The borough council bought Ashwood House four years ago. It has now published a ‘questionnaire’ on Facebook about the future use of the ground floor:
“Ashwood House on Princess Way – What would you like to see in the former BHS unit?
“As part of the regeneration of Camberley, which has already seen the refurbishment of The Square Camberley, construction of a new leisure centre and High Street improvements works, SHBC is exploring options for the future of the former BHS unit in Princess Way, Camberley as part of the town’s exciting improvements.
“Your answers to the following questions will help us understand your interests and needs as users of the town centre, and will help us identify our priorities moving forward.
“Access the survey on this link. The closing date for the survey is 11 November 2019.
As far as we know, the survey has only been publicised on the internet. Older people may not see it, which is a shame. And it’s a bit puzzling. One suggested use for the empty shop space is “It would also support training initiatives in hospitality.” What does that mean? Also, part of the survey asks people to “rank” various uses; but as far as we can tell, it’s possible to put them all as top priority, or bottom priority. This isn’t ‘ranking’, as we understand it. What’s more, we reckon it’s possible to complete the survey more than once, which can’t be desirable.
To be clear, we’re all in favour of consultations and improved communication between the council and residents. However, we’re a bit wary of a survey which doesn’t ask residents whether they, eg, agree to an increase in council tax or a reduction in services to offset a ‘rent subsidy’ for tenants in the newly-available space. If residents aren’t willing, some desirable but ‘low-profit’ uses will have to be ruled out. Everyone is in favour of lower income tax and more spending on the NHS, but we’re unlikely to have both!