July    Revised method of counting cases

01 July                               308

30 June                              308

29 June                              308

28 June                              308

27 June                              308

26 June                              308

25 June                              308

24 June                              307

23 June                              307

22 June                              307

21 June                              307

20 June                              307

19 June                              307

18 June                              306

17 June                              306

16 June                              305

15 June                              305

15 June       Non essential shops open

14 June                              305

13  June                             305

13 June     Social bubbles for 2 households allowed

12 June                              305

11 June                              305

10 June                              304

9 June                                304                                         0.24

1 June        Schools reopen to selected years

13 May      Some businesses (including Garden centres) reopen

* The Office of National Statistics (ONS) estimated the population of Waverley in mid 2019 as 126,328. On 18 October, the corresponding percentage figure for South East England was 0.62%, for London 0.8%.

Waverley Local Plan Part 2

WBC LPP2

Waverley Borough Council (WBC) has announced a public consultation on Part 2 of the new Local Plan, and is inviting your comments.

You may recall that the Local Plan Part 1, dealing with Strategic Policies and Sites, was adopted by the Council on 20 February 2018.

Part 2 deals with Site Allocations and Development Management Policies. It contains policies that will be used when making decisions on planning applications. It also allocates additional sites for housing in parts of the Borough, reviews the boundaries of our town centres and local landscape designations, and allocates sites for gypsy and traveller accommodation.

Parts 1 and 2 together will replace the Waverley Borough Local Plan (2002). Local Plan

WBC is now conducting a consultation on Part 2 before it is submitted to the Secretary of State next year for examination. Comments from residents are invited before the closing date of Friday 29 January 2021.

Local Plan Part 2 and other submission documents, including the representation form, can be viewed and downloaded via the Council’s website at www.waverley.gov.uk/LPP2

Hard copies of the documents are available for viewing by appointment only at the Council Offices, The Burys, Godalming, GU7 1HR, telephone 01483 523333.

Waverley will make alternative arrangements for residents who cannot view the documents online, and cannot travel to Godalming during the current pandemic. Contact WBC on 01483 523333 to discuss alternative arrangements.

 

Farnham Infrastructure Programme

IMG_7647

The Farnham Infrastructure Programme (FIP), a collaboration of Surrey County Council with Waverley Borough Council and Farnham Town Council, aims to deliver a single shared vision for the future infrastructure of Farnham.

The Farnham Local Liaison Forum (LLF) has been formed to engage with the local community and local businesses to shape Farnham’s future. The LLF was launched by Webinar on 5 August 2020, with a presentation by representatives of all three councils.

LLF Laptop Screen 2A

 

Click here for slide presentation.

You can watch the 2 hour webinar by clicking on the following link

https://www . youtube . com/watch?v=A45_vmXViHA&feature=youtu . be

For a list of questions raised and answers given at the webinar, click here.

A Farnham Infrastructure Vision Statement has been produced, as a consultation document. Click here to view.

To respond to the consultation click here. Consultation closes 8 November.

 

 

Brightwells: What are we getting ?

20200908_094825

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

 

Heritage Open Days 2020

Gostrey Meadow River Wey

The Covid-19 pandemic prevented us from offering the traditional range of activities – visits to historic buildings and private houses, walks and talks. So our celebration of Heritage Open Days had a new look this year. September saw the launch of a new survey of public green spaces in and around the town, presented as self conducted tours. On offer is a collection of 38 fascinating guides to Farnham’s Green Spaces, assembled and recorded by retired tree expert Peter Bridgeman, well known for his talks and guided walks. We feature parks, gardens and recreation grounds in and around the town. Some will be quite familiar but others much less well known.

 

The guides are presented in a set of two leaflets. One lists spaces within the town, the other describes those in outlying areas.  They are available now from the Council Offices in South Street, Farnham Library and other locations on the town, and are also online here – click the links below to download as PDFs.

