The Foundry & Church Street Redevelopment

Plans to redevelop the Foundry site have been in discussion since 2014, initially for sale for affordable housing. The proposed site was widened to include the Church Street workshops in response to market feedback, and was proposed for a mixed use redevelopment to include workshop and residential units. This site was included in the draft Local Plan for Mole Valley, which has been the subject of extensive public consultation.

Our property team has worked with external architects to develop concept designs (Royal Institute of British Architects, RIBA, stage 2*). Two key stakeholder workshops have taken place so far in 2023 (involving neighbouring residents, business and other local interested parties) to inform the design. Pre-application planning advice has also been sought. Concept designs include 6 apartments and 187 sq m of new commercial/workshop space, and retains the pedestrian route through the site between West Street and North Street.

Demolition is now complete and the site is now clear and contained within hoarding. Subject to MVDC Cabinet approval, the project team will develop designs ready for submission of a planning application in Summer 2024. During this process, further stakeholder consultation will take place.

*The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Plan of Work organises the process of briefing, designing, constructing and operating building projects into eight stages and explains the stage outcomes, core tasks and information exchanges required at each stage.

Frequently Asked Questions

The Foundry and Church Street workshop site is part of a small industrial site in west Dorking, owned by MVDC and located between West Street, North Street and Church Street. The site also neighbours the Dorking Museum.

Prior to demolition, the site contained six light industrial units. Units on the Foundry side were at the end of their life. The units on the Church Street site were in better condition but did not meet current modern standards.

The redevelopment project is being carried out by MVDC, it is not being ‘sold off’ to developers.

MVDC has been working together with McGregor White Architects to undertake surveys and consultations (see below for details).

The Church Street workshops needed to be demolished in order for the wider site to be redeveloped and to improve the financial viability of redevelopment.

MVDC was successful in obtaining grant funding of £90,000 from the Brownfield Land Release Fund, toward demolition costs. Concept designs include replacement commercial/workshop space that (unlike the previous workshop units) will be heated, energy efficient and satisfy current building regulations.

Previous to demolition, the site contained six workshop units.

Rental income across the combined site was decreasing, whilst maintenance costs (which included emergency replacement of broken asbestos sheets and health and safety works to the toilet block) were increasing. MVDC also had a business rates liability, meaning that the site used to cost thousands of pounds each year to keep.

In early March 2023 MVDC held a face-to-face consultation workshop for tenants, neighbours and community stakeholders, where early-stage plans and concepts were discussed. The first set of design sketches propose six apartments and c. 2400sqft of commercial space, which would offer more employment opportunities than the existing units on site.

A second design workshop for key stakeholders was held in late July 2023. Concept designs had been prepared following the feedback from the March consultation, and feedback from a planning pre-application. The concept design includes 6 apartments (4 x 2 bedroom and 2 x 1 bedroom) together with 187 sq m of new workshop/commercial space.

The demolition of the old units does not prevent residents and stakeholders from participating in the full engagement process during future RIBA stages; further workshops are planned before the submission of a planning application in April 2024.

The site has now been cleared to ground floor level with site hoardings and making good of boundaries, all in accordance with the scheme and conditions approved by MVDC as the planning authority.

Subject to the time it takes to achieve a planning permission, we expect a gap of approximately 12-18 months between the demolition and start of construction on the new scheme.

The site was not known to contain any protected species. A Preliminary Roost Assessment was carried out by Deepdene Ecology and confirmed that the likelihood of bats roosting in any of the buildings on site was low to negligible. A bat emergence survey was completed in May 2023.

  • 2014
    • Discussions to redevelop the Foundry site begin, with the aim of providing affordable housing through a land disposal to a Registered Provider of Social Housing. Despite a full marketing campaign it fails to attract a buyer on the grounds that the proposal is not viable. The site is considered too small and complex given the potential issues of contamination, access and its location within a Conservation Area.
    • In light of the feedback, MVDC revisits the options for the site, and the proposals are widened to include the Church Street workshops and expand the redevelopment for a mixed-use project that retains and expands artisan workshop units, together with providing new residential units. The site is proposed for inclusion in the emerging Local Plan as a strategic site for redevelopment.

    January – February 2021

    September 2021

    • The Regulation 19 version of the draft Local Plan, that includes the Foundry and Church Street workshop site (DS33) as a strategic site, is approved for publication. The consultation closed in November 2021.

    February 2022

    • The Local Plan is approved for submission to the Secretary of State/Planning Inspector.

    Summer 2022

    • Examination in public starts in June 2022 and ends in October 2022.

    July 2022

    • One Public Estate (a national programme that supports locally-led partnerships of public sector bodies, helping partners to repurpose public estate for housing and regeneration) launches a new fund – the Brownfield Land Release Fund. The fund is designed to help councils to transform unused, redundant or derelict sites into high quality homes.

    August 2022

    • MVDC submits a bid to the Brownfield Land Release Fund.

    October 2022

    • Discussions begin with the four tenants at the site; one of whom exercises their right to terminate their lease.
    • In order to offer assistance to the remaining three tenants, MVDC starts exploring vacant industrial units and liaising with commercial property agents. With no vacant industrial units to offer, temporary alternative accommodation and potential sharing options with existing tenants are also explored.
    • MVDC is notified (on a confidential basis) of its successful Brownfield Land Release Fund bid; the allocation of the award is announced in November 2022.
    • Site surveys (including drainage, asbestos demolition, topographical and measured building and contaminated land) begin.
    • A Preliminary Roost Assessment finds the likelihood of bats roosting in any of the buildings to be negligible to low and a subsequent bat emergence survey is scheduled in for May 2023 (such surveys can only be undertaken between the months of May and September).

    December 2022

    • A planning application for demolition [reference MO/2022/2145] is prepared and submitted, later scheduled for a decision in June 2023 and then deferred until October 2023.

    January 2023

    • Formal notice is given to the remaining three tenants that leases are to be terminated with six months’ notice (in accordance with the terms of the leases), to take effect from July 2023.
    • Following a competitive tender process, McGregor White Architects is appointed to lead the design and viability work, with the aim of submitting a planning application for redevelopment by April 2024.
    • The contract for demolition goes out to tender.

    March 2023

    • A stakeholder workshop is held, allowing tenants, neighbouring residents and businesses to view and comment on the first set of massing sketches produced by McGregor White Architects.
    • The contract for demolition is awarded, in line with the conditions of the grant funding. However as the site is in a conservation area, demolition works cannot start without planning consent.

    May 2023

    • Bat emergence survey complete.

    June 2023

    • The planning application for demolition works that was submitted to MVDC (as the Local Planning Authority) in December 2022 [reference MO/2022/2145] was due to be considered at the June meeting of the Development Management Committee, but was deferred.

    July 2023

    • A second stakeholder workshop is held allowing neighbouring residents, businesses and other interested parties to comment on amended concept designs produced by architects McGregor White. Due to the deferral of the planning application for demolition, new short leases are agreed with the two remaining tenants, to October 2023.

    September 2023

    One of the two remaining tenants finds alternative premises to move to when their existing short lease expires on 10th October. The other tenant is offered and accepts premises in Dorking.

    October 2023

    The application to demolish is approved by MVDC Cabinet.

    February 2024

    Demolition of the old units completed.

Summer 2024 

Further stakeholder engagement ahead of completion of RIBA* stage 3 and submission of planning application for redevelopment.

*The Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) Plan of Work organises the process of briefing, designing, constructing and operating building projects into eight stages and explains the stage outcomes, core tasks and information exchanges required at each stage.