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Letter: We Must Help The Council Manage Our Heritage Assets

Published on: 31 Mar, 2019
Updated on: 4 Apr, 2019

From Gavin Morgan

Founder of the Guildford Heritage Forum

The leader of Guildford Borough Council, Paul Spooner says the council will help Guildford Chiropractic Centre in its search for a location whilst also returning Burchatt’s Farm to public use. I am absolutely delighted. We must all put aside differences and sort this out.

But let’s be clear. This is not the case of the “poor” council skilfully mediating between disagreeing parts of the community. This problem was caused by our elected council and we need its help to find the solution.

The council put the rent up at Burchatt’s Farm. The council used the resulting decline in use as an excuse to put it in the market. The council offered a lease to Guildford Chiropractic Centre. The council then announced that this “proposal would result in the loss of community use contrary to para 92 of the NPPF 2019”.

Clearly different parts of the council are rowing in different directions ranging from Asset Management to Planning.

And it is not just Burchatt’s Farm. Over the last four years, I have been involved with Guildford Museum, West Lodge, Wanborough Barn and the Chantries Campsite.

The common link appears to be that they all come under the Asset Management Department. It has an important job managing a multi-million-pound property portfolio and obviously does not want to care for a few community and heritage assets that are not of great financial value.

We must help it out. I propose the following and will be contacting Cllr Spooner and other interest parties to take the matter forward

  • We need a strategy that recognises sites of cultural and historic value
  • Such sites should be ring-fenced and protected from disposal and we should apply for ACV [Asset of Community Value] status (where it does not exist)
  • Priority should be given to managing these sites in a way that maximises their community value whilst making them as financially viable as possible
  • Interested parties on the council and across the public arena must share their expertise and work together

 

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