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Waverley Borough Council Committee System - Committee Document

Meeting of the Executive held on 01/03/2005
East Street, Farnham : Riverside

Summary & Purpose
The purpose of this report is to update members on the suitability of the Riverside site for the provision and relocation of the facilities necessary to support the East Street regeneration scheme. This report informs Members as to the outcome of the investigations at the Riverside site and provides Members with various options for remediation and development of the site, for consideration.

Quality of Life Implications
Natural Resource Use
Pollution Prevention and Control
Biodiversity and Nature
Local Environment
Social Inclusion
Safe Communities
Local Economy
Resource Use
Prevention and Control
and Nature
Safe, Healthy
and Active

The quality of life implications are as previously reported to the Executive.

E-Government implications:

There are no direct E-Government implications arising from this report.

Resource and legal implications:

There are financial implications associated with this report, which will be the subject of a detailed report to the next meeting of the Executive. In October 2004, Members approved a supplementary capital estimate of 25,000 to undertake the studies and surveys referred to in this report.


1. Members will recall that the report to the Executive on 21st July 2003 set out the work required by the Council in conjunction with the redevelopment of the East Street area of Farnham. In summary, the Riverside site, the majority of which is currently held in the HRA, was identified as a possible location for the tennis courts and clubhouse, which are to be relocated as part of the enabling works for the East Street redevelopment. Members agreed the provision of five courts with clubhouse at Riverside, in April 2003. It has also been agreed by the Council in principle in July 2004 that additional parking will be provided at the Riverside site on a permanent basis to both provide car parking during the construction period and to replace the net loss of Council spaces in the development.

2. While under the development brief it is not a requirement to relocate the Bowls Club, as the design of the East Street scheme has progressed it has become apparent that it is likely that there would be an adverse impact on the playing surface if the Bowls Club remains in its present location. There could be potential advantages to its relocation provided that an appropriate site can be found and that the relocation is at no cost to the Council. The Riverside site has been identified as a possible alternative location for the Bowls Club also.

3. The options for the Bowls Club, subject to funding, are therefore:

i. to remain in its present location and to review the playing surface over time,

ii. consider an artificial surface at its present location,
iv. relocate the Bowls Club to an alternative location in Farnham.

4. Two planning applications were submitted in September 2003 for the site, one for car parking and the tennis courts and clubhouse and one for car parking, tennis courts, bowling green and combined clubhouse for the tennis and the bowls clubs.

5. A report to the Executive on 4th October 2004 informed Members of the preliminary work carried out to date with regard to the Riverside enabling works. This preliminary work has entailed the appointment of Specialist Consultants, as well as clearance of the undergrowth and small trees on the site prior to a topographical survey, a reptile survey and a contamination survey being carried out.

6. It has always been known that the Riverside site presented potential risks of contamination and flooding although the extent of these problems was unclear. A contamination survey was necessary as the site is part of the former gas works and experience of neighbouring sites led officers to believe there could be some contamination of the site. Similarly, due to the proximity of the site to the river, the Environment Agency (EA) were contacted by the Consultant Engineer, appointed to advise on remediation, drainage and construction, to establish the flood level for the site.

7. In summary, since the original plans for the Riverside site were considered, the additional surveys required have identified significant issues relating to the condition of the site which have implications for the viability of the site for accommodating all the proposed facilities and for the costs of the necessary works. The following sets out the detailed position.


8. Through a number of previously commissioned reports, several areas of concern across the site have been highlighted. The results had been relatively inconclusive as to whether the contamination found was originating from a source on/under the Riverside site or from the adjacent industrial area to the north. The former Farnham gas works was located to the northwest of the Riverside site and what still remains is currently unknown. In November 2004, Hyder Consulting undertook a final investigation to provide a complete picture of the site.

9. This further testing confirmed the findings and assumptions made in all previous reports and it is now known that widespread contamination exists across the majority of the Riverside site, mainly from an off-site source:

No landfill gas was found.

