Claire House and James House are two office buildings located at the corner of Bridge Street and opposite the entrance to Minchin Close, overlooking the River Mole. The site benefits from a fantastic south-facing orientation overlooking the river and the town bridge which in turn acts as a gateway to Leatherhead from the south west. The site was marketed for sale and Mole Valley District Council acquired it in 2015 as part of its then emerging strategy to transform Leatherhead town centre. The Transform Leatherhead team recognised that the Claire House and James House site formed a unique opportunity for an exciting high-quality mixed use development, with the potential to unlock an under-utilised area of natural beauty along the riverside and close to the town centre.
In 2016, the Transform Leatherhead Masterplan was formally adopted. The Masterplan identified a number of core areas for significant regeneration within the town centre. One of these areas was identified in the Masterplan as the ‘Riverside Quarter’, comprising the river frontage at the bottom of Bridge Street and the surrounding buildings including Claire House and James House.
Public consultations, market research and expert advice all played an important part in creating the Masterplan vision for Leatherhead town centre:
“Friendly vibrant and lively, Leatherhead is a modern market town where people of all ages can shop, eat, relax and have fun by the riverside”.
Outline planning proposal
The proposal is to demolish the existing outdated Claire House and James House office buildings and replace them with a high quality design building which respects and sits harmoniously with the existing heritage assets.
The redevelopment will provide for a mix of uses that will create a vibrant addition to Leatherhead town centre through the delivery of public realm improvements, increased commercial activity at ground floor, a riverside community facility and much needed new homes on the upper levels including 11 affordable units.
In terms of scheme content, the application proposes:
- 40 residential apartments including 17 one-bedroom, 21 two-bedroom and 2 three-bedroom;
- 77.2sq m high quality retail space on the ground floor which the application asks permission to use for a café
- 96.5sq m community space on the ground floor
- 11 affordable residential units;
- 30 residential car park spaces (including 4 disabled bays)
- Reconfiguration of the existing pay and display car park to re-provide the existing 23 car parking spaces (including 1 disabled bay/car club bay); and
- 46 cycle parking spaces
The key benefits of the development are:
- The creation of a vibrant, mixed use scheme that is an inviting, attractive, high quality addition to Leatherhead town centre;
- Provision of much needed modern residential apartments within a sustainable town centre location;
- Provision of an active and vibrant ground floor frontage overlooking the riverside;
- Creation of a destination riverside leisure offer to complement the existing town centre offer;
- Provision of modern and centrally located community floorspace to be managed by MVDC;
- Enhanced public realm; and
- Improved connectivity and opening up of the riverside.
The proposed development is arranged over 4-6 storeys with the taller 6 storeys along the riverside, stepping down to 5 storeys at the Kingdom Hall end. The building also steps down in scale along the Bridge Street side to 6 and 5 storeys, with it stepping down further to 4 storeys directly adjacent to the Running Horse public house. The stepping creates a varied roofline and reduces the massing of the proposed building when viewed from the conservation area. Although not determined by this outline application, the pitched roof design will create a landmark building unique to Leatherhead town centre.
The outline planning application also includes initial concepts and ideas for the creation of a Riverside Park. The development of the wider Riverside Park will be delivered as a second phase of the Riverside Quarter regeneration, after the Claire House and James House development is completed. However, we demonstrate our commitment to this second phase of the redevelopment of the Riverside Quarter within the outline planning application.
For full details of the application please visit the MVDC Planning Application portal www.molevalley.gov.uk/planningsearch using reference MO/2018/1983.