Camberley now and then – an update

As has been widely communicated in the last hour or so, the borough council has now acquired Camberley’s Mall.  This – of course – explains why the county council denied recently that IT was buying the Mall.

You can read the council’s statement here: http://www.surreyheath.gov.uk/news/surrey-heath-takes-control-camberley-town-centre-regeneration

What is this likely to mean for Camberley?  As far as the main Mall is concerned, we suspect that there’ll be no major change.  Presumably the council has bought it primarily as a straight financial investment.  So, to us, the more important part of today’s announcement is the reference to “other key town centre acquisitions in the pipeline”.  The council says that it is paying £86 million for the Mall, with around another £25 million for other key town centre acquisitions.  (We think this means further acquisitions rather than any already made.)

As we wrote earlier today, it’s a decade since the council agreed that it could use compulsory purchase to acquire property for regeneration.  Maybe at last – and perhaps via a different route – it’s going to buy the miscellaneous buildings in the London Road Block and redevelop the area.  Let’s hope so.  It’s time to keep fingers crossed!

(A minor thought.  A planning application to redevelop the Working Men’s Club has been in the pipeline – and delayed – for some while.  Maybe this has been affected by the council’s grander scheme;  the club’s redevelopment needs to be part of the bigger picture?  We’ll have a better idea in the next few weeks.)

 

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12 thoughts on “Camberley now and then – an update

  1. I strongly suspect that they will be purchasing the rest of the London Block. With the Mall they already have ownership of part of those buildings, and the old Allders building, with London Block they would complete the set and could finally regenerate it.

    The London Block is a disgrace, Ive seen better looking war zones. It gives Camberley a bad name, as its the face of the town.

    • My view too, Steve. It’ll be interesting to see if the multiple owners of the LRB sell willingly, or whether compulsory purchase will – at long last – be used to buy out any ‘difficult’ land owners.

  2. Just on another note, we need less town centre flats, more quality office space and better shops. The likes of Schuh and boutiques.

    • My betting is on a car park and – largely – more flats. If it’s really creative, the council will include a ‘Discovery Centre’, but I doubt that it’s a firm part of any plans yet.

  3. David,

    I fear for the future. The same people who have shown such terrible lack of vision and urgency now own the commercial heart of our town! I will not be surprised if they manage to ‘sit’ on this asset for another 10 years! And do nothing!!

    I hope I am proved wrong.

    Ian McLaughlin

    • Ian, it’s about time the council stopped referring to the Atrium as a success. It WAS a success – eventually – but it was completed eight or nine years ago. It’s a bit like a new government blaming the government before the last one for the mess that it inherited; too much time has passed for it to carry much weight. So, what’s been achieved since the Atrium? Tricky. It’s easier to point to what hasn’t been achieved. So, if experience is our only guide, it’s hard to be optimistic about the recent announcement. We can but hope. It’s soul-destroying to be negative all the time, but denying evidence would be brainless. (Probably tomorrow I’ll show photos that suggest that the Main Square resurfacing contractors have walked off the site without completing the job.)

  4. At least they are serious about the demolition of the A30 block – the architects started asking for tenders for the demolition work a couple of months ago. Also the council are still trying to persuade John Lewis to create a flagship store on the regenerated A30 – however John Lewis are keen to build on the now decommissioned gas tower site down on the A331 near Sainsburys.

    • In effect, each tax-payer has ‘acquired’ several thousand pounds-worth of debt, as most, if not all, of the money will be borrowed. Let’s hope that the council looks after the property that it’s acquired, so that it has a decent re-sale value, should selling be necessary.

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