Chrismas Lodge Environmental Community Trust
Chrismas Lodge Care Home, Evelyn Avenue Aldershot
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Britain's smallest Country Park could get even smaller !
11th November 2014 - Letter - Public Exhibition - Chrismas Lodge Proposals, pdf copy.
On Thursday the 27th November Stoll will be holding a public exhibition of their proposals for the former Chrismas Lodge site in Evelyn avenue. The exhibition will be held at the Park Church Hall on Lower Farnham Road, Aldershot, GU11 3RB, from 3pm to 8pm. Parking at the venue is very limited.
"Stoll is the only organisation in the UK offering comprehensive, long-term solutions for Armed Forces Veterans providing social housing where each tenant is given an advice and support package tailored to his or her individual needs in a specially developed scheme, designed to be as tranquil as possible. They will be presenting a development of approximately 34 units and parking within a well-designed and landscaped environment to provide this support whilst utilising a site that has been vacant since 2007". (Actually 2005).
We urge the public, especially those in the Soutmead Road, Evelyn Avenue, Coronation Road, Jubilee Road and Park Road areas of Aldershot to visit the exhibition as it will be their only chance to form their own views of this new development that will affect their area the most, before this development goes to a planning application.
Chrismas Lodge was closed in late 2005 and suffered a suspicious fire in 2007 after which the buildings were demolished on "safety" grounds. The Chrismas Lodge site also encompassed an area of, and entrance to, Brickfields Country Park which with the main Lodge site was to be sold for development thereby massively affecting any future usage of the park, but maximising profits for the then owners Hampshire County Council. Subsequently this requirement was recinded and the park land and access returned to the parks owners Rushmoor Borough Council who then placed a tree preservation order on the whole Chrismas Lodge site. TPO460At, copy. It is currently not known if Stoll have bought the Chrismas Lodge site or are acting as agents or partners of Hampshire County Council.
The return of what was a minor section of the Lodge site had been one of the main points to our overall campaign to protect the site. Ideally the whole site should have been returned to Brickfields park to further add to Aldershot's dwindling stock of Public Open Spaces, but this was not to be. Such areas are desperately needed for offsetting against new housing development as required by the Government, in reality these areas are being built upon with exsiting open spaces being "re-purposed" in an effort to fudge the figures.
25th October 2012 - HCC meeting - "Former Chrismas Lodge Older Persons Home - Outcome of Marketing".
Item 1C on the agenda for the meeting, the decision over the sale of Chrismas Lodge has been classified by HCC as "Confidential", this is their list of reasons. The draft copy of the Executive Decision Record gives approval for the sale to the preferred purchaser as set out in the report.". That aforementioned report, needless to say, is unavailable.
What have HCC got to hide ?, why are they so afraid to let the public know what is going on at Chrismas Lodge ?, what is the "price adjustment", have we actually got value for money on this site or has a developer got it cheap ?. Yet again we have to wait, for reasons of "Confidentiality" - until it is too late for us the public, to do anything about THIER decision, a decision which affects OUR community, a community who pay their wages.
CLECT have campaigned from the outset in January 2006 for the Chrismas Lodge site to be returned to the local community.
In the first instance as a community hub utilising the then very serviceable buildings and current government legislation for the disposal of redundant council stock (Chrismas Lodge - Proposal For Alternative Uses).
Latterly, once the buildings were mysteriously set alight, as an addition to the bordering Brickfields Country Park, showing in the process that this solution could be accomplished at no cost or loss to the council, to the benefit of Aldershot in more open greenspace, and easing of Section 106 conditions thereby helping with planning for the future.
Hampshire County Council have ignored us and others, bumbling on like the unstoppable juggernaut they are. The disposal of Chrismas Lodge could have been a high point for Hampshire County Council showing care and concern for the community, enhancing local greenspace and well being. Over time it has descended into what we initially feared, the selling off of assets, pressing more housing into an already overcrowded region.
10th September 2012 - Aldershot Civic Society's report showing how Chrismas Lodge and the Manor Park playing field could be purchased for the community at no cost to Rushmoor Borough Council from existing and future planning payments. The report is currently unpublished and a member of the Society has been censured.
This reply by email from Councillor Ken Thornber CBE of Hampshire County Council is in response to an email from Johanna Lance of the Aldershot Civic Society regarding their "assessment of issues affecting the future use of the County Council's Chrismas Lodge former Older Persons Home in Aldershot.". It took SIX weeks to produce the reply.
