Representatives from St Martha Parish Council and Chilworth2gether attended an Executive meeting of GBC on Tuesday February 20 when the future of West Lodge was on the agenda.
Selling West Lodge on the open market has always been Guildford Borough Concil’s Asset Department’s preferred route, and unfortunately the combined forces of St Martha Parish Council, the Chilworth Gunpowder Group and Chilworth2gether, in a Working Group formed by the Parish Council, have been unable to come up with a suitable proposal that will meet GBC’s demands for full commercial viability.
Residents in the west of the village will be interested to note that it was their elected Borough Councillor, Councillor Illman, who led the GBC’s recommendation that West Lodge should be sold. Describing the Grade 2 listed building “a bungalow”, and failing to mention the scheduled status of the Gunpowder Mills, Councillor Illman recommended the sale of West Lodge should be presented to the Secretary of State. It transpires that there are covenants applying to West Lodge at the moment that would inhibit its sale, and these need to be removed.
Our other local Councillor, Councillor Billington, also argued that residential use would be the best option for West Lodge, relying on its listed status to protect it from unsuitable development.
Both St Martha Parish Council and Gavin Morgan spoke from the Gallery.
St Martha Parish Council confirmed their regret that restraints placed on the Council by GBC meant that they were unable to come up with a community based solution to secure the future of West Lodge, warning that “once it’s gone, it’s gone” and that the most intact and usable building on the Gunpowder Mills site would be lost for ever.
Gavin Morgan sees West Lodge as another example of GBC seeking to rid itself of many of its cultural and Heritage assets, like the Guildford Museum and the Electric Theatre. He is supportive of further action to find an alternative use, and continues to challenge the Asset Department on its policy.
The St Martha Parish Council working Party will continue to monitor the situation and is likely to make representations to the Secretary of State. It will be closely watching for planning applications, should the sale go through, to ensure that the constraints applied to the Council’s proposal are applied to others consistently.
The two roomed Lodge is valued by GBC at £185,00 with a further £100,00 minimum spend needed to bring it up to basic residential standard. It is Grade 2 listed and subject to other restraints.