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69 High Street, Godalming

Project Background

Waverley Borough Council purchased 69 High Street, Godalming in Summer 2022 to develop much needed housing and bring regeneration to the town centre. 

The project aims to deliver affordable housing and economic regeneration preserving the integrity of the high street whilst addressing the affordable housing supply challenge through a mixed-use development of the site.  

Overview of the site

The site is situated on Godalming High Street and within the Godalming Town Centre Conservation Area.

The existing building is a two-storey brick construction with a large open plan retail unit at the ground floor and storage and office space at the first floor - it is no longer suitable for occupation by a retailer in its current form. 

Design Proposal

Working with Waverley Borough Council to meet their brief, the design team have developed design proposals that incorporate several key elements such as optimised form factor, adherence to site topography, designated plant areas on the roof, and a new hipped roof form in harmony with the historical context. The front brickwork elevation will be retained, repaired and sensitively enhanced. The new rear elevation will share its boundary with the future residential development. This party wall will be brickwork, designed to compliment the surrounding context. Material selection aligns with the High Street's heritage, incorporating Flemish bind brickwork.

In addition to the enhanced and new high performance building fabric which reduces energy demand, proposals also include roof mounted plant, photovoltaic panels, and the potential for green/biodiverse roofs as part of the sustainable urban drainage (SUDs) strategy. Access to the roof is provided from first floor.

The development of the commercial proposals have included consideration of how the future residential development will be serviced.

Internal Layout

Proposals include potential internal layouts for the prospective tenant, that have been developed to allow for ground floor bar and dining, with first floor dining and kitchen provision. Associated ancillary accommodation is provided on both storeys, including new bin stores access via an access and escape corridor. The two storey development will have two stairs, with opportunity for lift provision.


The existing and proposed commercial development at 69 High Street aligns with Waverley Borough Council's vision for the site, combining functionality, sustainability, and historical preservation to contribute to the vibrant regeneration of Godalming's High Street.

Following recent pre-application advice with Waverley Borough Council's Local Planning Authority (LPA), the planning application for the commercial unit will be submitted to the LPA shortly. The future residential development will be submitted under separate application (aim for later in 2024) with future consultation prior to this.

Project Impact

The design team have explored multiple design options, working with Waverley Borough Council to consider putting forward appropriate, sustainable and economically viable development for the site. The project aims to be a catalyst for the High Street regeneration, providing a potential anchor unit. Considering the project goals holistically represents proposals that will benefit the local community bringing an asset back in to use, whilst be sensitive to the historic context.

The project delivers against the Council’s strategic priorities of:

  • Good quality housing for all income levels and age groups – by bringing forward housing on an empty retail site.
  • Acting on the climate emergency and protecting the environment – by repurposing existing building where possible whilst providing new energy efficient homes and commercial space.
  • Supporting a strong, resilient local economy – by developing a new town centre use for the previous large retail unit, encouraging local high street spend and footfall.
  • Local, open, participative government – by engaging with the local community in the process.

What has happened so far?

Summer 2022

Acquisition of the property.

Consultations with possible tenants and Project Initiation.

Review of the existing scheme and agree strategy for the site.


Design development to utilise the site in the best way possible, maximising use for interested tenant and bring forward housing.

Options assessment and viability testing.

Agreed preferred option for the development by the Council at full council meeting in August 2023.

Site surveys and Design development to progress to planning application.


Further design testing – especially in relation to building structure and how much building can be kept.

Pre-planning application advice.

Community drop-in sessions in April.

Next Steps

Community engagement.

Early Spring: Submission of full planning application for commercial unit.

Procurement and appointment of main contractor in line / after planning permission.


Frequently Asked Questions

We acquired the property in Summer 2022, WBC consulted with potential tenants, reviewed the existing scheme, and agreed a strategy for the site. In 2023 a design was developed to maximise use for housing and potential commercial tenants.

In the Spring of 2023, asbestos was discovered in the building. Our programme allowed for time to deal with asbestos, however there was a very significant quantity and the management and removal of it extended the programme by more than six months. 

While this was happening, options were assessed and tested, and the preferred option was agreed by the Council in August 2023. 

The removal of the asbestos was completed in January 2024, after which site surveys could be carried out to inform the detailed design requirements.

A planning application will be submitted in early Spring 2024 and subject to this, we aim to start construction in Autumn 2024, with handover to the tenant in Spring 2025.

The proposal for the commercial unit is the same height as the existing building (ground floor and first floor). 

As the front façade will be retained there will be scaffolding and supporting structures installed, but all vehicular movements will be through Lower South Street.

One of the key considerations of selecting a main contractor will be the minimisation of any disruption on Godalming High Street. The site benefits from access to the front and rear and so every effort will be made to minimise disruption to the High Street although it is likely that scaffolding will be erected to help retain the existing shop façade.

We’ll try to minimise the disruption of existing businesses in the town centre. We’ll consult with business owners and provide them with updates about the project. A tender requirement of the main contractor will be their membership of the Considerate Contractors Scheme which is a nationwide initiative providing guidance for contractors on minimising any disruption.

All servicing will be through the front accessway on the High Street.

The aim is to seek approval for the business case in Autumn 2024 and subject to this submit a planning application shortly after.

There will be up to 10 residential units subject to financial appraisal and business case approval.

We are proposing to deliver 100% affordable housing to meet local housing need.

No, the Council does not have intention to sell any part of the land to a developer.

A Construction Management Plan will be a requirement of planning and the main contractor will need to meet various standards and accreditations including being a member of the Considerate Contractors scheme. When a project is on-site, there are a number of regulations and legislations which will be adhered to and inspected throughout.

The project is led by Waverley Borough Council supported by a multidisciplinary construction consultancy and supported by an experienced wider professional team.

Waverley Borough Council would like to set a good example by being a fair landlord on the High Street. Our investment here will help us to understand businesses needs and challenges. We hope this will result in an improved partnership/collaboration with other business owners and the Godalming Business Improvement District.