Older news reports for Chrismas Lodge can be found on the News page.
Chrismas Lodge residential care home was closed by Hampshire County Council in November 2005 citing its unsuitability and costs to meet new care standards, since then it has lain empty, a target for graffiti and vandals (see the gallery photos). The site has been confirmed by HCC as no longer meeting their needs and was put up for sale for development, subsequently the buildings of the care home were demolished in February 2008 following an arson attack by local youths. Development on this site will be detrimental to not only the local residents through increased traffic on narrow roads, but also to the wildlife of the site and in the adjoining Brickfields Country Park.
The aim of this website is to ensure the continued use of the Chrismas Lodge site for the local community in a way that supports that community and the wildlife of Brickfields Park together by ensuring all avenues of consultation are explored and examined. The B.E.S.T Report, is our vehicle to promote this discussion about the future of Chrismas Lodge. Should the CHL site eventually be developed our foremost aim is to ensure the strip of land bordering Chrismas Lodge, currently within the Park but owned by Hampshire County Council, is returned to Brickfields Park and not used as part of the development or in lieu of any section 106 requirements for the development. See page four of Freehold for Sale - "Special Condition of Sale", which makes a mockery of the Section 106 payment system which is intended to help the local community. This "Special Condition" imposes on a developer that which Hampshire County Council should do - give us what we already have !.
January 2006 - A chance conversation with a local resident prompted us to ask Rushmoor Borough Council about the closure of Chrismas Lodge, the boundaries and their affect on Brickfields Park. This leads us to the fact that should Chrismas Lodge be sold, the new owners (obviously a developer, but hopefully not) would lay claim to the land as marked in the deeds, not as actually present on the land. (The affected area is coloured blue in the picture below) This means that Brickfields Park would lose a strip of land along the Chrismas Lodge boundary upto 10m wide, across to the Western boundary and then up to the Highfield Gardens / Croft Lane path. "That's not much" you say, actually its one eighth of an acre or space for two houses. Whilst not a large amount of land, Brickfields Park, would lose the Highfield Gardens entrance to the park, depriving residents in the upper Highfield area, the Crown Estate and more, of easy access to their only local natural wildlife habitat. Some, if they want to get to Brickfields Park, would then drive rather than walk - not a good option in today's environmental climate.
This is development by stealth, a fait accompli, without any public consultation or contact with The Friends of Brickfields Park This could be seen as being the thin end of the wedge for Brickfields Park in its possible eventual disposal for even more housing, a terrible loss for the local community. Brickfields Country Park, has in the past won an award for Public Access, now HCC Winchester want to reduce our access !. This shows just how disconnected Winchester is from their local community.
Please support us in our campaign to stop this loss and also spread the word. Contact your local Councilor, your M.P., Hampshire County Council, Rushmoor Borough Council - anybody. Valuable resources like this in Aldershot are being lost, help to save this one !. A full list of contacts for this campaign can be found on the Contacts page.
Chrismas Lodge - Proposal For Alternative Uses
pdf 531Kb, as sent to HCC and RBC.
For previous news reports and articles about the ongoing Chrismas Lodge closure see our News page.
News about this land is hard to come by and Hampshire County Council are keeping their cards well hidden, however we do know that contractors have been on site digging test pits for subsoil analysis and installing water table monitors (see the Gallery page), so development for housing would seem to be the logical conclusion. This has been confirmed by several residents of Evelyn Avenue, as they have been approached by prospective developers to sell their properties and thereby double the area available for development to about 3 acres. Having had one of our wettest winters for many a year, any prospective developers would need to do some very careful homework before venturing their capital into this site.
The site is 1.25 acres, now houses per acre depends on several facts, but this is governed mostly by HCC and any prospective developer wanting to maximise the number of houses on the site and therefore to maximise their profits. This could range from low density at 10 houses (or less) to high density at about 30 houses an acre, between 10 and 36 dwellings on the Chrismas Lode site. Using an approximate average of 16 would give 19 houses for the 1.2 acre site, and given its location it is most likely that all the residents will own a car and a large proportion will have two. For our calculations let's say all have one car, half have two cars, and half have at least one child - that could be over 140 extra vehicle movements a day without even considering tradesmen or visitors. Maximising houses on this old clay digging site filled over the years with whatever was to hand will require extensive piling operations close to or even on the edge of Chrismas Lodge which brings us back to HCC's comment of "wanting to retain control of the slope" - the lower blue section of the map above right.
Very soon after this site was launched it was said that -