Revealed: Plans for retirement living development at Manns of Cranleigh

Revealed: Plans for retirement living development at Manns of Cranleigh

Churchill Retirement Living has submitted a planning application for a new retirement living development in Cranleigh, to provide apartments specially designed for the over 60s.

The proposal comprises 38 one and two bedroom apartments specifically designed for local people who want to carry on living independently as they get older but with the safety, support and social life that comes with living in a retirement living community.

The proposed site is located to the rear of the former Manns of Cranleigh department store and comprises buildings previously used to service the former department store.

Churchill’s proposals would bring these vacant service buildings to the rear of the former Manns department store into beneficial use, creating new homes and in turn ensuring that the historical shop units and coffee shop fronting the High Street would be retained and used in the future for new High Street shops and services.

As with all Churchill developments, owners would have the benefits of safety, security and peace of mind, with a Lodge Manager, a 24 hour Careline, Owners’ Lounge and Guest Suite, all in beautifully landscaped grounds.

As part of their planning application, Churchill Retirement Living made the case for the compelling overall housing need in Cranleigh and the surrounding area, especially for older people.

By 2032, over 28% of the local population in Waverley will be aged over 65.

Churchill’s plans to develop this brownfield site will help to reduce the need for greenfield development to meet the urgent demand for new homes in the local area.

Figures provided by Churchill show the new apartments would help to generate over £186,000 of health and social care savings each year by enabling older people to enjoy a healthier, safer and more independent lifestyle.

Enabling older people to downsize would also result in more than 75 larger, second-hand properties being released back onto the market, many of which will be suitable for growing families in the area.

The development would support around 70 new jobs both during and after its construction, and would bring around £1.6 million of extra spending to Cranleigh High Street.

Stuart Goodwill, Managing Director of Churchill Retirement Living’s in-house Planning consultancy, said:

Retirement housing is the most effective form of residential development for generating local economic growth, local jobs, and increasing high street spend as we look to recover from the pandemic.

Our proposed development would help improve the health and wellbeing of those who live there, and meet the housing needs of many older people in Cranleigh and the surrounding area.

Supporting the planning application, Richard Womack from Manns of Cranleigh wrote a letter responding to some of the queries raised during the planning consultation process.

Richard wrote:

Manns of Cranleigh has been trading at 101-105 High Street Cranleigh since 1887 and grew from a small hardware store to the large department store on a site of over an acre. Over the last 20 years retail has been challenged by the increase of on-line shopping and with continually increasing operational costs.

It had become apparent that our store was too large and we had been reducing its trading floor footprint for some time, eventually to a trading area of just c9,000 sq.ft at the front of the site by November 2020 from a total footprint of c.42,000sqft.

At this time, Manns of Cranleigh was struggling financially and entered into a CVA to address its legacy debt, trading became even more of a challenge where upon we were all hit by the pandemic.

Sadly after a concerted effort to keep the store open it became evident in the summer of 2021 that this was simply no longer viable and to mitigate any further losses the Board took the very difficult decision to close the store and I, Mr R Womack who has headed the company for almost 30 years took the decision to retire.

With the closure of the store, the site is therefore now available for redevelopment and it is believed that the proposed sale to CRL for the rear of the site will not only rejuvenate and modernize a sad looking and underutilised portion of the site but also offer a housing scheme with high demand in a perfect location for the targeted demographic.

The front of ‘Manns’ as it is known and loved by the community is not impacted by these plans and although currently closed, remains a large retail/service opportunity.

With a c5,000sq.ft ground floor footprint in what could be argued to be the best location in the high street, the owners have now turned their attention to this area.

Although no final decision has been made, options could include, leasing or selling the site in its entirety or sectioning the site into smaller units to attract more than one occupant. The owners of the site are currently in discussion with commercial agents to address this.

It should be noted that the rear of the site has been the target of much development interest over recent years but now with the closure of Manns of Cranleigh the time is right.

CRL have designed a sympathetic scheme that looks to fit seamlessly into the space, offering a great location to its new residents whilst bringing life and value to the high street.

The Board of Manns of Cranleigh fully support this application which it is hoped will allow us to invest in and revive our High Street premises.

The planning application has been registered with Waverley Borough Council under reference number WA/2022/00657.

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