Proposals for a major £90 million regeneration scheme in Farnham, Surrey, have finally been put in motion after more than a decade of fierce debate.
The Brightwells scheme at East Street, developed by Crest Nicholson, will feature 167 homes (plus a further 72 designated as much needed affordable properties), an Odeon six screen cinema, plus a number of new boutique stores, restaurants and cafes.
It will also include a complete regeneration of the Grade II Listed Brightwells House, a new town square with landscaped garden and an underground car park for more than 400 vehicles.
The project, which will be located partially on the site of the much loved, yet financially ill fated Redgrave Theatre, has faced considerable obstacles.
It has required the compulsory purchase of a pub on the site and complex applications to close rights. In addition, there have also been more than 5,000 written representations to Waverley Borough Council over the past decade voicing concerns.
Since gaining approval in 2009, it has also faced opposition from the town’s civic society, amid objections over its potential impact on the character of the area.
Concerns have also been expressed that original plans to include the wider regeneration of the decaying 1960’s Woolmead shopping parade opposite the development site appear to have fallen by the wayside.
But developers have stood by the plans, which supporters have argued will allow Farnham to compete with other towns within the area that have had significant investment in recent years.
Adam Taylor-Smith, the borough councillor responsible for the scheme, welcomed its approved and believed it was on course to begin construction next summer.
He said “I believe the scheme will have a really positive impact on the area’s economy and help with a major problem of a lack of affordable housing in the area.
There were concerns about it being on the site of the former theatre, but that had not been financially viable without considerable public financing.
I think the development now has a great design and this is the right site for it, as it had been identifed as an area suitable for regeneration before original plans had been put forward at the end of the 1990’s.
The original plans put forward were in fact quite brutal and people were concerned that some of the buildings were not in the vernacular style of the town, so the developers went away and created more sloping roofs and traditional materials that there more in keeping.
Source – South East Business November 2013