Fringe Box



Burchatts Farm Barn Finally Leased After Successful Planning Appeal

Published on: 9 Apr, 2020
Updated on: 11 Apr, 2020

After years of uncertainty, political controversy and a successful planning appeal against Guildford Borough Council (GBC), Burchatts Farm Barn is finally to be let to the Guildford Chiropractic Centre.

Burchatts Barn (photo Mandy Millyard).

The proposal to let the Grade II listed barn to a private company had been vigorously opposed by councillors against the recommendations of council officers.

Annie Hehir, co-owner of the Guildford Chiropractic Centre, which has been operating in Guildford for over 65 years, said: “All of the team here feel really privileged to have the opportunity to call this amazing space our new home.

“We would like to say thank you to everyone who helped us during this process and we can’t wait to welcome patients and visitors to the new clinic at Burchatts Farm Barn sometime later this year.”

Cllr Paul Spooner.

The leader of the Conservative group on Guildford Borough Council, Paul Spooner (Ash South & Tongham), said: “Whilst I personally view this as a very sensible decision, as I did a year ago, I find it extraordinary given the way that Conservatives were attacked by members of R4GV, especially Mr Redpath, prior to the election in May 2019.

“How things change when Mr Redpath’s party [R4GV] is sharing power at GBC.”

Cllr Joss Bigmore.

Joss Bigmore (Holy Trinity, R4GV), who signed off the lease in his role as lead councillor for Finance and Assets, said: “I think this is one of those situations where no one has come away feeling good about the result.

“It is the strong view of my group and many in the community that assets like Burchatts Farm Barn should be retained for traditional community use.

“Our decision was guided by three factors. Firstly, given the decision at [the] planning appeal. Secondly, we have found a permanent home for the Guildford Shakespeare Company at the Green Ark. Finally, Guildford Chiropractic Centre were very constructive when we asked for special conditions in the lease to reflect the unique nature of the building (such as opening on Heritage Days) and also the ease at which we could return the barn to traditional community use at the end of the lease.

“I am confident that they will be a great tenant and look after this listed building properly in the years to come and I wish their business every success. I am sure Annie and Philip Hehir feel very bruised by this whole saga, and I’m sure Cllr Spooner feels hard done by given an R4GV councillor has ultimately approved a lease we fought so hard against.”

Cllr John Redpath.

John Redpath (Holy Trinity, R4GV), said: “Obviously this is not the best outcome for residents but it’s the most sensible. The barn will be released in 10 years’ time when there will be an opportunity for it to return to community use.  So we are playing the long game and will be putting in place protection to help prevent it from being commercially let in the future.”

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Responses to Burchatts Farm Barn Finally Leased After Successful Planning Appeal

  1. John Perkins Reply

    April 9, 2020 at 2:56 pm

    Cllr. Spooner sneers at Mr Redpath for the change in his attitude since the election.

    Once the government inspector had allowed the appeal, on the basis that a local business could be classed as a community resource, the only other option open to the council was an expensive and probably futile Judicial Review. Cllr Spooner well knows that.

    Not everyone accepts his view that R4GV is sharing power at GBC. His own rump ensured that the Lib Dems control it and, in return, appears to have far more influence than it might reasonably expect.

  2. Jim Allen Reply

    April 10, 2020 at 1:30 am

    Just another mess caused by the past leadership.

    Will the next mess be to clear up how the over capacity water works won’t be moved because it will take 10 years to move it, and we need the additional capacity now to meet current demand?

  3. Peter Knight Reply

    April 11, 2020 at 8:22 am

    This is no doubt the best outcome for residents, perhaps not the best outcome for R4GV who have behaved appallingly throughout this whole process. Guildford taxpayers expect the council to be commercial in its activities and making this a community asset, when we have so many was simply the incorrect thing to do.

    R4GV (Residents for Guildford and Villages) may be deluded enough to think that they can play the long game here but I’m not sure the people of Guildford are likely to tolerate them a second term.

    A series of failed promises (which actually is a good thing bearing in mind their manifesto was so unrealistic and out of touch), their failure to turn around the Local Plan (which they promised to do), the Walnut Tree Bridge saga, where they changed their minds yet again, and now this?

    Time is running out to blame the previous administration as this council will soon be a year in. It won’t be long before this lot start canvassing at front doors with absolutely nothing to put on their flyers as they’ll have achieved nothing.

    • John Perkins Reply

      April 11, 2020 at 12:43 pm

      Although some councillors might like to think of themselves as businessmen, taxpayers do not expect councils to be commercial; they expect them to do what they are paid to do, which is run community services sensibly and for a reasonable price.

      Those who want to play at entrepreneur should use their own money.

      The barn was not made a community asset by the council – it was one and no longer is.

  4. David Smith Reply

    April 11, 2020 at 11:24 pm

    I actually (as a taxpayer) would like to think the council are being commercial with the assets they manage. After all, without generating income, how can they be expected to “run community services sensibly and for a reasonable price”?

    I think you’ll find most councils are looking to increase income streams from the assets they own. This isn’t playing at being an entrepreneur – its basic business.

    As for Burchatts Farm Barn, I had never heard of it until this whole sorry saga started. I am also sure that the majority of tax payers have never heard of it either nor would benefit from it being listed as a community asset.

    • John Perkins Reply

      April 12, 2020 at 11:49 am

      Councils don’t really own anything – as David says they manage assets on behalf of the owners, residents and taxpayers.

      If they’re increasing their income streams from those assets, then why did they raise the hire cost of the barn to at least double the going rate for equivalent venues?

      It’s not sound business practice to price your goods out of the market.

      That is, of course, the difference between a business and a bureaucracy. The former has to market itself against competition, while the latter can, and does, charge what it likes.

      I’d never heard of Guildford Cathedral until I first came here, but that doesn’t mean it served no purpose.

  5. Peta Malthouse Reply

    April 12, 2020 at 4:39 pm

    I am still struggling with the idea that somehow a planning decision interferes with the totally separate decision made by the council to lease out a community asset.

    Just because a venue can now charge a higher price in a larger market does not mean the asset has to be let commercially.

    I am frankly fed up with the Tory party view that assets purchased with our tax money should somehow be flogged off to improve the income stream and that goes for gifted assets as well.

    The question they should have asked themselves was, “What was the purpose or intention of the original gift?’ not “How can I get round this one?”

    • Jim Allen Reply

      April 14, 2020 at 9:00 am

      It would be good to know who decided the charges for the hire of the venue and who was responsible for failing to advertise it at a reasonable rate. These decisions have caused so much division in the community.

      Council officers and elected officials are meant to build community cohesion not destroy it.

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