GBC Planning committee unanimously votes yes for West Lodge Plans

The two planning applications for West Lodge, brought by St Martha Parish Council, have been passed unanimously by the whole planning committee of Guildford Borough Council.  The Planning meeting was held on-line tonight – Wednesday Feb 3.

Borough Councillors were fulsome in their praise of the new role for West Lodge, at the entrance to the Gunpowder Mills.  Rather than what one councillor described as an unsuitable designation of the building as a residential unit, the Council agreed that a change of use for West lodge, so that it could be used for a variety of community uses, was far more appropriate.

Despite resistance from previous Councils, the recently elected GBC Councillors fully backed the Parish Council, who have argued that its proposal for the building will retain the link between the Lodge and the historic Gunpowder Mills, and give it a new life.  Further, Councillors in the meeting described the Lodge as providing a strong focal point for a very significant historical site in the Borough.

Councillor Tim Anderson referred to an informative tour he had undertaken of the site (along with other locally elected Councillors).  This tour, ahead of the planning application, was led by Andrew Norris, who also spoke on the night in support of the applications, and who has provided information and background to officers and elected Councillors over the last few months as they considered the proposal.

There is now big decision to be made by the Parish Council, as to whether it can take on the lease on the building that is being offered to them by GBC.  The building will need refurbishing and re-purposing, and a car park will need to be constructed, and for this the Parish Council will be relying on Grants.  Currently, all grant aid is suspended, as funds are diverted to support Covid affected projects.  But it is hoped that it will be possible to make applications in due course so the vision can be realised.

West Lodge Planning application explained

St Martha Parish Council is pleased to be able to announce that it has put in an application to the Planning Department of GBC, as part of its bid to save West Lodge from sale and development.  This is following full village consultation events in the Village Hall in 2014 and 2016.

The notification, that the Parish Council has made an application for Change of Use, appears on the green gates by West Lodge on Blacksmith Lane.

West Lodge is currently classified as a dwelling, as it was formerly used to house council workers.  The Parish Council, with support from Chilworth2gether and the Friends of the Gunpowder Mills Group, is now asking for this to be changed, so that it could be used for a variety of low-key community and educational uses.

The aim, if it can be leased by the Parish Council, is to ensure West Lodge has a new purpose and will cover its costs.  This is the first step to secure its future, and make sure it remains intrgral to the Gunpowder Mills site.  The application is currently with the Planning Department of GBC and can be accessed by searching West Lodge.

PS  This application has nothing to do with the company PAYE who are a specialist company currently undertaking work in the Gunpowder Mills.  They are temporarily using West Lodge as a base whilst works are in progress.