Keith Parkins | 11.11.2002 14:44
last four years, KPI, a Kuwaiti-financed property company, has
been laying waste to the town centre. The latest plans are to
destroy the entire northern half of the town centre for a
superstore, a small housing estate is to be destroyed for the car
'All the established businesses have gone. The redevelopment,
instead of expanding the town and offering a competitive shopping
experience, slashes over 70 retail units to make way for a
supermarket that already exists in the town ... Do Sainsbury's
really believe that moving a couple of hundred yards from their
current location is going to improve trade?' -- Peter Newman,
Fingz Fashion, Kingsmead, Farnborough
'In 1996 there were five empty units in Queensmead, right now
there are five left. Is that progress? The whole plan is totally
unrealistic. After four years and the destruction of the town
centre, all there is to show for it is the loss of over 70
businesses.' -- Peter Newman, Fingz Fashion, Kingsmead,
Twenty years ago Farnborough had five butchers in the town
centre, now it has none, Farnborough must be one of the few town
centres to lack even a baker.
Nearly five years ago, KPI, a joint venture between St Modwens
and Kuwaiti financiers, bought the town centre. Over the last
four years KPI have systematically emptied the town of retailers.
The old Post Office site is to be redeveloped, a ground floor of
shops, then several floors of flats which tower over adjacent
properties depriving them of light. The development is not
restrained within the footprint of the site and takes valuable
public open space, leaving a narrow alleyway between the town
centre and the local library.
The latest scam of the town centre redevelopment (Farnborough
didn't need redevelopment until KPI laid waste to the town) is to
demolish the entire northern half of the town centre (now mainly
empty retail units since KPI took charge) to make way for a
superstore. The likely candidate is Sainsbury's, although no firm
commitment has been made by Sainsbury.
Adjacent to the town centre lies Firgrove Court, small group of
around 30 maisonettes arranged around a village green, a quiet
little cul-de-sac. Firgrove Court has been earmarked for
demolition to provide a car park for the superstore. The
residents of Firgrove Court have been offered relocation, to a
site that has planning consent for a regional B&Q superstore.
Planning consent for the regional B&Q superstore was recently
granted against the wishes of the residents of Victoria Road.
They will have have to endure the traffic generated by the store,
which will include 24-hour a day lorry deliveries. The planned
superstore for Farnborough town centre will generate yet more
traffic on Victoria Road.
The plans for the destruction of the town centre are to be placed
before the planning committee 7pm Monday night 11 November 2002.
The recommendation to the committee is to approve.
Comments on these plans should be made to Rushmoor head of
planning, Keith Holland
More details of the plans
Farnborough town centre is not an isolated example of the
planning department working with developers to the detriment of
the local community. Recent examples include Farnborough Airport
and Manor Park in Aldershot
Manor Park is important urban open green space in the heart of
Aldershot. Aldershot is already 40% down on its allocation of
open space. The site is home to stag beetles and bats, both of
which are protected species. The planning committee, following
the recommendation of the planners, have recently approved the
site for development by Barratts for a large housing estate. None
of the problems highlighted by AMPLE (local opponents) were on
the agenda placed before the committee.
It therefore comes as no surprise that the local community is
calling for an independent investigation of the planning
department. An investigation that Rushmoor chief executive Andrew
Lloyd has to date refused.
Further coverage of these issues can be found in the newsletters
of Blackwater Valley Environmental Justice. Coverage in the local
press is extremely sparse.