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GBC Committee Debates Uncertain Future of Shawfield Day Centre Site

Published on: 23 May, 2022
Updated on: 24 May, 2022

The Shawfield Centre, Ash

By Emily Coady-Stemp

local democracy reporter

Councillors considering the future of the site of the former Shawfield Day Centre in Ash have been warned they must avoid building up the hopes of the community regarding its use.

Possibilities include the building of approximately 12 affordable houses on the site – although one councillor said the Ash and Tongham area had seen enough new housing and was in need of infrastructure. Another suggestion is for the site to have a community use.

The future of the site was discussed at a meeting of Guildford Borough Council’s Service Delivery Executive Advisory Board on Thursday night (May 19).

The centre, which has been closed for the last two years because of the coronavirus pandemic, was permanently shut down when a decision was made to move the Shawfield day care services to The Hive in Park Barn, Guildford.

See: It’s Confirmed – Budget Cutbacks Mean Ash Day Centre For Elderly People Will Close

The controversial closure was part of a programme of cutbacks to save money and help the council balance its budget.

Cllr Fiona White

The advisory board meets to hear councillors’ initial thoughts on proposed projects, with the decisions forming part of the council’s savings plan as it faces “a substantial projected budget deficit over the next four years”.

Addressing the possibility of the site being used for homes, Cllr Fiona White (Lib Dem, Westborough) said the area had seen enough housing and “very little” infrastructure. Ash and Tongham were getting “all the people and none of the services”.

She said there was a need across the borough for daycare and respite facilities for people with dementia and thought the site should be used for that.

Cllr George Potter

Cllr George Potter (Lib Dem, Burpham) said the starting point should be a conversation with the community on the future use of the site, as far as the council’s budget would allow.

The Deputy Leader of the council and lead councillor for community and housing, Cllr Julia McShane (Lib Dem, Westborough), warned against building up expectations in any public consultation.

Cllr Julia McShane

She said: “There’s a caveat to involving the community in that way because we don’t want to build people up and then say that can’t happen.”

Cllr Tim Anderson (Residents for Guildford and Villages, Clandon & Horsley) said the number of people with dementia was rising and he recognised the need for highly trained people, having been through it with his own brother.

He highlighted the need to make a quick decision on the building’s future, saying the borough council had many properties and was “asset-rich”.

Cllr Tim Anderson

He added: “We have an extraordinary amount of properties across the borough and a lot of them are in pristine condition and giving us a great return.

“Then we have so many where somehow we have put them into the corner and forgotten about them. We mustn’t allow that to happen to Shawfield.”

Cllr McShane thanked councillors for their comments on what was “obviously a sensitive issue”.

During their presentation, council officers identified a “charge” on the site’s title requiring the site to be used primarily as a day centre. They said this introduced legal complexities and potential costs that would need to be overcome if there was to be a change of use.

See also: Closing Shawfield Day Centre is a Disgrace

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