On the 25th January 2012 I attended a meeting of North Camp residents, even though I live in the Fox Lane area of Farnborough (some might argue that it’s Cove, almost Hawley)
The most important aspect of that meeting, hosted by Andrew Lloyd, the Chief Executive of Rushmoor Borough Council, was that he said he did not want Farnborough to be another clone town, or words to that effect. As the CEO of this Borough, I expected that to apply to Aldershot too.
Then, on a trip to Aldershot one day, to visit Spinnadisc Records, which was forced to close due to the extortionately high rents, I saw atop a pole in Union Street a banner boasting of all the big names coming to Aldershot’s new Westgate “leisure” development: Morrisons, Nando’s, Toby Carvery, Harvester, Travelodge, Frankie & Bennie’s, Pizza Express, Subway…
Let’s look at those again, shall we? Oh, and let’s add the places around here where we already have these stores…
- Morrison’s (Southwood, Fleet)
- Nando’s (Guildford)
- Toby Carvey* (Frimley)
- Travelodge (Farnborough, Camberley x2, Frimley, Fleet, Guildford, Woking, Bracknell x2)
- Frankie & Benny’s (Bracknell)
- Harvester* (Fleet/Farnborough)
- Pizza Express (Farnham, Camberley)
- Subway (Aldershot, Camberley x2, Fleet, Guildford, Farnborough, Farnham, Bracknell)
*It is interesting to note that Toby Carvery and Harvester both have very similar looking websites which lead me to investigate their ownership and, you guessed it, both are Mitchells & Butler brands, so they’re part of a huge, bland PubCo chain.
So we have the CEO of RBC saying NO to clone towns and yet here we are seeing the construction of… a clone town.
And now, with the Development Control Committee being advised to and sadly going along with the advice GRANT the planning application for Firgrove Parade, Farnborough, so that a Premiere Inn (There are 600 of these in the country already with one in Southwood and another being built in Fleet) and a Beefeater (There are 130 of these bland “restaurants” in the UK, and I don’t recall ever eating at one, let alone being excited about wishing to go and visit a town because it has one) can be built in place of four independent small businesses, I am saddened by how our local council have kowtowed to the wishes of big business.
It also needs to be said that, despite a large number of material considerations being flagged for objection, these were swept aside in last night’s decision and the 1,000 signatories, residents and well-wishers were all ignored so that Bride Hall investments, a property developer with complicated offshore arrangements so that it can minimise its tax obligations (also known as tax avoidance to the tax-paying man and woman on the street), can profit from selling off real estate in OUR town. (They have no interest but to profit from selling off our land, AKA The Tumble Down Dick) Oh, but wait – despite owning and selling land and property in Farnborough valued at millions, Bride Hall made just a few hundred pounds profit in the last tax year – Do you also weep at how on earth they are going to afford their Mayfair Mews address in London?
We’ve been sold down the river.