Centre development proposal another 'nail in the coffin' for Surrey town

Hersham Centre proposal Cgi (Credit: Quadrant in Elmbridge Council documents)Hersham Centre proposal Cgi (Credit: Quadrant in Elmbridge Council documents)
Hersham Centre proposal Cgi (Credit: Quadrant in Elmbridge Council documents)
Locals fear that the Hersham centre development is “another nail in the coffin” as loss of car parking, reduced independent shops and six-storey buildings will change the village’s character.

Visitors and residents could see a reduction of 97 car park bays from the current 224 which includes both Waitrose customer car park and the council-run New Berry Lane site. Only 127 spaces, including six Blue Badge bays, will be available for visitors and residents.

Elmbridge Council has not agreed to sell the car park, nor are the developers, Quadrant, in negotiations to buy it. The pay and display car park has also been allocated in the draft Local Plan for residential development for more housing units.

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Campaigners have launched a petition in a bid to ‘save Hersham car park’, receiving nearly 2,100 signatures at the time of writing. Losing nearly 100 car parking spaces, locals are worried it would restrict their access to local shops, as well as deterring visitors, causing the independent high street to struggle.

Hersham Green Shopping Centre. From Google Street ViewHersham Green Shopping Centre. From Google Street View
Hersham Green Shopping Centre. From Google Street View

Demolition of five commercial units on the southside of the development will be used to create space for parking. Sites for demolition include: Walton Bathrooms, Focus Dry Cleaning, Moore by Design, Aura Fey and Hersham Pharmacy.

The existing shopping centre and Waitrose food store will be retained and refurbished alongside ten retail units. Local businesses currently occupy 14 of the 15 commercial units available in the centre. Discussions with the retailers about remaining in the centre are already taking place, with the developers stating it “expects” to have space.

Planning documents claim reconfiguring the car park will enhance pedestrian accessibility and experience with natural planting around the site. New cycle spaces and electric vehicle charging points will also be available to encourage sustainable travel.

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Access will be closed off to the site from New Berry Lane for vehicles, restricting transport to Burhill Primary School and the retirement housing accommodation present at the end of the road. Molesey Road is proposed to be the main vehicle access to the site.

Around 600 pupils attend the school, with hundreds of children and parents using the road to get to school. One objector, who owns a local business, said it will become “dangerous” and “certainly contribute to worse childhood health”.

Building on the current Waitrose car park, 109 senior living apartments will be provided on the site. Forecasting 167 people living in the block, only 54 spaces have been set aside for residential parking.

Forming a ‘Z-shaped’ between two blocks, the over-65s residential developments feature an internal courtyard space with a shared garden. Proposed designs show the six-storey block will be pushed back to reveal layered cake development, getting narrower towards the top, to prevent ‘overbearing’.

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Delivering new housing in the borough, planning documents state the development will “allow the release of larger family homes back into the borough’s residential market”. But objectors claim there is an “oversupply” of housing for elderly residents and the size and height of the development “ruin” the character of the small village.

A decision for the proposal is set for June 18, with comments welcomed until April 26.

Planning statement: https://edocs.elmbridge.gov.uk/IAM/IAMCache/4443266/4443266.pdf

Design and Acess Statement: https://edocs.elmbridge.gov.uk/IAM/IAMCache/4444402/4444402.pdf