Virginia Water car park redevelopment fears

FRUSTRATED villagers claim their council has left them in the dark over its plans to redevelop a car park. Proposals for the Bourne car park, in Virginia Water, look closer to completion after Runnymede Borough Council acknowledged it was in final negotiations with a bidder.

Businessman Sonny Jafri, who owns The Wine Circle restaurant in Station Parade, said villagers felt uncertain about what was going on, and called plans to build a supermarket on the site “nuts”, stating that the village’s infrastructure would not cope. He said: “Our fear, and there are growing fears among the villagers, is the lack of communication with us that the council promised when it last put this proposal forward.

“We fear a public consultation will just involve a leaflet drop or a presentation and then it will just push it through.

“We want clarity now. Why is this being kept from us?”

James Wyatt, of Barton Wyatt estate agents in Christchurch Road, said: “The council has been very cagey about plans for the Bourne car park. “It isn’t so long ago that it denied to me it had any plans for it at all, despite me knowing who the council was talking to.”

The car park was first considered for development by the borough council in 1998. However, a contract agreed eight years later for the Virginia Water Development Company to build a 12,000sq-ft supermarket, an 80-room hotel, extra care housing, a health centre and underground car park, was terminated by the borough council in June 2010 due to a “lack of progress”.

Residents who feared it would have scarred the village were at the time relieved. The council’s chief executive, Paul Turrell, confirmed the authority was now in final negotiations with an unnamed bidder. He said: “We do now have a preferred bidder but as such, no deal has been concluded. “As part of the deal and discussion that was made by the corporate management committee, it must go out and conduct a satisfactory public consultation exercise.”

Speaking of timescales, Mr Turrell added: “We’re working pretty quickly at the moment so I would hope to bring it to a conclusion in about four weeks but that is if it is agreed in the first place.” Local sources believe the new development, if approved, will be a mini-supermarket. Mr Turrell added: “The Virginia Water Development Company project was much more ambitious. This is a more scaled-down development proposal.”