Come and See a Better Guildford
At 7.45pm on Wednesday 15 March at the University of Surrey, Guildford Vision Group (GVG) will hold a second public meeting for the launch of its Town Centre Plan.
Please do attend.
All business leaders, businesses, organisations and people concerned that Guildford remains competitive should attend. You will see how the town centre could be revitalised, regenerated and set on a course for success.
The public meeting is in the main Lecture Theatre of the Rik Medlik building at the University of Surrey, Stag Hill campus, 7.45pm on Wednesday 15 March 2017. Parking is free in the adjacent car park.
More information about this event can be found at: http://bit.ly/NewMeeting
Businesses Need a Better Guildford
If Guildford is to remain competitive then major change and improvements need to happen. We need a modern centre with 21st century standards. Guildford must be a place that is looking to the future in a highly competitive world.
GVG was formed over five years ago to lobby for a better planned town centre.
We are a group of local residents from the built environment professions and our objectives include addressing key issues faced by businesses and residents in the town, with congestion and housing high on the agenda.
A better planned town centre is good for Guildford businesses. More and better business space, landscaped public squares and thoroughfares, all embracing a revitalised riverside. It has to set standards that will attract more companies and attract the best staff.
A serious ambition must be to create a proper transport hub at the railway station to make journeys easier and more reliable for your customers and staff alike.
GVG has also calculated that over 2,500 new homes, including affordable, can be sited close by the centre in sustainable development that can serve business and feed the town centre economy with space for modern amenities such as fitness centres, cafes, restaurants, art galleries and hotels.
The Story So Far
GVG began by lobbying for a professional Masterplan for the town centre after decades of inactivity.
Guildford Borough Council (GBC) agreed, and urban practitioners Allies & Morrison (A&M) were appointed.
The A&M Plan set out a vision with a number of engaging themes to address and enhance some of the less attractive aspects of our town centre. But its mandate did not include in any depth the infrastructure deficit and congestion, or the ambition of all leading towns to have significant traffic free areas for residents and visitors.
Planning Status of Council Initiatives
In March 2016 GBC approved the A&M masterplan but crucially did not adopt it. Thus it has no planning status.
Similarly, this January, GBC launched its Town Centre Regeneration Strategy (TCRS) which picked up on many of the themes of the A&M study. But again, crucially, GBC has not legally adopted its TCRS. It describes it as ‘aspirational’, which is fine, but documents with no planning status have little significance.
The much-delayed new Local Plan still remains to be finally consulted on, examined by a Planning Inspector and adopted (or not) but it addresses few of the town centre issues, threats or opportunities.
Guildford remains vulnerable to piecemeal, opportunistic development with little chance to gain the big community wins that can come from a large-scale, comprehensive scheme.
What GVG Has Done to Date
From the outset GVG has promoted a pro-growth agenda, facing opposition from those who feel the town does not need to embrace growth or adopt challenging radical improvements to rail, road, bus, cycle and pedestrian routes. There has also been needless fear that Guildford’s historic fabric might somehow be damaged.
But GVG’s strength is that it is composed of long-term residents deeply committed to the town and its future. Public support has grown.
On Feb 1 this year we attracted over 400 people to our presentation, with almost unanimous support for the proposal, and more than 10,000 have viewed the event’s streamed broadcast.
The Benefits of the GVG Plan for Guildford Businesses and People
GVG determined to draw up its own Plan for the town centre in the absence of progress in addressing the key issues. It wanted to see what might be possible.
With the help of nationally-renowned David Leonard, of Leonard Design Architects, GVG has produced a very detailed Plan that incorporates most of, if not all, the ‘wins’ for a better town centre and appropriate for a leading business centre.
It addresses the six objectives, the benefits, GVG set itself for any scheme:
- Wider pedestrianisation of the town centre
- Exciting new public space and a reinvigorated riverside
- Redirection of traffic away from the town centre
- An integrated road and rail hub
- More town centre housing
- A new and better East-West link
These objectives had been derived from research, public consultation and professional input from a number of respected, qualified businesses, as well as from the contribution of the current 18 person GVG Steering Group. The benefits are substantial.
The New East/West Crossing
The fundamental infrastructure centrepiece of the GVG Plan is a new East/West crossing, connecting York Road roundabout with the Guildford Park Road area, across the river and railway.
The new crossing is the real enabler. It diverts traffic around the core of the town and removes the need for the infamous gyratory. It provides a new and better east west connection to the station and for vehicles buses cycles and foot traffic.
It enables a range of key developments in the town. It reunites town and riverside, with the latter opened up for people to enjoy. It allows pedestrians to have priority in the centre. It allows Onslow St to host comprehensive bus facilities and creates an essential transport hub at the railway station. So the crossing is crucial.
The GVG Steering Group
The core GVG working group is almost entirely made up of long-term residents with extensive professional experience.
The very relevant skills and experience pool of the GVG Steering Group includes property development & investment, property law & economics, transport & infrastructure, architecture & town planning, civil engineering, national development agency, heritage, arts & education.
Members of the group have held senior positions in their field, including senior legal appointment, chair, senior partner, chief executive officer & managing director. Almost all have had direct profit responsibility.
GVG is independent, and has no political affiliations or vested interests. It lobbies and wants to work collaboratively with all parties and interests, both public and private, in pursuit of a better Guildford.
GVG Calls For Action and Open Debate
Guildford must get its act together now in the interests of business, residents, Surrey and the South East.
Let’s have the debate. Continuing congestion, an absence of ambition and delays and ad hoc development will just mean further deterioration.
Guildford businesses and people will vote with their feet. Some have already done so. Record accidents and pollution continue.
Last week in a global study Guildford was listed 6th worst for congestion in the U.K.
That’s not good for our international image. It is shown as the worst town after the major conurbations. The cost to motorists is estimated at £45million pa.
Your support matters. Only Guildford Council can set in train the features and benefits we seek, via a carefully crafted strategy and professional ‘big ticket’ delivery vehicle.
You can visit a ‘flythrough’ of our Plan at http://bit.ly/GVG_Flythrough
If you find you like our Plan please write to your local councillor and demand proper scrutiny of the options and support for ambitious ideas.
Our New Website
We’ve revamped our website with more information and help for you in writing to your councillors – please do look around.
And do get in contact with us through our Contact page, or email us at: email@example.com , if you would like any further information or would like to help us in our campaign for a better Guildford.
Please do come to our public meeting at Surrey University at 7.45pm on Wednesday March 15 to find out more about how Guildford can be developed for the better for businesses, residents and visitors, and to have your questions answered.