Another lost opportunity.

A couple of weeks ago we revealed that, in November, the council had quietly abandoned its redevelopment plans for the A30 frontage – the so-called ‘London Road Block’.  The council’s explanation was: “seismic changes in the national development and retail market over the last 18 months meant that the original ideas could no longer be achieved.

We could weep.  ‘Changes in the retail market over the last 18 months’ indeed.  These changes were predictable years ago.  The Eye predicted them.  What follows is extracted from an item which we wrote in March 2016, when we were pondering the glacial progress of the leisure centre redevelopment.  If only the council had taken notice of what we’d written, we’d now have a town centre more appropriate to current  life-styles, and the council wouldn’t have to provide pathetic and unconvincing excuses for why, after some twenty years of no progress, it still has no idea what to do with the London Road Block.

*****

Arena

“Now that the grand plans for redeveloping the London Road Block (LRB) – the northern part of Camberley town centre – seem to be dead, our long-standing urging that the council should have a ‘Plan B’ is even more relevant.  One of the suggestions we’ve made is to put a brand new leisure centre on the LRB.  Redevelop the existing Arena site as flats ……much of the A30 is bordered by flats already, so more flats there should be no big deal.   Importantly, town centres in future will be more about living, leisure and pleasure, and  less about retail.  So putting a new Arena, a few shops, a new car park and some decent flats on the LRB would make sense.

“(We have walked around the current Arena site, and the London Road Block, counting our paces as we go.  We reckon A would fit into B with space to spare!)”

12 thoughts on “Another lost opportunity.

  1. We had a Conservative controlled Council throughout and they were never much concerned with listening to anyone but themselves and throwing money at speculative property deals. You are, and were, right about the wisdom of siting the leisure centre on the LRB and it is a great pity your advice was ignored.

  2. Media reports listed the 10 best places to live in Surrey, based on economy, community etc etc Camberley a “Top100″town in the eyes of S HBC is nowhere. SHBC Conservatives have pretty much destroyed the place.

  3. From Edmond Bain
    HERE WE GO AGAIN.

    Thank you Eye for returning to this issue. You were not alone in questioning whether it was correct to increase exposure to retail. (1) The British Retail Consortium was forecasting in September 2016, at exactly the time that SHBC was completing the acquisition of the Mall, that 900,000 jobs would be lost in retail in the period to 2025 (2) 3% of retail jobs were to be lost in the final quarter of 2016 (3) Charlie Mayfield, the respected Chairman of the John Lewis Group, was indicating the demise of bricks and mortar retailing.

    I understand why the mistakes were made, but referencing these might be interpreted as slanderous but it is time for SHBC to be open with residents and level with them about the scale of the fall out. As I have written previously the warnings were clearly set out in the Peer Group Challenge. Things will never get better until Officers and Councillors engage more widely, listen to others, read and understand what is going on outside the confines of Knoll Road and understand that being involved in a local authority is not a game and that it involves dealing with other people’s money and lives.

    I can just about forgive the Council for the acquisition of the Mall and House of Fraser store but to suggest any element of regeneration is risible but the real failing was to deviate from a sensible approach to introduce a conservative funding structure. The Inquiry into the price paid should have been an Independent Inquiry coupled with a report on the suitability of the funding structure (which unfortunately is very different from the original as presented to residents, and presumably the Councillors at the time that their approval was given).

    Hopefully the Accounts for the year to March 2020 might soon be made available but I expect that earlier years might need to be restated.

    W.E.A.Bain. Chobham.

  4. I like the photo because it shows an old relic and I wonder what happened to it. In the middle there is a Victorian /Edwardian water fountain .. does anyone know if this was relocated in the redevelopment of the site or was it simply, tragically bulldozed ?

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