Last time I said I would find out what was happening on the Brightwells site together with the former Lloyds Bank property, now owned by Young & Co. Here's what I've found out so far...


At long last the start of work is visible on the front of the former Marlborough Head pub in East Street. Progress on the new staircase from the Sainsbury’s lower ground floor car park to Cambridge Place remains stagnant. When did they start that work? I will go back and check.

The new staircase at Sainsbury's in South Street, Farnham – ongoing, 15 months and counting
The new staircase at Sainsbury's in South Street, Farnham – ongoing, 15 months and counting (David Howell)


I have been lucky enough to look around the new REEL cinema which, at long last, opens officially on Friday, February 2 (they were scheduled to open during the summer of 2021, so two and a half years ago). 

What do I think? First impressions – sparkling. I am hopeful that the cinema will be a new main attraction for every resident regardless of age. However, there were several things I picked up on, but that’s for next time. Too many other things to tell you about.

Devo Tea

Aubert Yang, the owner of Devo Tea, contacted me again before publication of the last article, having responded to my call for feedback on last year and aspirations for this year.

Devo Tea opened in May but received a one-star Food Standard’s Agency hygiene rating from Waverley Borough Council. I understand the reasons were not disputed but on the face of it, appeared harsh. The issues were addressed immediately, and the shop now has a five star rating. 

Aubert has told me that this was a great learning experience and he has built on this, increasing the menu choice, reinforcing the quality of all the ingredients used, together with widening his social media presence. He asked when Brightwells Yard is opening?

Easter 2024?

I’m afraid the answer is that no one seems to know who some of the retailers are or when the retailing element of the development will be open. Well, someone should or must know but we the residents aren’t being told. Rumours are as previously reported, Easter 2024, but I can’t see Coppa Club being ready to open in Brightwell House in the remaining ten weeks, can you?

Will the Coppa Club be ready to open in Brightwell House in 10 weeks?
Will the Coppa Club be ready to open in Brightwell House in 10 weeks? (David Howell)


What it demonstrates in my book is how important it is that major developments like Brightwells are progressed efficiently and profitably but are completed on time. I am not aware of any concrete justifiable reason why Crest haven’t completed, even allowing for the delay caused by the pandemic. I will remind you that they were due to be completely finished by the autumn of 2022. If you know the reason, please email me. It isn’t just Devo Tea that are suffering the blight from Crest’s failure to finish the development, there are others. And let’s not talk about the Woolmead…

Borough Beer House

Joe Curran, owner of the Beer House in the Town Hall Buildings, has come back to me about how things are going, saying that they had a great Christmas although they are “still in their infancy and that things will grow and change over time”. Joe went on to say they are very excited about the new year but they were “seeking kind words, support and positive comment.” I have to say we are so lucky to have an independent pub or drinking house with such an incredible range of beers.

The Village co-working space in St George’s Yard, Farnham
The Village co-working space in St George’s Yard, Farnham (David Howell)

The Village

I found out about this new business – a co-working community for women, at the end of last week. The founders, Ariel and Charlie, agreed to meet me one evening – they both hold down serious full-time jobs during the day. They met at university in the UK and have subsequently married, Ariel is from Austin, Texas, and incredibly engaging, forward thinking and, I think, ambitious. 

She told me that she loves Farnham and feels at home here having only lived here for two years. The Village is based at 2 St George’s Yard, off Castle Street, in a recently refurbished building with two floors. On offer to women who get membership are 15 workstations in an open plan space encouraging collaboration together with two cellular booths for phone calls and video meetings. 

Downstairs there is a meeting room for six, kitchen area and reasonably large space for social inter-action. Evening events are planned which will be open to members and non-members on business orientated issues. You can, I understand, book the building for private events. 

The spaces need some curtains or blinds and some artwork, but I was told that is being organised. 

I asked why ‘women only’ ? “Why not” was her response. Membership has already exceeded 20 per cent of her goal so you’d better get in quickly.

Ariel finished by telling me that “we will continue to learn and grow from the feedback we get from our members (and visitors) so that we can make this community and space distinctly what they need”.

Coffee Diem

Lion & Lamb Yard

I was really hoping to be able to tell you that a deal had been done on Coffee Diem and the shop. Still waiting to get some positive news, but meanwhile, I am hearing encouraging rumours. 

Former Lloyds Bank building

Youngs haven’t come back to me, but a new Listed Building Consent application was submitted, validated on December 21, 2023, and is recorded as pending.

Waverley should determine the application within eight weeks. In the meantime, temporary screening has been set up on the ground floor windows facing Castle Street. I am told some activity has taken place.


My search has revealed that the works on the staircase started in September 2022, so has been going on for over 15 months.