7 empty shops in Holly Parade on the High Street have been empty since January 2016, you will have noticed the loss of parking spaces that were behind the shops.
We have received many questions about parking, closed shops, what is going on and the time taken to 'sort it out' - not necessarily in that order.
A flurry of publicity about proposals for the site and some local meetings to outline and potentally 'reshape' those proposals, may have answered those questions for you.
However, I would like to fill in some details, let you know what the Chamber of Commerce has been doing about the site and, most importantly, encourage you to express your own views to the planning authority - whether supportive of what has been proposed, or against the plans, or even just to make observations and comments.
The more local opinion that is put before Elmbridge BC Planners, the more likely the outcome will reflect local opinion.
Since January, the Chamber of Commerce has been talking to the freeholder's [Standard Life] representatives and the potential developers to confirm their plans for Holly Parade as an important part of our High Street.
There was potential for the site to be turned into only one or two retail units on the ground floor, replacing the existing 7 smaller units, which would be attractive to a 'national' and M&S was mentioned - as was Tesco's ['Metro']; also, larger non food shops might be interested.
Many people might support this type of develoment for Cobham, but the loss of smaller units that are usually local independent shops, would mean a different feel for Cobham, with less diversity and looser connection to the Cobham community. In times of economic difficulty, local independent shops are more likely to be resilient and less likely to 'cut and run' leaving empty stores.
Also, for community local events, we get good support from independent shops and businesses for Christmas Lights and celebration flags [Remembrance Day, Heritage Day, etc.], Butvery few 'nationals' or larger stores offer any financial support or contribution to local events. In fact, in most cases we cant even identify the right person to contact at national chains.
We believe it is fortunate that a local firm of developers - Levanter - developed proposals for Holly Parade. We have had several meetings with the two principal owners of Levanter, who themselves have lived in the Cobham area for over 50 years between them.
This is an important point, since we are not facing proposals from distant financiers who have no personal 'stake' in our local environment, although it does not necessarily mean that everyone will agree with what they propose or how it appears! Nonetheless, their proposals are attached and we were equally pleased to note that they took community views and interests 'on board' and include 5 retail units rahter than 1 or 2.
Please look at their proposals in detail and consider your own view on them - and make this known to Elmbridge. The formal date for expressing your views was 9th September 2016, but this is likely to go to the Planning Committee, in which case all expressions submitted before the committee date will be included.
The detailed plans can be found at www.elmbridge.gov.uk/planning/find-application/ under planning ref: 2016/2185 or use this link to go direct to the planning application http://bit.ly/2bDlJxm
You can email
or write to The Planning Officer, Elmbridge Borough Council, Civic Centre, High Street, Esher, KT10 9SD quoting the planning reference shown above and most importantly your Name and Address.
Separately, we were keen for the developers to make use of the premises in the run up to re-development and the units are now being made available for 'pop up' shops to use for 3 months or so over the christmas period - there are already discussions with various shops to take up the opportunity, which will be a welcome sight for a few months to see the shops re-opening.
In the period before demolition work we are also discussing the option to use the car parking spaces, on a temporary basis, and when we have more news on this we will be pleased to let you know.
In the meantime, have a great autumn!
Cobham Chamnber of Commerce