GVG members were delighted to welcome Councillor James Palmer, Lead Councillor for Transportation and for the Town Centre, to our regular Friday meeting on 24 August. In spite of GVG having extended regular and on-going invitations to our meetings, this was the first time that one of the Councillorshad attended.
Cllr Palmer was interested to hear GVG views. He had not been in post for long, but wanted to assure GVG that GBG recognised that the original Draft Master Plan had been inadequate.
According to Cllr Palmer, GBC wants a properous and lively Guildford, preserving the historic character, culture, business etc – not just retail. However, the North Street Development Brief would introduce an additional 60,000 sq m of retail space!
Cllr Palmer wanted to reassure GVG that GBC was trying to bring forward the transportation study, but that planning decisions could not be put on hold while such studies were on-going. They had to be done in parallel. GVG urged that, if this were the case, then GBC needed to ‘PRESERVE OPTIONS’ so that opportunities, such as the possibility of a new river or railway crossing, were not lost for good.
GVG also suggested that at least some of the sites could be designated as not available for development until the infrastructure plan was in place.
GVG members are not against development. We are totally in favour of sustainable development based on a proper Master Plan. Without this, it would be virtually impossible for the town to grow its economy. Right now, corporate organisations won’t move their headquarters here because there is too little affordable housing, and the traffic is so bad.
We hope that the meeting on 24 August was just the start of a meaningful on-going dialogue with the Council. And of greater transparency from GBC.