Virginia Water car park sale called off

CONTENTIOUS proposals to develop a village car park have been shelved by Runnymede Borough Council.

The council had hoped to sell off the Bourne car park in Virginia Water and in February last year had been in final negotiations with a preferred bidder. However, following a string of disappointing bids, its corporate management committee opted to cut its losses at a meeting on Thursday January 31 and leave the car park as a regular source of modest income rather than sell at an undesirable price.

The council stated its intention was to reassess the proposal when the market was stronger. Councillor Geoffrey Woodger, planning committee chairman, said after the meeting: “The current economic climate has meant we are not able to get the best price for this site. “It would be prudent of us to continue to receive an income from the car park until the market improves and development on the site is viable.”

A council spokesman said the bids put forward at a recent tendering process for the sale of the site had shown that it was not the right time to sell and to continue with this project would not be in the best interest of the council financially.

Traders in nearby Station Parade and Station Approach had raised concerns over the possibility that a supermarket might be built on the site – an idea raised several times for the village – as they believed the infrastructure would not cope and that it could impact existing businesses.

Businessman Sonny Jafri, owner of The Wine Circle in Station Parade, said of this latest development: “This is definitely good news. “My information is that it was going to remain a car park and that plans to develop a supermarket on the site had been shelved as there were many more logistical problems than had been envisaged. “I had a petition going against the plans and there are pages and pages and pages of people just saying definitely not, we do not want it.

“Every time it comes up, there is hue and cry from the residents saying they don’t want it and how is it going to work?” The car park was first considered for development by the council in 1998. In 2006, the Virginia Water Development Company was given a contract to build a 12,000-square foot supermarket and 80-room hotel plus extra care housing on a wider site that also included the Bourne car park. However, this contract was terminated by the borough in 2010, citing a ‘lack of progress’.