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On Tuesday 20th February Guildford Borough Council passed a resolution to sell West Lodge in Chilworth. West Lodge is a grade II list building attached to the Chilworth Gunpowder Mills Scheduled Monument. It is also part of the Gunpowder Mills Conservation Area set up by the Council.

For a quick summary of the issues with images and plans  click here 

The following are the personal views of Gavin Morgan, Founder of the Guildford Heritage Forum.  Click here to see full letter of objection by Gavin Morgan

Gavin Morgan's view is that sale of West Lodge will affect the historical integrity of a scheduled monument and lead to changes that harm the ““natural and cultural heritage of the site”.

The argument can be summarised as follows:

  • Point 1: The Council has stated the importance of preserving the “natural and cultural heritage of the site” which is very welcome and positive.
  • Point 2:  The Council claims that disposal (i.e. sale on the open market) is “the most appropriate solution” but this is questionable.
  • Point 3: Sale risks irrevocably damaging the “natural and cultural heritage of the site.”
  • Point 4: The historical importance of West Lodge is not being given appropriate consideration.
  • Point 5: The Council has not considered all options. West Lodge is a difficult conservation issue.  The Council does not wish to invest in the building, it has rejected a proposal from St Martha Parish Council and selling could prove impossible once restrictions required by heritage bodies are considered. There is another option proposed in May 2016 (see West_Lodge_160812-GMorgan-Appraisal-May2016.pdf). This is to retain the building as part of the scheduled monument. This does not appear to have been costed out, but would cost far less. If none of the other options are viable then this could be the only way forward. The Council should investigate the proposal that the building is kept tidy and maintained as part of the scheduled monument. It might be used as a temporary shed or lock up for groups (e.g. forest schools) using the historic trail or working parties maintaining the site.

Finally, if the Council’s proceeds with the sale of West Lodge then it should do so in a professional, responsible and open way. Before the building goes on the market the Council should consult all relevant statutory bodies so that potential buyers can be made aware of what they are taking on, its historical importance and what changes can be made to the building. This information should be publicly available, and St Martha Parish Council should be kept informed at each stage. The Council should refer to the following guidance from English Heritage: https://historicengland.org.uk/imagesbooks/publications/disposal-heritage-assets/



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