Bricks and Mortar: Construction sites and shop closures

By David Howell   |   Planning and property correspondent   |
Saturday 6th June 2020 6:42 am
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'Activity on Bellway’s Little Acres site was intense but closely monitored' ()

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WITH the lockdown eased, it seems a good time to review what has happened since March, together with activity in the past week.

* Castle Street botch

I hinted previously at the issues involved with the replaced paving in Castle Street in May.

Did you have a chance to look? According to Surrey Highways, the works are ‘finished’ – but I believe many of the residents wouldn’t accept the standard of workmanship on the path down the side of their house. The footpath adjacent to Bill’s is particularly appalling.

Architectural historian Alec Clifton-Taylor OBE said of Castle Street: “For sheer visual delight, this street has few equals in all England” What would he think of what Surrey have done?

As you may have seen, work to the pavements has started on the south side of West Street.

* Housing developments

Work has resumed at Abbey View, Folly Heights and Little Acres housing sites. There appears to be limited activity at Brightwells. I contacted the developers or their PR companies looking for an update on their resumption of works.

Taylor Wimpey were the most helpful, providing a statement quickly. They were the first developer to stop construction and appeared to lead resumption of works on the Abbey View site. They said: “A new set of protocols for all sales offices and show homes has been developed alongside new safety measures which have been introduced to protect the health and safety of its customers and employees.”

No indication of the impact on programme and house availability was offered.

Work has also resumed on CALA’s Folly Heights site, but activity looks limited at the moment.

Activity on Bellway’s Little Acres site was intense but closely monitored (pictured right).

Nothing from Crest Nicholson. Surely now is the time for Surrey to announce a Plan B for the retail sector of the development. Who needs more shops and restaurants now?

* National retailer closures

Carphone Warehouse in West Street ceased trading on April 3 as a result of the company’s decision to close its standalone stores.

The firm says the move is not related to the coronavirus outbreak but was because of the changing mobile phone market. They said the 40 per cent of staff affected by the closures are expected to take new roles in the business.

Johnson Shoes Company, the parent company of footwear retailers Johnsons Shoes and Bowleys Fine Shoes, filed for administration in the week of May 18, marking yet another casualty amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The Bowley shop in Farnham is in the listed building The Spinning Wheel, formerly the Goat’s Head Inn in The Borough. The building was restored by architect Harold Falkner under the patronage of Charles Borelli around 1910.

A Johnson Shoes spokesman said: “We have had a number of expressions of interest in the business but it remains for sale, and it’s imperative we find a buyer in the near future.”

Let’s hope the business survives.

* New arrivals

Diane Meyers opened for business as Ultimate Male Grooming (UMG) on Wednesday, March 11 and unfortunately had to close because of Covid-19 on Friday, March 20. As it ‘says on the tin’, they provide male grooming services but also have a coffee shop, which is currently open for takeaways. They intend to reopen the grooming part of the shop on Saturday, July 4.

Looking forward to things getting back to nearer normal, in the meantime stay safe. A further update next week.

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