Talking about regeneration in Surrey's towns
PUBLISHED: 08:42 16 March 2015 | UPDATED: 09:28 16 March 2015
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The times are a changing in towns across Surrey, with expansive plans afoot for redevelopment and regeneration. Here, Matthew Williams casts an eye across a few of the projects expected to have a huge impact on our county
Originally published in Surrey Life magazine February 2015
Over on the western border of our county, Camberley is hoping to gain a place in the nation’s top 100 retail destinations with its Camberley Vision plans. These intend to transform the town’s central precincts, including the A30 London Road block, Park Street, Knoll Road, High Street, The Mall Camberley and parts of Pembroke Broadway. As well as opening up Obelisk Way and introducing a new town square, there are also plans to transform the police station into a new 35-home development alongside the long-vaunted ‘cultural quarter’. A tentative late-2018 date has been set for completion of the full project. It took 23 years for the town’s The Atrium ‘entertainment and living complex’, which opened in 2008, to become a reality, so things are getting there, slowly but surely.
Tired of living in Guildford’s shadow, there are grand plans afoot for Woking. A town that’s home to both the past and future, straddling Surrey History Centre and McLaren, and with a rich heritage that often surprises people who live elsewhere (HG Wells, Brookwood Cemetery, the Shah Jahan Mosque et al), it’s about time the place had a little more love. In autumn, a new covered market opened (between the two shopping centres in what was previously known as Peacock Walk, while Commercial Way continues to welcome new shops and restaurants – including the historic Tante Marie culinary academy, which is co-owned by Gordon Ramsay and now boasts a teaching restaurant. Only last year, the WWF’s multi-million pound headquarters, The Living Planet Centre, opened to the public, just across the Basingstoke Canal from The Lightbox gallery and museum. The “biggest town centre development since the Peacocks Centre”, however, will take place at Victoria Square where three skyscrapers are set to be built (leading to some worries of “Croydonisation”). Moving towards 2020, other plans involve the creation of a new ‘public realm’, which sounds like something HG Wells might have dreamt up.
Envious glances over to neighbouring Weybridge may lessen with £70 million plans afoot for Addlestone town centre, including a 101-bedroom Premier Inn hotel, a supermarket, a range of restaurants and retail outlets, and over 200 homes. Surrounding the Civic Centre, which houses the council, library and police station, the new development will be focused around a multi-screen cinema, as well as the expected collection of restaurants. If things go to plan, the council currently expects the new facilities to reopen in 2017.
Residents of Redhill are already enjoying the benefits of a newly revamped Memorial Park, which reopened following a £1.5 million makeover featuring a new café pavilion, children’s play area in a more central location and a community orchard, among other highlights. It’s the town centre itself, however, that has worried most who live in the area in recent years. A popular commuter base (which has seen massive housing development in the vicinity), this has led to an increasingly affluent population, but there are some who would suggest the entertainment and shopping have rather stagnated in the shadow of neighbouring Reigate in recent years. With an improving economy, previously unoccupied new-build office blocks are finally starting to fill and the former nightclub is being transformed into the Phoenix Plaza homes development in a bid to increase footfall in the town. The long planned regeneration of the Warwick Quadrant is also now moving forward, with the demolition of Lombard House. Expect to see a new Sainsbury’s store, hotel, town centre car park and gym, as well as improvements in the London Road area, soon if proposals come true. Completion is, perhaps optimistically, pencilled in for summer 2016.
The 2011 riots in Croydon, which made headlines around the world, marked a low in what many had seen as an unstoppable downward spiral for a town that actually boasts a rich history. Look close enough and it’s certainly not just the iconic clocktower that’s maintaining the town’s heritage attraction. The South End area, long home to some excellent restaurants, has been officially rebranded as The Restaurant Quarter, and more prominence has been given to the Old Town, which features Croydon Minster, Old Palace School and Surrey Street Pumping Station, as well as three conservation areas. While limited coordinated investment in the Whitgift Centre and surrounding properties since the early 1990s has, according to the council, left the area “tired”, a £1.5 billion Westfield/Hammerson retail scheme is expected to change all that.
Readers’ ideas for our county’s future, shared with us via Twitter...
@Urban_Creations: More shops with their own planters and outdoor displays – more individual look to High Streets and a cheap green fix.
@trufflemcshoe1: I’d like to see (hear) a total ban on flights from 11pm to 7am introduced.
@Peerster: Baker Street, Weybridge to be pedestrianised at weekends to create café culture and stop the rat run. Cultural centre = shoppers
@katybluewater: More fashion shops, wine bars and restaurants in Dorking, please!
• Let us know about the plans you are most excited about for your Surrey towns or villages by contacting us on social media or e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org