Businesses rail against hotel plan in FarnboroughBy Tim Harris
March 14, 2013
BUSINESSES have hit out at controversial plans for a new Farnborough hotel which could force them out of the town.
The consultation on the plans end next week and if approved, Bride Hall Holdings would demolish a parade of shops and flats at 1 to 5 Firgrove Parade in the town centre, replacing them with a building housing 14 flats and retail units and an 80-bed hotel with a ground floor restaurant and bar.
The London-based firm said the planning application was submitted following ‘extensive’ discussions with Rushmoor Borough Council.
Bride Hall owns the parade premises and can therefore end the contracts it has with businesses in the shops.
Longworth Photographic has been based in Firgrove Parade for more than 50 years, and is one of several businesses that could be forced out.
Debbie Price, who runs Longworth with her husband Tony, said: “If the plans go through then that is it for us. It is really, really sad – it would be very sad if we did have to close.
"It is unfair that this scenario has come about. My husband and I have run this business for a long time. We were quite surprised when we heard about the application, it has come as quite a shock."
Lee Clarke, a director of Edwards Barbers shop, which is also under threat, added: "We are concerned about the application, we would like to stay here as long as possible.
"We weren’t very happy when we heard about the plans, we have spent a lot of our money doing the premises up to make it into a better shop. If this were to go through it would be a waste of our time and effort."
Edwards Barbers has only been active in Farnborough for eight months of a three-year contract. The parade shops are collecting signatures on separate petitions against the plans, which they will combine and submit to the council. The current total of signatures is around 500.
"Hopefully we will be listened to,” added Mrs Price. “I would implore the council to think about the local businesses and think about the local people."
The plans for Firgrove Parade have also been criticised by residents, who have questioned the need for another hotel in the town, raised concerns about loss of character with the demise of ‘thriving’ independent businesses, and highlighted parking capacity as a potential problem.
A planning statement prepared by Pegasus Planning Group said a part six-storey building would house a Beefeater restaurant and bar with an 80-bed Premier Inn.
Nick Desmond, managing director of Bride Hall, described how the Firgrove redevelopment would create around 60 new jobs.
"A quality, modern, mixed-use scheme on Firgrove Parade will strengthen Farnborough town centre and bring many long-term benefits to the town,” he said.
"Our plans are an excellent opportunity to deliver fresh investment into Farnborough town.
"Bringing one of the UK’s most successful hotel and restaurant businesses to Farnborough will only help to strengthen the town centre and further boost the local economy.
"We do appreciate these plans will have an impact on the existing businesses on Firgrove Parade and we will work with those affected to find replacement business accommodation within Farnborough. We want to keep disruption to an absolute minimum.”
The deadline for neighbours’ comments is Wednesday and the borough council is due to make a decision in May.