The Chamber has been spearheading a plan to develop the land behind the former Co-op supermarket at 38-40 High Street as a low-cost car park for local traders and their staff. This week, Chamber President Craig McGowan wrote directly to Co-op Chief Executive, Steve Murrells, to ask for his help in moving forward this important initiative.
“Over the last four years, the Haslemere & District Chamber of Trade & Commerce has been seeking to lease the above, currently derelict, site from the Co-op Group to further a project to provide an affordable car parking facility for Haslemere’s low paid workers.
Parking in Haslemere is at a premium and this initiative would bring tangible benefits to the lives of existing employees and workers and help local businesses attract and retain employees. At present, limited parking capacity means that many employees are forced to use residential streets nearby or to take up car parking capacity elsewhere in the town which is sorely needed by people wishing to come into Haslemere to shop.
A new parking facility would transform this derelict site and be of tremendous benefit to the town, which is doing its best to attract people back to the high street in the face of the economic and social impact of the pandemic.
The Chamber is charged with supporting a wide variety of businesses, traders and companies – many of them independent – and we know that additional parking facilities are a key issue for our members. We have been in negotiations with Co-op’s property agents since 2013 and came close to agreeing Heads of Terms in 2016. Unfortunately, over the last four years, negotiations have ground to a halt, despite our best efforts and the site has fallen further into a state of disrepair.
We understand the importance of community work within Co-op’s corporate ethos and note with interest your Co-operate 2022 initiative, specifically the ambition to create and protect community spaces. We believe that this project closely aligns with your ambition. The Chamber’s vision for this new parking facility is as a community asset, helping workers and employees, keeping local businesses trading, and providing services that are much needed and valued in Haslemere.
As we address the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic, are very keen to work with Co-op on this venture, which brings significant opportunities to make a real difference to local residents, workers and the wider community. In addition to the Chamber, Haslemere Town Council, Waverley Borough Council and our local MP, Rt Hon. Jeremy Hunt are all firm supporters of the car park project, recognising the importance of a new facility in the social and economic life of the town.
I hope that this letter has given you a sense of the opportunities presented by this initiative and I would be delighted to brief you and your team in more detail about the Chamber’s ideas and plans for the facility.”
We will keep you all posted as we hear more.