BERKELEY Homes has set out plans to cut the total number of car parking spaces at the new Woolmead development “by half”, blaming a drastic cut in the value of the scheme’s retail element.
The Herald understands the developer told Waverley Borough Council executive members during a behind closed doors meeting last week that its retail scheme has dropped in value from £14 million to just £10m in recent years.
As a result, Berkeley Homes has presented two options to the council: to delay the scheme indefinitely until the retail market recovers, or seek to improve the viability of the scheme.
Setting out the latter as its preferred option to council chiefs on October 1, the developer reportedly proposed reducing the size of the basement car park “by half”.
This would see the car parking provision for all but 20 per cent of The Woolmead’s one-bed flats removed, with its two and three-bed apartments also retaining spaces.
Berkeley has suggested the change is “in line” with a trend away from car ownership.
But the Herald understands councillors have expressed concern this change could displace cars to surrounding roads and the (free) Farnham Hospital car park.
And these fears are shared by the Friends of Farnham Hospital, whose former chairman Diana Martin told the Herald the hospital already has a problem with station commuters taking up spaces intended for staff and patients.
Responding, a Berkeley Homes spokesperson said the amendments would “enable the development to be delivered”, adding it would put in place measures to mitigate the reduction in parking.
“Berkeley will commit to providing 70 per cent of the parking spaces as electric vehicle charging spaces and providing the infrastructure for car charging for the remaining 30 per cent of the spaces,” the Berkeley spokesperson continued.
“In addition, an electric car club vehicle for the residents of the development will be provided, in addition to the two cars that have already been committed to the Farnham Car Club.
“The majority of apartments at the Woolmead will be studios and one-beds which we anticipate will be purchased by first-time buyers and young professionals. In line with the noticeable trend in the younger generation away from owning and using cars, we do not expect these purchasers will require car parking.
“Nonetheless, in order to ensure we are not displacing parking, purchasers at the Woolmead development will be prevented from applying for parking permits in the surrounding residential areas.”
Berkeley hopes to submit a revised application later this month.