Firgrove Parade: Rushmoor press release

Save Firgrove Parade

Save Firgrove Parade

Save Firgrove Parade

Save Firgrove Parade

The history of the Firgrove Parade site can be understood by looking at it from three perspectives, the original sale of the land, the Council’s strategic planning and economic growth policies and the recent planning application.

Land sale and covenant

In 1987, Rushmoor Borough Council sold the current Firgrove Parade site and some adjoining land to Bride Hall for £600,000.

At this time, a covenant was put in place to protect the Council’s interests by ensuring that a fair share of any future profits from the redevelopment of the land came back to the Council to support the provision of public services.

Due to the current financial climate, there has been a recent renegotiation of the financial arrangements, again to protect Rushmoor Borough Council’s interests on any redevelopment of the site. These new arrangements secure 25% of any future uplift in value of the site following development for the Council.

Strategic planning and economic growth

The council has a strategic role to enable the future growth and prosperity of its town centres, including Farnborough.

The Farnborough Town Prospectus was agreed in May 2012 following public consultation. This built on the Farnborough Town Centre Supplementary Planning document (adopted in 2007) and identified Firgrove Parade and the adjoining space as a key gateway site which would benefit from redevelopment. The prospectus envisaged that this could be a mixed-use scheme offering a range of commercial, leisure and retail space.

Planning application

In February, Bride Hall submitted a planning application which was fully in accordance with current planning policy. The Council, in its role as Local Planning Authority, considered and approved the application in June after public consultation. This development will represent a significant investment in the town.

In terms of the protesters’ concerns about the trees, as with many planning permissions, there is often a balance between development and protection of the existing environment. The trees are not covered by a Tree Preservation Order, but there’s no doubt that they add some amenity value. However we need to weigh this up with the investment benefits that the new development will bring to Farnborough.

In terms of a public right of way crossing the land, as with other developments, as long as there is an alternative route then the right of way can be extinguished or rerouted, provided the proper procedures are followed.

— Andrew Lloyd, chief executive, Rotten Borough of Rushmoor

How kind of Andrew Lloyd to issue a press release on Firgrove Parade. Shame he fails to address any of the issues.

Andrew Lloyd is past master at saying something without saying anything. This press release issued yesterday, is a classic example, as it is basically waffle.

We are told that ‘due to the current financial climate, there has been a recent renegotiation of the financial arrangements’.

What does that mean, it does not say? Has the borough got a better deal, it does not say? What we do know is that the Cabinet met October 2012 and quashed the existing restrictive covenant. They did so behind closed doors, therefore we do not know what grubby little deal was cooked up. They did so without any consultation with the public. What we do know is that the existing restrictive covenant was ‘onerous’ for the developer, and that was why it was quashed. What we do know is that the quashing of the restrictive covenant was squashed on payment of £1000 by the developer Bride Hall. What we also know is that the previous year before the restrictive covenant was quashed, Bride Hall in an exchange of e-mails demanded of the Council that they quashed the restrictive covenant as it would otherwise stop their development taking place.

This paints a different picture to what Lloyd is telling us of the Council negotiating a better deal. It would appear from Lloyd is telling us, and from what we already know, that Lloyd is not telling the truth.

We are told the town has to grow. The obvious question is why? And we are told this is the strategic gateway into the town, ie a back service road into a Sainsbury’s car park.

To date the town centre has been trashed, raped may be a better word, to satisfy the rapacious greed of a developer. A large number of independent business have been destroyed for a Sainsbury’s supermarket, an estate of 28 maisonettes social housing destroyed for a car park for the Sainsbury’s supermarket. We are left with a Poundland, tax-dodging Starbucks selling rubbish coffee, a tattoo parlour, a few High Street chains, charity shops and boarded-up shop units. £1 million of tax-payers money is being squandered on poorly laid paving slabs which no one sees as an improvement.

This is called town centre regeneration. George Orwell would be proud of this use of newspeak.

Into this mix steps Bride Hall, with a planning application to destroy the only remaining green area in the town centre for an unwanted 80-bedroom Premier Inn hotel and a block that will destroy four remaining small businesses (one of which as already been forced out). The gateway into the town, ie into a service road, will be an ugly Premier Inn hotel, that in mass and bulk and height, will dominate the site, a site that is currently open green space with trees.

A budget hotel, when there is another budget hotel a few minutes walk down the road, is clearly of little benefit to the town. A budget hotel that will only have seven car parking spaces.

Lloyd says ‘as with many planning permissions, there is often a balance between development and protection of the existing environment’. No attempt was made to achieve a balance. We have a harsh ugly urban environment, with the green area and the trees helping to give some respite.

It is true the trees have no TPOs, trees which Lloyd admits have amenity value, and to his credit he does not repeat the lie peddled at the planning committee that the trees are in a poor state of health.

As the trees have no TPOs, are at risk, then why does not Lloyd instruct that Emergency TPOs be served.

The investment brings no benefits to Farnborough, but we lose valuable green space, the trees on a busy junction helping to keep the air clean.

Lloyd correctly recognises that no development can take place whilst public rights of way cross the land, and if these are to be extinguished proper procedures must be followed, to which he should have added, these can be challenged.

As Lloyd recognises public rights of way cross the land, he must make it clear contractors cannot obstruct these rights of way, as tree surgeons did last week when they tried to cut down the trees.

Lloyd fails to address the most important issues, and presumably because he cannot, and that is that the planning application was predetermined by the quashing of the restrictive covenant in October 2012 to facilitate a development for which an application had not yet been submitted and the discussion which took place with the developer before that where the developers was demanding the restrictive covenant be quashed as it would stop their development taking place.

Lloyd has failed to address a related issue of the restrictive covenant which if had not been quashed would have stopped a multimillion pound development, that of it being quashed for a mere £1000.

Lloyd has failed to address the destruction of four local businesses, the Firgrove 4, but then Lloyd has never had an interest in local, family run business. Indeed for more than a decade Lloyd has been pursuing a policy of ethnic cleansing of small, independent, family run businesses from local town centres within the borough, as we have seen in Aldershot and Farnborough.

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One Response to “Firgrove Parade: Rushmoor press release”

  1. keithpp Says:

    To keep up to date, please follow on twitter

    and on facebook

    Warning: @Save_Firgrove on twitter is a spam account operated by a pathetic troll. Please block and report for spam.

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