Bricks & Mortar Reporter: Brightwells rumbles on, and on...

By David Howell   |   Planning and property correspondent   |
Friday 16th September 2022 3:19 pm
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The Blow Heads barbers in Godalming

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This week I thought I’d look at current activity in the retail sector and the latest I’ve heard on Brightwells – although I contemplated putting down my views on the current FIP consultation.

Communication

Let’s start with Brightwells. Crest continue to be as communicative as a building brick. Communication promotes trust and leads to a good relationship. Crest have scored ‘nul’ points for that. The workmen have proved more communicative. Walking down the newly-named Threadneedle Road – that’s the former Brightwells Road off East Street; who on earth chose and approved the name Threadneedle Road? – and a workman called out the cinema wasn’t open yet, it would be next year, adding, ‘maybe’.

Now it’s spring 2023

We know it is running late but for goodness sake, Crest’s published programme advised us the cinema would be open in the summer of 2021.

My sources tell me it is likely to be spring 2023. Spring officially starts on March 20, and just in case Crest don’t know, ends on June 21, 2023. Will they be out in 2024?

M&S

I haven’t commented on the M&S withdrawing debacle and in my opinion, it rates as one of the largest this town has known. Interestingly, had Crest preformed, or preformed to their second or third revised programme, M&S would have been trading in the space they wanted.

Questions

Planning applications have been submitted for the development. But how many of those businesses remain interested? How many have signed contracts? Very few, I hear. How many are having second thoughts now the anchor store have withdrawn?

Trust

Some have blamed the Farnham Five for the delay, but the delay happened because Crest couldn’t find an investor in the City, and who would blame them.

You will recall Crest had several more trees within the Brightwells site felled than needed to be removed, as it made life easier for them.

You may also recall there was a question about the roofing tiles on the Marlborough Head pub that were skipped at the start of the works.

They claimed they were concrete. They were actually clay.

I think that these events set the tone for Crest’s respect for the residents of Farnham.

Reel signage

Before moving on to talk about activity in the shop sector, just a quick word about the signage proposed on the east elevation of the cinema building over the car park entrance.

Reel want an illuminated REEL sign with 1,450mm high lettering – that’s 4ft 9in to many of us in old language.

That is readable at a distance of 685 metres – that’s 0.4 of a mile.

Roost

One piece of sad news is the departure of the Roost café on Lion and Lamb Way. I visited a number of times but not enough.

When I did many of the tables were occupied, but obviously not enough.

The uplifting news is there is already interest with a number of viewings of the space already.

Lion & Lamb Yard

The Curchod’s website shows 24 Lion & Lamb Yard – the former the Lion and the Bear shop – is under offer, as is the former Goldsmiths shop at 113B West Street which also fronts the Yard. More details when I have them.

121 West Street

A spokesman for Megan’s said they have no updates to share at the moment, but work is seemingly progressing inside the building. More when they contact me.

The Borough

The former Beverley Edmondson shop at number 27 The Borough has been withdrawn from the market. One can only surmise the space will be reincorporated with the Bush operation. If I get confirmation, I will let you know.

Cambridge Place

The new tenants of the former Remington Harrow salon at 1 Cambridge Place are waiting for their builders to start work stripping out and fitting out.

You will recall I there was a new gentlemen’s grooming business moving in. I am promised they will contact me shortly to give me the low down.

East Street

Bridges’ former estate agent shop at 8 East Street has had a viewing from a start-up business. It is a small unit at 250sq ft but potentially a superb position when the commercial part of Brightwells starts trading.

Bridges have moved in next door.

Cambridge Place is not the most attractive entry point to Brightwells but if you are planning to visit the shops beyond Brightwell House, the shorter obvious route.

I have said and maintain the alley between East Street and the back of Brightwell House is a most unwelcoming entrance to the development.

Stay positive

I think although we are extremely fortunate with our low shop vacancy rate, I see more difficult times ahead so we must stay positive and, where possible, use the shops in Farnham.

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