Many readers won’t have missed the on-line furore last weekend about the possible demolition of the Old Thai House Restaurant (formerly Betty Brown Tea Room) on the London Road. The sudden interest is a bit of a surprise, because complete redevelopment of that part of Camberley was first suggested by the borough council – to our knowledge – some sixteen years ago. Outline plans are also published on the council’s website, but in spite of this the prospect had escaped the notice of many people.
Anyway, we have the greatest sympathy with all those directly impacted by the long-standing ‘planning blight’. It’s only a matter of a week or two since a worried affected business-person stopped us in the street to ask what the latest information was. But this ‘human aspect’ is separate from the architectural and historic aspects, and it’s the last two that seem to have generated more heat than light.
We really like the frontage of the restaurant – even though it’s not particularly old (dating from the mid 1920’s), and it’s not part of the original building. So we hope that it can be preserved. But preservation of the building as a whole could be difficult. This is what it – and adjacent buildings – look like from behind. It’s not easy to see how the restaurant, which is roughly in the middle of the photograph, could be successfully separated from its neighbours to allow them to be demolished. Yet it’s unlikely that a good commercial case could be made to protect them as well. Or are we wrong? Perhaps some of those who championed preservation at the weekend could give us their thoughts.