Public asked to help decide future of The Pinewood site in Caterham
RESIDENTS are being invited to plot the future of an eyesore former car showroom site which was once the stamping ground of famous actor Bill Nighy.
The Pinewood site in Chaldon Road, Caterham, has gradually become a wasteland since it shut down in 2006.
The building, which was targeted by arsonists and graffiti vandals, was eventually demolished in 2007.
Now the public's views are being sought on the future of the site.
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Alan Weston from Weston Architects – based in Stafford Road, Caterham – is seeking the public's wish lists over what they believe should be done to transform the redundant land.
A planning application seven years ago for 21 flats there was rejected by both Tandridge District Council and a planning inspector.
Mr Weston said: "Some form of residential use may be the most likely action. But a part-commercial use is an option.
"I drive past this site regularly, and I think everyone would like to see the back of it in its present state."
Sarah Burningham, who chairs Caterham on the Hill Parish Council, said: "Many local residents want something done about this site.
"In its present state it presents a poor image at one of the 'gateways' to the town."
The site has a quirky connection with a prominent TV and film actor.
Bill Nighy, whose credits range from Love Actually to Doctor Who, lived in the adjoining house as a child.
His father Alfred managed the garage.
David Fisher, who lives in adjacent Auckland Road, recalled: "I remember seeing this boy playing in the garden of the house next door.
"I asked him who he was and he said 'I'm Billy and I live here'."
Mr Fisher added: "The site has turned into an overgrown eyesore.
"The flats plan they had before was quite good, although maybe with a few less properties and a few more parking spaces."
There was a brief flurry of excitement in February 2009 when a four-foot-high drawing of a woman in tears appeared on a side wall at the site.
It prompted some locals to conclude that it might be the work of secretive guerrilla artist Banksy.
Hopes were diminished when the same images cropped up overnight on other derelict buildings in Caterham Valley.
Any views on the future of the site can be e-mailed to firstname.lastname@example.org