NEW owners of The Woolmead, The Berkeley Group, will unveil fresh plans for Farnham’s great unloved shopping precinct next week - including an expected uplift in the number of flats proposed from 96 to 141.

The Berkeley Group, which acquired The Woolmead from Friends Life Ltd earlier this year, will hold two public exhibitions at the 40 Degreez youth centre in Dogflud Way; on Thursday, November 16, (5pm to 8pm) and Saturday, November 18 (10am to 1pm).

It comes after the last of The Woolmead tenants moved out to make way for the re-development, including Alton Sports which opened its new store at the corner of Castle Street and The Borough on Wednesday.

Friends Life Ltd was granted outline planning consent to demolish the existing Woolmead building and replace it with a new mix of shops, restaurants and up to 96 flats in July last year following extensive public consultation.

However, after pre-application discussions with Waverley Borough Council, The Berkeley Group ( is now expected to submit its own planning application before the end of the year.

This is expected to retain the proposed 4,000 square feet of ground floor retail space and basement car park, but incorporate a dramatic increase in the number of flats proposed to 141.

To achieve this, David Gilchrist, The Berkeley Group’s development director, confirmed in a meeting with the Farnham Society that the developer would be pursuing smaller one to three-bedroom dwellings, to be sold at a “lower price point”.

He said the new plans consist mostly of red brick and render, roofs slate and tile across “predominantly” two to three storeys, and will “integrate” with Waverley Borough Council’s Brightwells scheme opposite.

Mr Gilchrist also criticised the “anonymous architecture” of the existing building and added the developer “wants to build a development worthy of the important position in the town”.