10. Hyder Consulting have advised that the development proposals for car parking, tennis courts, possibly a bowling green and clubhouse would be a suitable development for the site as the capping of the site with buildings and hard standing would break any potential pollution pathways. Problems may arise, however, if any proposed foundations would penetrate the silty clay layer and allow the movement of known contaminants between these two separate layers. Hyder have recommended that the risk of puncturing the silty clay layer must be avoided to avoid creating a contamination pathway and to prevent the currently confined groundwater from rising. Consideration should also be given to underground structures that are still not fully known about (concrete structures, tanks, pipe work).

11. Further consideration will have to be given to the proposed open spaces if full access is envisaged. In this instance, a clean capping layer or excavation and replacement with "clean" soil is recommended. This is obviously dependant on the final site layout. In the meantime, there is a risk of human exposure to the contaminants on the grassed areas of the site and the engineers consider that public access should be restricted if the Council does not redevelop the site.

12. Continued monitoring of the groundwater and the River Wey is also recommended, along with further testing of the northern side of the site to locate the source of the off-site contamination. This issue may have to be dealt with under Part IIA of the Environmental Protection Act 1990.

Flood level

13. The initial information from the EA in 2002 indicated that a third of the site was liable to flooding and the initial two schemes were drawn up on that basis.

14. Subsequent written confirmation in 2003 advised that roughly half of the site area lies within the historic (1968) flood envelope of the Wey. It was necessary to carry out a flood risk assessment to establish the flood level for the site as the EA was not in possession of current data for the relevant section of the river.

15. The Agency has stated that it would not object in principle to the use of this area of the flood plain for recreational purposes. However, it would object to ground raising unless there was "compensation" elsewhere to creating a new area of floodplain to ensure no net reduction in the storage capacity of the flood plain.

16. If the proposed buildings are also in the floodplain it would be necessary to prevent a loss of flood storage capacity by creating further compensatory areas, to make the buildings floodable or to construct the building with substantial void space underneath by raising the ground floor to allow water to pass through. Whether this is acceptable to the EA will depend on the nature of the structure.

17. After considerable research and correspondence with the EA a 1 in 100 year + 20% precautionary flood level to allow for climate change, for the site has been agreed which equates to three quarters of the site could be liable to flooding as drawing 15009/001 Rev D (See Annexe 1).

Outcome of flood risk assessment and contamination surveys

18. The flood level established for the site implies that should the river breach its banks about a quarter of the site will remain dry. This is the part of the site, which at present is covered by car parking. In order for the development on the site to be above the flood level it is necessary to increase the levels over the site. This can only be done if flood compensation is provided close by, ideally on the same site.

19. Any flood compensation would involve the lowering of areas of the site and consequently the removal of contaminated spoil, which has a considerable cost implication. The Landfill (England and Wales) Regulations 2002 came into force in July 2004 and this has reduced the number of licensed tips accepting contaminated spoil and increased the cost of disposal.

20. It became apparent once the extent of the contamination was known and given the level of flooding on the site that to resolve the cost implications of the site, it was necessary to look again at the development of the site and the positioning of the amenities. The planning applications were therefore withdrawn in October 2004.

21. Since then officers have been working with Consultants to redesign and cost various options for consideration by Members.


22. The level of contamination identified on the site could be a danger to human health. It would therefore be necessary to carry out remediation to the site or to restrict access by fencing footpaths and securing the site, if there was to be no further development of the site. The minimum work necessary to remediate will involve either removing the contaminated soil and replacing with clean imported soil or capping with a clean layer. The actual work carried out will have to be by agreement with the EA. However, it may be possible to recover the cost of this work from DEFRA through their Contaminated Land Capital Projects Programme 2005/06 (England). Restricting access by fencing will require on-going maintenance and regular security patrols, which have a resource implication.

