Save Longmead!

The Longmead building – a handsome Edwardian school in Redhill Town Centre is threatened with imminent demolition – despite being acknowledged as of historic importance and structurally sound.

Originally the Cromwell Road School, building was completed in January 1910 and several generations of Redhill children were educated there. The school closed in 1987, and it subsequently became the Longmead Adult Education Centre. In recent years it has been empty and unused.

Local Greens have been trying to secure the future of the building for more than ten years – and calling for it to be brought back into community use. We have argued for a different development strategy for Redhill, based on making good use of existing facilities.

“This building could be used for community uses and affordable housing. We brought the issue to our local council to resist the demolition threat over Longmead and tried to get it locally listed. It is in good condition and a local landmark.”
Green Cllr Steve McKenna, 2019

“Opportunities to retain the building… should be explored fully”

Longmead’s historic importance is not disputed. In 2009, Reigate & Banstead Council’s Planning Committee considered giving Longmead ‘local listing’ status, which would give it some protection.

The Planning Committee agreed that Longmead met the criteria for listing, but decided to defer the decision on whether to do this “until a feasibility study on its retention has been completed”. On enquiry in 2013, Green Cllr Sarah Finch was told that this feasibility study was “still ongoing”.

But it was presumably completed, as Longmead does feature in Reigate & Banstead Borough Council’s Development Plan, which says: “The existing building is locally listed and contributes to the historic character of the town centre. Opportunities to retain the building through conversion and refurbishment or partial redevelopment should be explored fully.”

“The building… is in sound structural condition”

In 2014, a survey for Surrey County Council found that: “The building fabric is in sound structural condition, but a considerable amount [of] work would be required to bring it to a good condition.” 

“Why demolish a beautiful structurally sound building? It could be an inspiring community hub, with social housing above. Keep historic character, Reuse for community and social rented homes, Save carbon.”
Green Cllr Jonathan Essex, 2020

Demolition permitted

Despite all the good reasons for keeping it, last year, Surrey County Council gave itself permission to demolish Longmead. The decision did not to go the Planning Committee.

Local voluntary organisations had not been invited to pitch to use it although at least one had expressed an interest.

Demolition could start imminently – but campaigners are still trying to stop it at the eleventh hour. An application to register Longmead as an ‘Asset of Community Value’ has been lodged – and a petition to halt the demolition has gathered more than 1,200 signatures. The Victorian Society has also made an emergency listing application.

Surrey County Council: still time to rethink

Redhill has lost so many of the buildings that gave it its character as a Victorian/Edwardian town. We now mourn the Victorian Market Hall and other buildings that were knocked down during the 1980s redevelopments.

More recently the whole of the 1930s Odeon cinema (later Liquid and Envy nightclub) was demolished to make way for a much, much taller block of flats – even though it had been agreed that the frontage would be maintained.

Surrey County Council should learn from the mistakes of the past and allow Longmead to pass to a new occupier who will refurbish, rather than replace it.

 

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