Bricks and Mortar: Retailers are flocking to Farnham

By David Howell   |   Planning and property correspondent   |
Friday 13th August 2021 8:45 am
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The former Ordri clothes shop in Downing Street is under offer

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Last week I reported on some of the businesses that are coming to our town centre. Space prevented me including everyone, and I have a correction to record.

EDFIT

In Upper Church Lane, Ed Williams is opening Edfit on Saturday, August 28 in the former Elite Stitch shop at number 12.

Ed has been a personal fitness trainer for eight years, working in Sunbury, but has decided to set up on his own.

Some of his clients have moved to the area already and travel for his one-to-one sessions.

He tells me many of his clients are planning to travel to Farnham to continue using his services.

He will take group training sessions as well when he gets going.

Ed has started work fitting out the space – work to include a shower, new flooring, decoration and air conditioning.

Literally next door to Myfroyoland, one can see a compatibility – dedicated exercise followed by a cooling edible delight.

HAMILTON TEA HOUSE

I reported Hamilton Tea Rooms opening in the former Zapita shop had another outlet at Painshill Park, Cobham. I was wrong.

Steve Hamilton has emailed me and told me his family moved to Farnham two years ago when he took over as general manager of Farnham Castle. He is planning to open the Hamilton Tea House in early September.

UNDER OFFER

Having finished running through the businesses that are arriving or have already set up, I can report continued and strong interest in some other shops within the town centre.

Number 38 Downing Street, the former Ordri clothes shop, next door to the estate agents Strut and Parker, is under offer, the ‘legals’ close to completion.

The letting agent couldn’t tell me who is likely to be trading from the unit, nor the retail sector, but he anticipates a prompt opening once the lease has been signed.

I have been promised details as soon as they can be released and that could be in the next two weeks. You will have seen there is a scaffolding up there – things are moving forward.

I understand there is strong and competitive interest in the former Laura Ashley shop unit at 15 Lion and Lamb Yard, one interested party being a smaller high-end restaurant business.

I wasn’t able to be told the name of the company but as soon as I hear anything I will let you know.

There is also strong interest in the former Phase Eight shop unit at 4 West Street, although no other details were forthcoming at the time of preparing this report.

And there is strong interest, too, in the former Beverley Edmondson millinery shop in The Borough. The agent told me it is early days, but he is very hopeful on the successful letting.

An interested specialist wine and drinks merchant is still going through the acquisition process of the former Noa Noa shop at 113 West Street, and it is hoped this will be completed very soon.

The letting of number 1 Cambridge Place, the former Remington Harrow salon, is moving forward apace and the deal should be signed and sealed shortly. As soon as I hear something, I will post it.

I have heard rumours there is interest in the former Edinburgh Woollen Mill shop as an art gallery.

This is shop is being marketed by one of the London-based agents who generally are more difficult to get information from, or acknowledgement of an enquiry.

An exception is the agent acting for the owners of the old Carphone Warehouse shop, 16 West Street. He came back to me saying they have interest in the unit. Early days, but he is hopeful.

The former Argos unit? Don’t hold your breath.

NEW ON THE MARKET

Moss Bros have vacated their shop at 27 The Borough. At the time of preparing this report no agents’ board has been erected and our local agents don’t have any details to be able to enlighten me.

One business I noticed who are moving out is Millie Jones Hair at number 48 Downing Street. They are continuing to operate out of their shop in Haslemere.

FREEHOLD ACQUISITION

The freehold of number 41-42 The Borough, let to and occupied by White Stuff, went to auction last month. I hear a Farnham-based company won the auction. More news when I get it.

BIG PICTURE

Talking to both our main commercial property agents, what came across was the positivity within the retail market in Farnham. Both are struggling to cope with the demand of viewings and administering the progress of the transactions.

Interested tenant businesses have become more demanding, seeking more flexibility in the leases they take, looking for them to be of shorter duration or with options to exit the lease sooner than has been the case before.

Interest in entry units is particularly high, with those interested watching what is happening at Brightwells but many saying they want to be in the old town.

Farnham is becoming a destination town for business to set up or grow into.

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