When Guildford Borough Council Asset department announced they intended to sell off West Lodge earlier this year, Chilworth2gether, St Martha Parish Council and the Chilworth Gunpowder Mills Group each wrote a letter of concern to GBC and to our local borough Councillors.
West Lodge is an historic asset, integral to the Gunpowder Mills and situated at the entrance to the site on Blacksmiths Lane. Unfortunately when the rest of the site was recognised as a scheduled ancient monument, West Lodge was not included because it was being used for temporary accommodation at the time. However, it was Listed at Grade II. Selling it off separately would sever it from the rest of the site, and would mean the Gunpowder Mills site would forever lose the only surviving building (with power, water and toilet facilities) on the site able to provide for uses in support and appropriate to the site, as identified in Guildford Borough Council’s own adopted Conservation Management Plan.
Residents may recall that two years ago, Chilworth2gether hosted a well supported public meeting, when villagers came together to suggest how the little building could be used in the future. There was clearly plenty of support for finding a new purpose for the vacant building.
With St Martha Parish Council in the lead, the three organisations have now come together and formed a working group to see whether it might be possible to offer GBC another solution to selling it off. It has already signalled to GBC its intention to provide an alternative way forward, which would give the building a new lease of life and a new purpose, with a strong emphasis on heritage, community and education.