Tesco’s Express store in Lightwater scrapped

The report of Tesco scrapping their planned Tesco Express store in Lightwater is contained in the Friday issue of The Villager, and on Michael Gove’s website.

There’ll be many residents in Lightwater quietly pleased by this development, though MP Michael Gove, extensively quoted in The Villager’s article on the topic, is disappointed over the decision.

Some may’ve wanted a Tesco Express, me not so. Heck, I’ve argued long and hard at planning application meetings that a store of this kind was not needed in Lightwater. Now, if we could have a car park, that’d be high up on my agenda.

Lightwater is noted, particularly by residents, for having one of everything. We may not have the most attractive village centre, this is countered by us having a Post Office, supermarket, coffee bar, hair salons, barber, Cook shop, petrol station with an M&S Simply Food, independent butcher, newsagents, Boots the Chemist, Pharmacy, library, bookmaker, car sales site, dry cleaner, fish & chip shop, variety of food take-away’s, funeral provider, and of course an obligatory number of estate agents. So, my case has been that a Tesco Express was not needed.

In The Villager, it indicated Michael’s support for the store, not sure if that’s true, as he was pressing Tesco for a decision on their intentions, bearing in mind Tesco’s original planning application was in 2010. Yes, that long ago. Need to know more about the saga, then look HERE.

Surrey Heath draft Local Plan frequently asked questions

I’ve written about Surrey Heath Borough Council’s Draft Local Plan, and how the consultation period on it expires on Monday 30th July 2018.

The draft local plan contains proposed planning policy changes from the current local. It’s therefore, in my estimation, important for ideas and concerns from residents to be submitted.

Yesterday evening I attended the consultation event at Lightwater Leisure Centre, at which there were paper copies of the draft plan for perusal, and planning officers on hand to answer questions. I recommend those of you interested in influencing planning policies, and how they affect our communities, get involved in the consultation process. I’ll post my comments on particular aspects in the coming weeks.

I picked up the Frequently Asked Questions leaflet about the local plan consultation, which is shown below – front and back page first, and inside pages next. Click on images to expand.

Surrey Heath Borough Council comments on House of Fraser closure

Surrey Heath Borough Council has commented on the closure of House of Fraser in Camberley,

Today, 7 June 2018, House of Fraser has announced proposals to close 31 stores, including the Park Street store in Camberley.

The stores scheduled for closure, which also include its flagship London Oxford Street store, will stay open until early 2019.  The retailer needs the final approval of 75% of its creditors to go ahead with the closures.  Creditors will vote on the insolvency plan, which involves company voluntary arrangements (CVAs) on 22 June.

In a joint statement Karen Whelan, Chief Executive and Councillor Moira Gibson, Leader of Surrey Heath Borough Council, said;

“House of Fraser has been in Camberley for many years and since September last year we have been working closely with the House of Fraser Board on new concept designs for their Camberley store, to meet the aspirations of our residents. Whilst the store in Camberley has traded well for a number of years, it is caught by the national challenges faced by the Group which are not necessarily specific to Camberley.

By acquiring the freehold of this site, Surrey Heath did so as part of the wider regeneration of its town and not as an investment. The store has suffered from under investment over the years and the Council was in discussions with them to address this. Whilst these discussions are still ongoing, their own reinvestment proposals are dependent on a formal CVA and their position on legacy stores.

Whilst being disappointed by the news, because Surrey Heath is in control of the freehold of this site, like other sites we have bought, it enables us to continue our regeneration proposals by being able to move forward more flexibly and agilely with solutions.

Our concern is for the staff, many of whom are local, loyal and dedicated people who have also invested in the town centre. Whilst the proposed CVA is the start of a formal consultation process, many further discussions can still be had.

Surrey Heath Borough Council continues to move forward with our development proposals to create a new town centre, not just relying on retail but on the wider experience we can provide for our local community. We would like to see House of Fraser remain part of our future and we are firmly committed to doing what we can to assist that.”

To date SHBC has invested £140 million into Camberley; which includes the acquisition and subsequent refurbishment of The Square shopping centre, and Ashwood House which is currently being transformed into 116 high quality residential apartments.   Substantial projects to improve the town centre car parks, Princess Walk and the High Street are in the pipeline which will soon to be followed by the regeneration of the area along London Road (A30) between the High Street and Park Street and opposite the historic Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.

Request rejected for extension to opening hours for proposed Lightwater Tesco Express

While idly trawling the minutes and agendas of Surrey Heath Planning Committee I came across this item, reported in the minutes of the 14th December Planning Committee.

What an arrogant and insensitive organisation are Tesco. In the original application by Tesco, now many years ago, opening hours were restricted. Not hugely though. The restrictions were in recognition of the troubling anti-social behaviour resulting from the extended opening hours of Alldays [now the Cook Shop]. At the time its late opening attracted people seeking cheap alcohol.

This isn’t the first time that Tesco has sought to extend the opening hours. It’s a relentless approach by them to get their way, irrespective of the history and concerns of the local community.

Here’s the minute item from HERE.

Application Number: 17/0730 – 89 -91 Guildford Road, Lightwater GU18 5SB

The application was for the variation of condition 3 of planning permission SU16/0520 so as to allow the retail unit to be open to customers between 07:00 and 23:00 hours Monday to Saturday, and 07:00 and 22:30 hours Sundays and bank holidays. (Additional information recv’d 18/10/17).

This application would normally have been determined under the Council’s Scheme of Delegation for Officers, however it was reported to the Planning Applications Committee at the request of Cllr Gandhum.

The agent proposed an amendment to the application at the meeting but this could not be considered by Members as it diverted from the published application before them. Resolved that application 17/0730 be refused for the reasons as set out in the report of the Executive Head – Regulatory.

  • Note 1: As this application triggered the Council’s Public Speaking Scheme, Mr Matthew Roe, the agent spoke in support.

  • Note 2: Councillor Surinder Gandhum declared he had a Disclosable Pecuniary Interest as his business was located opposite the proposal, and he left the Chamber during the consideration of the application.

  • Note 2: The recommendation to refuse the application was proposed by Councillor Adrian Page and seconded by Councillor Katia Malcaus Cooper.

  • Note 3: In accordance with Part 4, Section D, paragraph 18 of the Constitution, the voting in relation to the application was as follows:Voting in favour of the recommendation to refuse the application:Councillors Nick Chambers, Vivienne Chapman, Edward Hawkins,Jonathan Lytle, Katia Malcaus Cooper, Max Nelson, Adrian Page, RobinPerry, Pat Tedder, Victoria Wheeler and Valerie White. John Winterton. Voting against the recommendation to refuse: Councillor Colin Dougan

Camberley High Street revitalisation funding approved

Surrey Heath Borough Council is very pleased to announce that it has secured funding from Enterprise M3 Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) to improve the High Street and public spaces in Camberley Town Centre.

SHBC has been awarded a £3.5 million grant from Enterprise M3’s Local Growth Fund. The LEP supports economic growth of areas in the M3 corridor – stretching from Staines-upon-Thames to the New Forest, covering mid to North Hampshire, as well as South and West Surrey.  SHBC will add funds of £900k, so the total budget for the project is £4.4 million.

The scheme is an integral part of the strategy to develop Camberley as a major commercial centre.    It is estimated that the improvements could lead to an increase in the number of people coming into the town centre by 20% over a 10 year period. Other potential economic benefits expected to be generated by the scheme include more 100 jobs, with a total value of over £14m.

In addition to substantial structural improvement to The High Street, which will include widening the pavements, improving road and pavement surfaces; the project will also incorporate installation of public art and improved public seating and walkways in Knoll Walk and Princess Way.

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