You’ll be familiar with Ashwood House – the empty office block which houses the row of shops including the former BHS and the post office. The building was acquired by the borough council during 2015, or maybe late 2014, with the intention of converting the office space into flats. The purchase was funded by borrowed money; in its loan application the council said: “Refurbishment could take place 2014-2015”
Fast forward…. In mid-2016, the council advertised for a developer to carry out the conversion (and also convert the derelict Pembroke House building that’s near to the county council’s ‘tip’) into flats. At that time, the agent acting for the council said “The landowner, Surrey Heath Borough Council, is seeking to submit a detailed planning application [for Ashwood House] in late Autumn 2016” But autumn came and went.
Finally, last summer’s Heathscene – issued to households in the borough – said “A planning application will be submitted later this year”. But that was last year – and it’s now February….
So the scheme is running late. Which is a bit ironic, as the newspapers tend to blame the current housing shortage on developers who don’t act promptly after receiving planning approval. There’s little mention of councils who own empty buildings, but who don’t submit planning applications for them when they say they will!