Green spaces in town centre

Green spaces in surrounding area

The tours are not just for the Heritage Open Days weekend. The green spaces which we describe are generally open to the public. With the Covid-19 pandemic continuing, we face restrictions on private gatherings, but there is still the possibility of meeting in public places. The tours are an ideal way to get out and about, take exercise and enjoy the fresh air. The leaflets continue to be available from the Farnham Town Council offices – look for them outside the doors if the offices are closed. And they are available online, through the links above.

Farnham’s Heritage open Days has its own Facebook page.

Facebook

 

 

 

 

Cycling lanes in Farnham

Cycling

 

In recent weeks there have been a number of articles about cycling lanes. Did you see them ?

The Society maintains its position in supporting pedestrianisation and the introduction of shared spaces, but not giving preference to cyclists over pedestrians and motorists. We are, however, open to ideas provided they do not compromise safety and the wellbeing of all living, working and visiting Farnham

Fortunately, Farnham currently does not have any dedicated cycle lanes on its roads. There are numerous shared cycle lane pavements / footpaths but we will return to those. What would happen if cycle lanes were introduced to the roads in Farnham ? The Covid safe distancing measures introduced in June give us an idea.

We, like many residents, were appalled at the measures put in place by Surrey County Council, against the wishes of Farnham Town Council. Surrey strong-armed our local representatives and spent money that could have been used more effectively. But, surprise, surprise, Surrey weren’t the only local authority with responsibility for roads to introduce such schemes or cycle lanes, although maybe took longer in accepting that they were inappropriate and ugly.

The government rushed out £2 billion to encourage the public to cycle to work rather than use public transport or their cars during the pandemic.

The consequences of the measures were traffic chaos, disenchanted shop owners and managers and, to add insult to injury, government figures show the number using bicycles has fallen 25% since the first lockdown. That will be a national figure and it could be different in Farnham, however the consequences of the introduction of cycle lanes would have been very similar, if not probably worse, here in Farnham.

Reports from many towns across England record drivers left fuming as they queue next to empty routes coned off for cyclists. U turns have been made by councils with many of the cycle routes being ripped up at further expense.

The papers record that one cycle route in Greater Manchester was removed after just 28 hours because of the mayhem. Another route in Gloucestershire was scrapped after five days, and in West Sussex 12 miles of cycle lanes that reputedly cost £780,000 were removed because barely anyone was using them. In London a cycle lane between Euston Road and Marylebone Road costing £250,000 was removed because it created crippling traffic congestion, and thousands have backed a court challenge to overturn road closures brought in to boost cycling in Ealing.

Tory MP Craig Mackinlay led a campaign to scrap pop-up cycle lanes in his Kent constituency and said: “I am up for dedicated cycle lanes that have been well thought out, but to take away existing vehicular road space and cause more congestion is not a good idea. I speak to many MP colleagues and they are saying there are campaigns against these cycle lanes all across the country. I think the scheme should be scrapped.”

Pro-cycling groups and Transport Secretary Grant Shapps say opposition to the cycle lanes comes from a ‘vocal minority’. But Mr Shapps wrote to councils last month to warn that too many temporary cycle lanes were being left ‘unused’ and causing ‘traffic to back up.’

A Department for Transport spokesman said: “This Government is investing £27 billion to upgrade our roads in our largest road improvement programme. We are at the same time promoting cycling and walking as they are beneficial to people’s health and wellbeing, but we have been clear we expect local authorities to engage constructively with residents to make sure any changes are right for everyone, including motorists.”

It is reported that Portsmouth City Council announced that it would remove all parking along two main roads in Southsea to accommodate fully segregated bike lanes in both directions, as part of a three-week trial which may become permanent. Shop owners are already struggling it is claimed, and believe it will kill business dead.

Many people have suggested that the time has come for cyclists to be licensed – and to be forced to obey the Highway Code like the rest of us.

I am noticing increased disrespect for pedestrians by cyclists. Cyclists give way, or give a wide margin, for other cyclists but do not give way or leave an appropriate margin for pedestrians. Cyclists have become the ‘white van men’ of the pavement or footpath.

