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Guildford, Tuesday 1 September 2015: GVG welcomes the Town Centre Masterplan and congratulates the Council for commissioning this potentially transformational piece of work in pursuit of a sparkling new vision for the town centre.
GVG is very pleased to see included so many elements which it has advocated, including greater pedestrianisation, reclaiming the riverside, new public spaces, more homes and better transport integration.
GVG will be studying the plan closely, particularly the transport infrastructure proposals. It is perhaps the most important element to get right, once the developments and potential to create new places are identified. The proposals must remove standing traffic and ensure improvements in road safety, air quality, cycling safety and bus services. GVG’s professional transport experts hope to have access to the background data, especially traffic counts, used by the master planners and the assumptions made by the latter.
GVG will be looking at the road layouts and the station area in particular. The railway station represents a great swathe of underutilised air space and acts as a barrier between East & West Guildford. As the Chancellor of the Exchequer recognised recently, such underutilisation holds back so many town centres.
GVG will be examining the Masterplan proposals to see if the ideas are bold enough. What is actually deliverable? Might the ideas work against fuller (and braver) pedestrianisation so successful in other cathedral towns? GVG will be looking at the number of housing units proposed to ensure the town centre is delivering enough homes to enhance the town, the evening economy and to take pressure off the green belt.
The October consultation on the Masterplan will be a crucial period for the success and acceptability of the Masterplan.
GVG’s chairman, John Rigg, says: ‘Publication of the Masterplan is a great step forward. It could move us on light years so I urge all residents and businesses to get involved and to study it closely Help shape the final document and fashion a better Guildford. It is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to really make a positive difference to the future life and health of our lovely town, perhaps for the next hundred years if not for time immemorial. If the Masterplan is to work, it has to be adopted wholeheartedly by the community. Do come to our public meeting and share your views.’
GVG will be holding a public meeting on Monday 5 October 2015 at 7.30pm, at a venue to be announced.
For GBC’s link to their posting of the Masterplan:
Please visit http://www.guildford.gov.uk/article/14743/Bold-blueprint-to-reconnect-town-centre-and-riverside – and View Agenda
More about GVG and its ideas can be found on GVG’s website www.guildfordvisiongroup.com
For further information, contact: Yvonka Wilkinson, Vision for Guildford Ltd, on 07767 251040.
GVG has launched its ‘Manifesto’ to urge prospective councillors to focus on the key issues around the future of the town centre and to encourage a wide debate about the Masterplan.
We will get much better pedestrianisation, cycle routes and open spaces in the town centre and alongside the river only if we tackle the Gyratory. No if’s, but’s or half measures. We have to be bold.
So we say we need a new bridge across the railway and river to carry traffic away from the current mess in Bridge St and elsewhere. Better infrastructure, better transport integration and affordable housing are crucial for the future health of our town centre. There’s a very big deficit to recover.
GVG’s prime objective is to take back the centre for residents, workers and visitors alike, against a looming backdrop of 750,000 sq ft of station development and 750,000 sq ft of new retail development in North St. These are huge figures by any measure, and we know other plans are out there. With this level of development there has to be significant public gain to match that of the developers.
The Guildford Dragon has just published our bridge plan that shows how it would work:http://www.guildford-dragon.com/2015/04/17/vision-group-reveal-their-masterplan-and-manifesto-for-guildford/
You can also see GVG chairman John Rigg’s supporting‘Opinion’ piece for the Guildford Dragon at:
Attached is your copy of our public Manifesto and we encourage you to read it and to respond email@example.com with your views and comments. We welcome and need your feedback.
But most important of all, please ask your councillor candidates:
Our town centre can be even more special if we properly ‘place make’ by introducing attractive public spaces, a market square, great street scenes complete with cafes and other enjoyable, lively spots. This is especially so along the riverside, which we have to win back for people to enjoy from unattractive car parks and impersonal commercial buildings.
Over 250 people saw the Bridge to the Vision
Here are the slides & commentary from GVG’s public meeting held on 3 Sept at the Baptist Centre, Millmead, where John Rigg and Julian Lyon explained the need for a new rail & river crossing as part of a refinement of the Town Centre Vision (TCV). The new bridge will take traffic away from the gyratory and allow Bridge Street to be properly pedestrianised. The new bridge will also allow the Town Centre Vision to be realised more quickly (although we are talking about a 7-10 year development horizon).