23. Drawing P/09 Rev B (see Annexe 2) is one of the two original proposals for the site submitted for planning in September 2003 and subsequently withdrawn. From the work carried out in connection with the flood risk assessment we now know that apart from car park A, the rest of the site is liable to flooding. It is difficult to predict the implications of the flooding on the amenities under this scheme. We can only surmise that the bowling green, tennis courts and the pavilion could be damaged. Obviously, the extent depends on the severity of the flooding.

24. However, Waverley could mitigate the possible damage by constructing the bowling green with an all weather surface and the pavilion with a resilient tiled floor finish that can be cleaned easily and all electrics could be installed at a higher level.

25. It is intended that if this option is preferred, the tennis courts will be constructed of a porous material and consequently it is assumed will only require sweeping/hosing down after flooding. This will also apply to the area of car parking within the flood plain.

26. Drawing 5001 Rev D (see Annexe 3) proposes separate tennis and bowls facilities with car parking between. The bowling green is located on the site of the current car park, which is the area of the site outside the flood plain. Consequently, this facility should be unaffected by flooding. It will be possible to provide a grass surface to the bowling green in this location, which is the preferred surface of the members of the bowls club. The pavilion has a bar area and indoor short mat bowls which should be unaffected in the event of flooding. As noted previously the tennis facilities could be constructed to mitigate damage in the event of flooding.

27. Drawing 5002 (see Annexe 4) has car parking for 300 to the west of the site and five tennis courts with clubhouse. The courts and clubhouse could be subject to flooding in this proposal, but would be constructed as previously described in Option 2.

28. Drawing 5002 Rev B (see Annexe 5) again has car parking to the west of the site for 300 and five tennis courts with clubhouse. In an effort to ensure the clubhouse is not liable to flooding, the clubhouse in this scheme has been raised by approximately 1m. The appropriate compensation for this increase in level can be made elsewhere on the site.

29. As yet the Lawn Tennis Association have not had the opportunity to comment on the viability of the tennis courts on the Riverside site. Any such comments will need to be taken into account when finalising the design/location of the courts.


30. The attached programme (see Annexe 6) sets out the anticipated timescale for the works at Riverside. It should be recognised that this is a preliminary outline and very likely to change.

Financial implications and Risks

31. In July 2004, Members were provided with an updated financial appraisal of the East Street Masterplan. The appraisal showed a detailed breakdown of the other aspects of the net premium arising from the East Street development including an estimate of the potential "deductions" relating to the Riverside works.

32. At the next meeting of the Executive, a full financial appraisal and risk analysis will be presented including the detailed estimated cost of each option and the potential financial impact on the overall East Street regeneration scheme.


33. There are several options available for the Riverside site each with implications in terms of flooding and cost of remediation. They are to relocate the tennis club and provide car parking for 300 as option 4, to relocate the tennis club, the bowls club and to provide a car park with a minimum of 250 spaces as options 2 and 3, or not to develop the site but to remediate or restrict access as option 1.

34. It has been acknowledged that there are advantages to the relocation of the bowls club but those advantages are to be realised only providing that the relocation is at no cost to the Council. If the bowls club is not to be relocated to the Riverside site, consideration needs to be given as to whether the bowls club should be relocated to another site or should remain where it is but have an all weather surface or should remain where it is without any alterations to the playing surface. It should be noted that no alternative sites have been identified as feasible to date.

35. There are costs arising from officer time and external advisers who will need to be employed in working up the best scheme for the Riverside site or any alternative location that may be proposed. Therefore, the Executive is asked to note the options and the information on the condition of the site. At the next meeting of the Executive, a full financial appraisal will be presented of the options and of the financial impact on the overall East Street regeneration scheme.


It is recommended that the Executive:-

1. notes the site conditions of the Riverside site, and 2. notes the options identified and awaits the financial and risk analysis before instructing officers on which option, if any, to develop in more detail.


Name: Mrs J Turner Telephone: 01483 523468

E-mail: jturner@waverley.gov.uk