Thank you for all your support over the past weeks.
Your Support Keeps Us Going
We’ve received many approving comments following our two public presentations on 1 February & 15 March.
Nearly 600 people attended altogether (and over 10,000 people have watched the fly through on-line). Over half
completed our exit questionnaire.
You Like Our Plan, Our New Crossing, Our New Route
Over three quarters supported most or all of our Plan.
Over 90% were in favour of our East/West crossing. Just as heartening, the same number were in favour of the
new route for traffic around the town centre.
Our route creates a large pedestrian friendly area at the bottom of the town by the river. This is the big win for
the town. It can only be delivered by the new crossing.
That is the key element of our Plan.
You can see the Plan on our website. Do watch the exciting flythrough https://youtu.be/SExTozSKB-A
The Town Centre Is For People Not Traffic
Let’s be clear. We have not set out to cure Guildford’s traffic issues. We are not proposing new roads as a
response to traffic volumes. We firmly believe this should not be the sole dominating measure for decision
making, as some do. Our principal aim has been to give the centre of town back to people.
Priority For Pedestrians
Pedestrians should have priority and great spaces. That is what our Plan delivers, and more. Look at the
reinvigorated riverside, the traffic-free routes to the rail station from the shopping centres, the public squares,
the boulevards, the covered market place, the new housing and the new transport hub around the
station. You have got to look at our Plan from the point of view of the pedestrian and cyclist.
Our Plan May Alleviate Congestion
It just so happens that we think our new crossing and routeing of traffic might alleviate some of the worst
gyratory congestion we currently experience. We have to accept that, in the short to medium term, traffic
volumes through Guildford will increase.
GVG supports modal shift, ie better use of public transport, park & ride, cycleways and more. In fact, we
believe that our Plan accommodates the Council’s Sustainable Movement Corridor in the town centre
more effectively than presently planned. Another reason for the Council to take our Plan seriously.
When Will The Council Take Us Seriously?
And therein lies the problem for GVG. How do we get the Council to study these ideas seriously? We have
spent the last five years working up these thoughts and ideas. With the talent round the GVG table, we should
be taken seriously. We are a group of predominantly long term Guildford residents committed to seeing a
better town centre.
We have no vested interests. People have questioned our motives. That is understandable, given the level of
detail we have produced and commissioned. But that should not be surprising given the backgrounds of our
steering group members. Most, if not all, bring serious and very relevant credentials to the table and the
debate. You can read their biographies on our website.
We Have Sought Your Opinion From The Start
Right from the outset we have sought the views of residents and visitors to the town centre. We have held
public meetings to discuss the key issues. We have called for and received feedback. We have spoken with
the principal residents’ associations. All these channels have remained open. We have communicated with
people via newsletters like this, TV, local press and radio, social media, email and our website. Your
thoughts, ideas and hopes were encapsulated in our October 2013 publication ‘Guildford on the Way’, also
to be found on our website.
We Are Not Elected
The principal rebuff we receive is that we’re not elected.
That is true. We have considered seeking election, more than once. However, notwithstanding its complexity, we
are a single issue group. We are concerned only with the town centre.
We very much respect the work our Councillors do in so many other areas of public policy. We remain focused
on the town centre, and do not stray from our collective area of expertise.
We Are Voters
But we are voters, as well as council tax payers. So we feel quite entitled to ask questions of those we elected,
however unwelcome the questions may be. We are further encouraged by the feedback and level of
support for our ideas from the recent public meetings where we launched our Plan.
The town centre, the beating heart of any town, is the standard by which Guildford is judged on countless
matters by visitors, shoppers, employers and its residents. In so many aspects our centre is woeful.
County Council May Election Manifestos
The County Council elections are in May. It will be interesting to hear what each candidate has to say
about, for example, infrastructure issues. What will be their platform? How much will their manifestos have to
say about roads, especially in and around the county town? Will they address these issues from the
perspective of people, and their concerns about traffic pollution and accidents?
Infrastructure Costs Can Pay
GVG accepts it has to be realistic about how much funding is available for infrastructure. We have
recognised that in setting out our Plan. We have undertaken a build cost analysis appropriate for this
stage of our Plan. It is a suitably comprehensive costing.
The core central area envisages development to the tune of £1bn. Of that sum, around £200mill is the
infrastructure build cost – the new crossing, the new link from it to a new Farnham Road Bridge and the
realigned Town Bridge. That is the sum to be found. The rest can be self-financing, ie we expect the £800mill
build cost can be met by sales, lettings and rentals.
£200m Infrastructure Investment Reasonable
GVG maintains that, for a town that makes an annual contribution to the national economy of around £4bn,
£200m should be a reasonable amount of public investment for the town in order to help meet a goal of
substantially increasing Guildford’s economic contribution. The argument must ring true with central
government; it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity cost.
We think the amount is transformational. Our Plan creates new investment, business, jobs, training
opportunities and more community facilities, including leisure, arts, and health provision. The £200m is also a
measure of the lack of infrastructure investment over the past 30 years in the centre of Guildford.
Our Plan vs Piecemeal
There’s a lack of cohesive development. Too much has been piecemeal. For example, the Council has recently
granted itself consent for development on Guildford Park Road without much evidence of a joined-up plan
and the bigger picture. And now the Council is calling for expressions of interest from developers for 20 town
Where’s the overall plan? Where’s the approved Planning Development scheme? There’s nothing in the
draft Local Plan. GVG has been accused by certain councillors of causing town centre blight with its Plan.
Surely 20 hotchpotch schemes is the bigger blight? Do all councillors endorse this 20-site marketing exercise?
People Have Choices And Vote With Their Feet
The bottom line is important and the Council can point to its good financial record. However in the final
analysis, the longer term, it is people who matter. If people think other nearby towns provide a better, more
welcoming environment, they will vote with their feet.
People are starting to notice other towns pushing ahead and making a difference. In the online age, people can
easily scout out the best deals, whether it be shopping, eating, arts or other attractions.
The competition for your footfall and pound has never been as fierce. Business is no different, it will go where
it can best operate and where its staff feel happiest.
How Do We Get On Better With The Council?
So, what next? Well, so far you’ve given us your ideas about what you’d like to see in the town centre and
we’ve passed all our ideas on to the Council.
What we would like now is your ideas about how we could get on better with the Council. If our Plan is to
have any traction, it has to be studied properly by the Council and its officers. A closed mind approach is
inappropriate. We have had more rejections of our requests to collaborate for more years than we can
Collaboration Is Key
We try many ways to connect but it is fair to say we’re still to be persuaded of any real recognition by the
Council leadership of the benefits of collaboration or the need to debate the right plan for the town. Such
discussion should be Localism in action. Is the real problem just that it’s not their plan? It can be – very
easily; and who cares whose plan it is anyway?
Ask Your Councillor & Candidates Key Questions
Our new East/West crossing is crucial. Please ask your councillor if they support it and let us know. So many
factors make a new crossing feasible right now. If nothing happens the opportunity will disappear, quite
possibly for another 100 years.
If any of them come knocking on your door over the next four weeks, please quiz them to see if they believe
in localism and a plan for real change in our town centre. If you support open debate and having a
comprehensive Plan for the town centre, with a real intention to deliver, please say so to your councillor and
Visit Our New Website
We’ve revamped our website. The address is still the same: www.guildfordvisiongroup.com
Do visit it; You can see our Plan there.
If you haveparticular views about what we’re doing and what we’re saying, please let us know. We value your feedback.
Email us at: firstname.lastname@example.org