Council confesses a year late…

You may have seen the following headline about Camberley in the local paper this week.  It’s been publicised quite widely too:

News and Mail article on overambitious plan

This news will come as no great surprise to our readers.  We were saying the same thing nearly a year ago, in our article titled ‘Camberley – the town that time will forget?’ –

What’s more the news should come as no surprise to the council.  Something like eighteen months ago, the Local Government Association carried out a peer review of our borough council.  About the council’s plans for the town centre it wrote in an internal document:

“The priority of Camberley town centre regeneration is a huge project, which carries a high level of risk. It will need a great deal of advance preparatory work to structure a financial package that the Council can commit to and provide partners with the evidence to ensure they have confidence that the regeneration scheme is viable and will proceed.

It will be important to evidence what options are available to the Council, and what risks have been assessed, if the proposed development falters and/or retail partners pull out. For example, the principal focus to date is of an anchor store underpinning the development. However, discussions with this store have been ongoing for six years and a positive response is still awaited. The timescales for implementation are also ambitious bearing in mind the number of significant interdependencies, which reinforces the point made earlier about improved arrangements for project/programme management.”

As the Eye said in the public meeting last week, there’s no criticism of the council for the fact that the world has changed.  But the council’s failure to be open about the problems it faces (why has it taken a year for the ‘bad news’ to be made public?) is disappointing, to say the least.  It also harms the image of the council.  If information is withheld, residents might suspect that the council is incompetent, or devious, or both.


18 thoughts on “Council confesses a year late…

  1. Identifying business risks and putting mitigation plans in place and then continually refreshing same is not rocket science. Has somebody been asleep on the job?

    • I imagine that the peer review that I quoted was writing in a tactful manner. So, reading between the lines, the author wasn’t impressed by what they’d discovered (the quote wasn’t the whole text, but it was getting a bit long so I didn’t reproduce it all).

  2. ” ….. residents might suspect that the council is incompetent, or devious, or both. ….”

    Yep, seen multiple egs of both in my direct dealings over the years …..

  3. So the plan is now to build more flats and less shops. Camberley had a chance to be a fantastic boutique kind of town, instead is going to be full of drunks and benefits people.

      • Belatedly, Gemma, the council explicitly admits that it isn’t in control. If only it had accepted that earlier, it could have pursued a range of options, and perhaps been less unrealistic in its aims.

  4. That’s what happens when your job is safe & your paid each month they have no idea how to operate in the real world when you have to be professional & honest.

      • As far as I can see our councillors are too comfortable with their positons as well. We need to “bloody their noses” at the next election and bring in a more radical group.

  5. Sadly SHBC fail to consider their obligations to provide open green space, close to high density homes. Papers released by Deputy PMs office define the LA obligation. The greed and need to raise 106 funding is fueling the Camberley race to bottom. The growing number of town centre flats without sufficent parking and limited outside space shames SHBC.

    For example
    The failed Knoll Road master plan. Business Zone turns high density Residential.
    Norwich House (67) homes, Bradley Court (50+), plus the GU153Q group (yet another 60+) have been signed-off without resident infrastructure consideration.

    The impact of Camberley’s nighttime economy is “obligation blindness”, it generates revenue so let us ignore the aggressive High Street Bedlam right in the midst of this new residential zone.

    SHBC continue to show lack of good common sense.
    As suggested before .. Camberley needs Village Green where LRB Blot now stands,.

    • I don’t know what the current statutory requirements are re. provision of parking spaces, Mike. I’m not sure that there are any absolute numbers. But somehow I doubt that SHBC puts any pressure on developers to provide more than the absolute mandatory minimum. And re the LRB, I see no sign that the council has ANY intentions, other than to go along with the Mall’s plans. The Mall will – understandably – only do what’s good for the Mall. (I have some different figures from yours for Norwich House – appearing shortly!)

  6. Does this mean that we aren’t going to be a top 100 town after all?

    But I don’t get it! Weren’t SHBC patting themselves on the back the other month for hitting most of their targets? Was that all hot air?

    • Dominic, there’s a total disconnect between some of SHBC’s targets in its annual plans, and the ‘progress’ recorded in its annual performance review. I’ll be writing to SHBC shortly to point this out – giving examples. Maybe I’ll summarise what I write in an Eye item too. Of course, if you shift the goal posts it’s not too difficult to claim that you’re on-target. But, specifically re a ‘top 100 town’, I have no idea whether this aim is still in play or whether it has formally been abandoned.

  7. Correction to Norwich House above. Should have reflected 57 new Homes. [not 67]

    So with 150 new homes to East [Knoll Rd facade].
    Please consider Camberley Broadway hundreds. Comprising Kings Court, Camberley Care, and Pembroke House will attract well in excess of 200 new homes.

    Then Add SHBC Ashwood House
    Will further help with the shortage of Camberley Flats 😦

    Perhaps an extra 1000 new Town Centre residents.

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