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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Kelly

Homebase site Update

I’ve been asked many times on the doorstep in the last few weeks what’s happening with the former Homebase site on New Zealand Avenue. In 2021 the Planning Inspectorate, a Government body, gave permission for 222 retirement flats on the site, overturning Elmbridge Borough Council’s refusal. The Inspectorate did this as they believed there was a need for this development. Elmbridge Council’s view was there was not the demand for more retirement flats in Walton, especially considering some of the newer blocks in Churchfield Road still have vacant flats.

Following the demolition of the Homebase building, the site has remained seemingly untouched. On 28 April, Elmbridge Borough Council validated an application for a Lawful Development Certificate (LDC). Documents submitted in this application show the owner of the site is Senior Living Urban (Walton) Limited. The planning permission given by the Inspector in 2021 stated work must start within two years - i.e. by 21 June 2023 - or the permission expires. This new LDC application seeks confirmation that if some minor works are undertaken then the 2021 permission remains extant. The minor work is described as the “installation of 5 piles” which would take around 7 days to complete. For more information, visit the Elmbridge website and search for application 2023/0903. Walton Society Councillor Chris Sadler has ‘called in’ the LDC application to ensure it is debated and decided by Councillors in public.

Having spoken and voted against this development at the Planning Committee in 2021, I remain disappointed the Council was over-ruled. For many reasons, this was not the right scheme for the site. The work proposed now seems to be doing the bare minimum to keep the planning permission extant having carried out no work since the demolition. Senior Living Urban (Walton) Limited need to publicly clarify their intentions for the site. It’s an eyesore in a key location in our town and rather than using a legal technicality to keep their planning permission active, they should be focusing on tidying the site up and engaging with residents on its future.

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