Although suggesting cyclists should be forced to obey the Highway Code there is in fact little in the Highway Code relating to cycling. The government is reportedly revising it, which may lead to drivers of cars, vans and lorries being assumed to be automatically responsible for accidents with cyclists.

Motoring groups are reportedly worried about the ‘hierarchy of users’ guideline which says ‘pedestrians and cyclists will have the right of way and that those in cars, vans and lorries will bear greater responsibility to keep them safe.’ Critics believe it means drivers will face the blame even if a cyclist was really at fault – and that the amendments may push up motor insurance premiums.

The proposed change states: ‘Those in charge of vehicles that can cause the greatest harm in the event of a collision bear the responsibility to care and reduce the danger posed to others’. This principle applies most strongly to drivers of large goods and passenger vehicles.’ Another change would grant cyclists the right of way to ‘undertake’ vehicles, even if the driver is already indicating to turn left.

The Society remains concerned at the possible repercussions of the cycling lobby’s impact on Farnham. The cycling campaign group have suggested a new phase on the Hickley’s Corner traffic lights. This would further increase congestion, already bad enough, on this major highway in Farnham. The consequence would be more congestion in the town centre, something that it is impossible to even consider.

Of course, cycling is an important activity and needs to be taken account of in the planning of our roads. We need to take care however that pedestrian safety is not compromised and that the overall wellbeing of our town is considered when making important changes, rather than just accepting the views of one sector of our community.

The current Local Liaison Forum consultations being run as part of the Farnham infrastructure Programme provides an opportunity for us all to get involved. There are further Local Liaison Forum Meetings taking place to discuss and allow residents to express their views later this week, and in December, and early January. Follow this link and register to take part, listen or voice your opinion www.farnham.gov.uk/LLF

Dates for your diary

Wednesday November 25 at 6.30pm, Community (active travel, air quality, biodiversity)

Wednesday December 9 at 6.30pm, Town Centre (East Street, pedestrianisation, bypass)

Wednesday January 6 at 3pm, A31 and Hickley’s Corner (north-south connectivity)

Wednesday January 6 at 6.30pm, Upper Hale (effects of town centre changes, bypass)

Thursday January 7 at 6.30pm, Wrecclesham (bypass)

Thursday January 14 at 6.30pm, Young people (travel to school, youth needs)

 

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.

 

Covid 19 and air pollution

Air pollution

Martin Luther University of Germany has studied correlation between Covid 19 and air pollution. The research indicates that long term exposure to NO² may be one of the most important contributors to fatality from Coronavirus.

Click here for further information about research

Click here for abstract of scientific paper

Although there is no causal link shown between air pollution and Covid 19, it is to be expected that people who have had long term exposure to high levels of NO²  will suffer from respiratory damage which is directly linked to greater risk from the disease.

NO² concentrations in central Farnham (as recorded at the automatic monitor at The Royal Deer crossroads) have fallen by around 50% since the lockdown commenced and are now at a very acceptable level of 16 µg/m³. Interestingly however, the Particulate Matter PM₁₀ readings have so far not changed, pointing to the fact that Particulate Matter is mostly the result of factors other than traffic and for Farnham are at levels well below UK government objectives (20 µg/m³ in Farnham compared with 40 µg/m³ government guidelines).

The diffusion tube NO²monitoring system run by Waverley BC has had to be suspended for the time being because of the current crisis.

 

Society’s Social Media Feeds

Facebook page image

 

Our Facebook page and Instagram account are gaining traction. We typically post on Facebook several times a day and on Instagram several times a week.

The Facebook posting generally include breaking national news stories of relevance to us in Farnham together with local news we feel locals should know about.

If you are a Facebook user do check out our Page, follow us. Link here https://www.facebook.com/The-Farnham-Society-1207086456002400/

Instagram postings give followers, currently over 600, a view of topical news and events in and around Farnham.

Follow us on Instagram. Link here https://www.instagram.com/farnhamsociety/?hl=en

Queries, email 1socsec.fsoc@gmail.com using the form below

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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.