Six-storey build­ing at heart of huge plans for old col­lege site

Life­long Ash­ford res­i­dent’s pe­ti­tion signed by nearly 500 so far as she asks: How can in­fra­struc­ture cope?

Staines Informer - - NEWS - Matt Strud­wick

A NEW town square could be built on the for­mer Brook­lands Col­lege site in Ash­ford as part of a 300-plus home de­vel­op­ment.

In­land Homes, un­der the guise of Brook­lands He­lix De­vel­op­ments Ltd, wants to trans­form the cam­pus into 366 homes as a mix­ture of one to six-storey build­ings on the 10-acre site in Church Road.

The ‘elab­o­rately dec­o­rated’ front en­trance door of the col­lege would be kept as a fea­ture for a new mini-park as part of the plans, as well as a new town square in­cor­po­rat­ing shops, and a large pub­lic open space.

A hair and beauty acad­emy build­ing will also be built in the town square, which formed part of the agree­ment when the prop­erty de­vel­oper bought the site from Brook­lands Col­lege last year.

Mark Gilpin, plan­ning di­rec­tor at In­land Homes, said: “The for­mer Brook­lands Col­lege site of­fers an ex­cit­ing op­por­tu­nity to re­ju­ve­nate Ash­ford town cen­tre and pro­vide sig­nif­i­cant ben­e­fits for both res­i­dents and busi­nesses through the de­vel­op­ment of new shops, homes and land­scaped pub­lic spa­ces.

“We are propos­ing to cre­ate a new Ash­ford town square sur­rounded by shops and cafés, pub­licly-ac­ces­si­ble pocket parks, chil­dren’s play ar­eas, land­scaped gar­den spa­ces and a tree-lined boule­vard lead­ing to a new pub­lic open space.

“In­land has been de­lighted by the sup­port we re­ceived at our two well-at­tended pub­lic con­sul­ta­tion events and will con­tinue talk­ing to lo­cal peo­ple about our plans as they move for­wards.”

Life-long Ash­ford res­i­dent Julie Breen is cam­paign­ing against the de­vel­op­ment as she says a six-storey build­ing would ‘not be in keep­ing with the town’.

She says the cur­rent in­fra­struc­ture would not be able to cope, and pointed to North West Sur­rey Clin­i­cal Com­mis­sion­ing Group’s announcement last week of the po­ten­tial clo­sure of the doc­tors’ surgery at Ash­ford Hos­pi­tal. Her pe­ti­tion to ‘stop the six-storey build­ing in Ash­ford’ has al­ready re­ceived back­ing from 489 peo­ple.

“The roads are ap­palling and al­ready fall­ing to bits and you can’t get through the High Street as it is,” said the 42-year-old.

“Ob­vi­ously, put new homes in, but not a six-storey build­ing. Three-storey flats would be quite in keep­ing with the town – some­thing like that. I’m not against progress, but [the de­vel­op­ers] need to re­con­sider what they are putting for­ward for the town.”

Community group Ash­ford on the Map de­clared ear­lier this year that the 13th an­nual Sum­mer Fun Day, held in June, would be its last as it would not be able to use the field be­hind Brook­lands Col­lege while the de­vel­op­ment is un­der con­struc­tion.

Barry Mug­geridge, deputy chair­man of Ash­ford on the Map and chair­man of Ash­ford Pride, said the fun day could be res­ur­rected once work is com­pleted.

“If some­body wants to start it up and carry it on on the site that’s avail­able, then that could be done,” he said.

“But it wouldn’t be un­der the cur­rent com­mit­tee at the mo­ment.” In 2011, a joint in­vest­ment

£200,000 by Spelthorne of Bor­ough Coun­cil and Sur­rey County Coun­cil paid for a new town square and clock in the High Street.

A fur­ther £3,500 was raised by the community to house the town’s Christ­mas tree in the town square af­ter it had been tem­po­rar­ily placed out­side Brook­lands Col­lege.

Mr Mug­geridge said he be­lieves the new de­vel­op­ment would pos­i­tively ben­e­fit Ash­ford, although the ex­tra in­flux of peo­ple would put pres­sure on the doc­tors’ and den­tal surg­eries.

The pro­posed new de­vel­op­ment at the for­mer Brook­lands Col­lege site in Church Road, Ash­ford.

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