Attended by over 250 people, questions and statements suggested very good support for the bridge concept, although considerable technical and exploratory studies will be need to fully test it. Here’s a recording of the Q&A session from the meeting.
Help Change the Draft Local Plan
If you support the TCV and the new bridge, you must write in to Guildford Borough Council under the current Local Plan consultation – ending on 22 Sept 2014 – to urge them to make sure that new Plan policies, including land reservations, will permit both to be realised. The new bridge will also help the Walnut Tree Close & Woodbridge Meadows area to be developed as a terrific riverside residential quarter. Such development could provide 2-4,000 much needed new homes on a brownfield site, both saving greenbelt land. A large, vibrant community in the town centre will help maintain the town’s appeal as a destination, supporting businesses and leisure pursuits.
We Have A Masterplanned Vision!
We have the start of the Vision for a masterplanned Guildford! You can see it at Town Centre Vision. This Masterplan is a great step forward and we at GVG are determined to keep the momentum going strongly so we can have the stellar town centre that Guildford, with all its rich history, deserves. Thank you for all your support to date – it really has encouraged us. Click on Vision Plan above for the recorded Public Presentation held on the 3rd September 2014 following a presentation by GBC’s Master Planners Allies and Morrison of the Town Centre Vision
Send Us Your Comments
Please send us your comments on the Vision document. We need to gather as much feedback as we can. Email your observations to firstname.lastname@example.orgWhat do you like? What do you not like? Do you think the traffic proposals will work? Do you support the plans for the riverside? Glad to see the Hopper bus back? What is the future for the High Street, once the North St development is built? Now’s the time to have your say.
It’s The Work Of Allies & Morrison
The Vision work has been carried out by Allies & Morrison (A&M), the respected masterplanners who, among other notable projects, designed the Olympic Park which so many of us enjoyed moving around.
The Vision In The Local Plan
Guildford Borough Council (GBC) plan to incorporate the Vision, as it stands at the moment, in the new Local Plan which will be out for consultation at the beginning of July. You can see all the detail of the Local Plan on the GBC website, here.
A&M’s initial work will be enhanced by more detail as further studies and consultations are undertaken. Eventually, so GBC say, the Vision will be given planning ‘teeth’ by becoming a Supplementary Planning Document, relating back to the adopted Local Plan.
What GVG Has Been Doing
There’s been a lot of activity this year, most of it behind the scenes. GVG members have met with key players and parties involved in the North Street scheme, for instance. We have tried to shape their thinking and plans. We have studied a range of linked proposals, eg the ARUPS ‘snake’ carefully. We have worked actively to keep the Masterplan initiative alive and on track. GVG members are on the North Street Advisory Panel established by GBC, albeit it has yet to meet.
There has been much lobbying of GBC councillors and officers. It is clear that, for the Masterplan to succeed, there will need to be a great team at GBC to see the project through – especially in the early years when the key decisions have to be made. The team must be able to call on additional professional help as and when necessary.
Local Plan vs Masterplan Vision
The Masterplan initiative has inevitably got caught up in the new Local Plan process. You can catch up on the Local Plan progress and process on the GBC website or, for an independent commentary and analysis, you can go here. It’s important that the rush and fierce focus to see the Local Plan approved doesn’t derail progress on developing the Vision into credible, achievable plans. So if you’re with us, please speak out. Our concern is that the forthcoming elections in May 2015 may introduce delay or indecision, or at worst – backsliding.
GVG Stands For Growth
We at GVG have kept pretty quiet over a dominant feature of the Local Plan, namely the amount of new housing and the impact on the Green Belt. The Guildford Society and local resident groups have been hard at work on those aspects. But GVG does stand for growth, and certainly believes in a vibrant, attractive and elegant town centre. So it supports, for instance, a well-planned residential quarter for Walnut Tree Close. That, and other brownfield sites, should reduce pressure to use Green Belt land for housing.
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