Camberley’s new mall: “No realistic timeframe for.. development”

A few weeks ago, we posted an item saying that the outlook for the redevelopment of Camberley’s ‘London Road Block’ was depressing.

This view seems to be supported by recent events.  The Mall has objected formally to a proposed extension to Farnborough’s Princes Mead, saying – according to the local paper – that “sites in Camberley town centre were more suited for the development”. But the agent for the Farnborough scheme apparently responded “The Mall…[is] formulating a development scheme for [Camberley] town centre.  [However, The Mall’s objection] provides no realistic timeframe for that said development, it does not indicate the quantum and type of floorspace proposed, and it does not indicate the proposed mix of uses.”

Farnborough comments on Mall objectionb

Taking the newspaper report at face value, it could be that The Mall was vague about its plans deliberately.  Indeed, we hope that this was the case, otherwise it appears that the London Road Block redevelopment might still be at an early stage.  It could be a long time coming….

Maybe the borough council should be starting to ask residents what they would like to see as a ‘Plan B’?  Do we now have an opportunity to resolve the nine-year saga of replacing Arena leisure centre? Possibly an opportunity to move and co-locate the library and museum – in a more up-to-date format, of course?  (Knoll Road is turning into a residential road, even thought the borough council didn’t plan it, so it’s no longer such an obvious location for community and commercial facilities).  Flats, shops and a small town square to fill the rest of the London Road Block site.

Town centres are going to be more about leisure and pleasure and less about retail than at present:  why not recognise this and get ahead of the game?


8 thoughts on “Camberley’s new mall: “No realistic timeframe for.. development”

  1. SHBC and its developers are hopeless. The A30 slum frontage has been like it for decades and nothing is likely to change for years to come. The Love Camberley efforts are admirable but the council goons do little to enhance /support these efforts which are often hampered by the retarded SHBC Parking Management delivery.
    The Meadows , Farnboro Gate and soon Waitrose/ J Lewis at Bagshot have all the advantages of attracting shoppers , and undoubtedly benefit from the ineptitude of those involved in trying to resuscitate Camberley.
    Top 100 re having a laugh!!

    • Well, to be fair, the A30 frontage has multiple owners, so there’s an organisational problem in getting it sorted. And it’s difficult to blame a commerecial organisation that’s thinking twice about investing in retail bricks and mortar at this time. Also, the borough council doesn’t have the power to force commercial organisations to re-develop the site. Which having been said, the borough council HAS to make the running; who else is there? Instead, it seems to me that the council has been distracted into borrowing money to ‘upgrade’ Ashwood House – which was empty, but doing very little harm to anyone in that state. I suspect it would have been in the greater interest of the town to borrow to improve the London Road Block instead. The situation is SERIOUS – towns around us are modernising (not just Farnborough Gate but Farnborough itself – which will overtake Camberley without a doubt). Ludicrous claims like ‘Top 100’ certainly don’t help; we need a council with its feet on the ground and fire in its belly. Not one with its head in the clouds.

  2. In reference to this and your post for July, in fairness it seems that the council officially adopted the “Camberley Master Plan” on the 7th of April so it has only been 4 months and the plan itself says the time frame for London Road is “Application 2015, completion 2018”, so there’s still time…

    I’ve literally just bought a flat in the town centre so i’m desperately hoping these sorts of things aren’t just pipe dreams!

    • Simon, I hope you’re right – obviously. But, i) I set out some ‘supporting’ arguments in a little while ago, and ii) my feeling is that there’s sufficient uncertainty to warrant a Plan B, to avoid years’ more stagnation. You might not have come across “POLICY TC20: LONDON ROAD POLICY AREA Within the London Road Policy Area, as shown on the Proposals Map, the Borough Council will encourage comprehensive proposals for mixed use development, incorporating retail, leisure, business or housing uses, together with appropriate car parking and servicing. Proposals will need to: (a) Meet design considerations in accordance with Policy TC4; (b) Contribute to the achievement of environmental and pedestrian improvements to the London Road service road, in accordance with Policies TC2 and Policy TC10; (c) Provide satisfactory arrangements for parking subject to the provisions of Policy TC13; (d) Provide satisfactory servicing arrangements which do not prejudice traffic circulation and servicing to adjoining development; and (e) Contribute to the objectives of Policies TC11 and TC12 and provide for the needs of cyclists and passenger transport. ” That was set out in the Local Plan 2000, and I’ll leave you to decide how much has actually been implemented in the intervening fifteen years.

  3. Plan B is already evolving.
    East of Camberley High Street we are witnessing dramatic Change of Use. [ quietly ] taking place.

    Current “Northern Service road and Access” to the East of the High Street will need a name change to suit it’s new role. Perhaps something like St. George’s Mews.. serving 200+ homes.

    Camberley Town Centre population looks set to double.
    Norwich House, the ex Siemens building at 3 Knoll Road, Benson Beds, and several other flat conversions will drive the shift toward residential focus. The large SHBC building in Knoll Road will likely be surveyed for potential conversion into a luxury Nursing home. 🙂


    • With caution, I’m in favour of the shift to residencial use. Retail isn’t going to grow – certainly not enough to fill the space available – so housing is a necessary alternative. Town centres for people – whatever next! But Bensons for Beds seems to have ground to a halt (I’m virtually certain it no longer has planning permission for redevelopment), and, as far as implementing what’s written in the council’s plans, that large building to which you refer is a rest home already.

  4. On Friday, I received the following response from the council to my e-mail regarding when (and if) the redevelopment will ever happen…

    Dear Miss ……….

    Thank you for your enquiry, the continuing uncertainties around the direction of retailing make this a challenging time it which to bring forward a town centre scheme. Nonetheless, the Council is continuing to work with the major landowner, town centre operators and other partners to bring forward its ideas for Camberley. It is also working with the town centre operators to help bring forward their ideas for improvements and we await further information on the timescale for these works.

    Kind regards

    Mrs J Rickard

    Executive Head – Regulatory

    • Many thanks, Gemma, for your information. I’ve been saying in this blog for quite a while now that it would be a ‘courageous’ decision to invest heavily in retail at the current time. So it’s not surprising that the owners of the Mall now put more emphasis on “car parks, leisure, office, hotel, gym, and latterly residential”. It’s also not a surprise that the original concept for the London Road Block has been set back somewhat. (It’s thought-provoking that today’s newspaper raises the possibility of ‘retirement communities’ being set up in town centres as a much better option that ‘old folks homes’.)
      I wouldn’t criticise the council if its Plan A falls by the wayside. But lack of a Plan B from the outset would be a serious failure. I don’t know when the expression ‘putting all the eggs in one basket’ came into being, but I’m sure that it pre-dates the council’s Area Action Plan!

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