Swinging (The Wrecking) Balls On Alton East

August 13, 2016





Although the Council seems unsure whether Alton East is to be 'regenerated' or to become a 'decant site', it is certain that the first effects of the regeneration are going to be felt there. The Council has now spoken, and it seems certain that Alton East will be the first part of the Estate to be 'regenerated', although there has never been any consultation on this.


The first mention of a new life for the Alton East Estate was to be found here, at the Preferred [sic] Option [sic] stage of the Masterplan. All very nice - ‘opportunities for renewal’, ‘improved’, ‘high quality shops and new homes’.


By the time of the second mention of the Alton East, in the final Masterplan, some of the gloss had worn off, and that ugly word - ‘decant’ - had made its appearance.


Now we have the announcement of the deed itself, although it’s still hedged around with ‘should be available’, ‘could be used . . . if required’ and a hat-trick of ‘would bes’.


(Just as an aside: notice how the Council spin-doctors choose the most uncomplimentary view of Petersfield Rise possible?)


It’s a pity though that the bright new future of ‘would be’ has a darker side that those who most matter in it all don’t know that much about. You’d think that the Small Steps nursery at Fontley Way, and the AAA convenience store, Heanens the wholesale and retail butchers, and the Alton Community Hall - all of whom will be swept away and plonked onto the land where the Alton Boys Club, closed for years by the Council, stands - would be welcoming their bright new future. Alas ! That is far from the case. Some of these organisations didn’t know about these proposals when the ARW spoke with them last month, and others said they’d been spoken to some time ago, but had heard nothing for literally months.


It’s significant that the WBC pronouncements on the future locations of the commercial organisations - Heanens and AAA at Petersfield Rise - are clear enough in the July 2016 paper (paragraph #36):


the Economic Development Officer and the Assistant Director (Property Services) will engage with business on Petersfield Rise to ensure that these firms are provided with suitable alternative accommodation to enable their businesses to continue to operate with the minimum of disruption and business interruption


and in the regeneration newsletter, which mentions ‘alternative sites on the estate for the services currently based there’. It isn’t at all clear that ‘services’ includes the two retailers.


Potential loss to the Estate then will at the very least be the temporary loss or permanent resiting (where exactly, is anyone’s guess) of the only two shops on the Alton East, and disruption to Small Steps and the Alton Community Hall.


It remains to be seen in the weeks and months to come how this completely unconsulted-on disruption plays out.


Footnote: The July 2016 paper (16-277) and the Roehampton Partnership


The Roehampton Partnership met on 28th June. It is supposedly the Council body leading the ‘regeneration’ and liaising between Roehampton and the Council. The contents of paper 16-277 must have been known to the Partnership’s Chair at the time of that body’s meeting, yet he (the agenda-setter) chose not to mention it, although it “provides an update on the proposed planning strategy for three satellite sites situated on Alton East”, amongst other regeneration-related matters. This paper was presented at two Council committees on 6th and 7th July. The bulk of the paper consisted of update on the ‘procurement process’, and oddly enough, the June meeting contained a report on this matter, but yet not one word on the Alton East decant plans. It is impossible that this omission can have been anything other than deliberate.
















































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