There are huge development plans in the pipeline for Egham town centre. For the past few years, Egham been set for a 70 million pound investment, and recently Runnymede Borough Council have released plans confirming the start of the new project.
In 2014 the BBC wrote an article on ‘The Egham Town Centre Team’ who were set with the intentions to ‘strengthen community pride’ by building on the town’s heritage, location and education. This team included representatives from Runnymede Borough Council, the chamber of commerce, Royal Holloway University of London and Strode’s College.
The first signs of development were seen in January 2015 as a new Waitrose Supermarket, a Travel Lodge Hotel and an underground basement car park were opened. Now the plans are extending to Station Road, and at the end of November 2016 many store owners were told that they would have to leave in six months’ time for the new developments to begin. Runnymede Borough Council have reportedly been in discussions with a developer to build a new theatre, and four-storey block of flats – these will replace the 13 outlets they are planning to close. The shops and businesses under threat include the supermarket Budgens, Oxfam charity shop, and Lumins beauty salon.
The new lease agreements from the council are demanding many Egham shop owners – some of who have spent hundreds of thousands of pounds refurbishing their outlets in the last few months – to leave by June ahead of the town centre redevelopment.
This is a shock to many residents, including ‘Floor by Design’ owner Terrence Reeves, who has spent half his life savings on refurbishing flood-damaged ceilings and £60,000 new windows in the last year. He has claimed that he was told by a management agent he would have a minimum of two-and-half-years at the site before signing a £30,000 a year lease with the borough council. Mr. Reeves, whose wife of 17 years, Jane, died two years ago from a rare autoimmune disease, said he has put his heart and soul into the shop.
“I haven’t even been here a year and have spent money in order to open,” he said.
GK’s Barbershop owner Gungor Kaplam, 33, has spent almost £55,000 in order to open a second shop in Station Road since signing the lease nine months ago.
The borough council has said it has communicated, and acted fairly with all leaseholders in the area.
They stated that all business owners in the area were instructed to take legal advice before signing any new leases, and advised on ‘the likely impact of regeneration in the foreseeable future’.
The borough council said it is finalising the plans for the regeneration in Egham, and expects to announce further details in the next few weeks. A spokesman for the borough added that “the council has offered considerable flexibility in dealing with the notice period for the termination of the leases, which is well beyond the prior agreed legal requirements”.
Although this is going to have a massive impact on many existing business owners, and members of the community, the regeneration of Egham town centre is a really exciting part of the Runnymede Regeneration Programme, and the public and businesses alike will definitely benefit from the changes over the coming years.