Solum planning appeal: Act now to prevent disaster for Guildford

Solum planning appeal: Act now to prevent disaster for Guildford

Solum planning appeal: Act now to prevent disaster for Guildford 1078 499 admin

The planning appeal is a disaster in waiting for Guildford.

A date for your diaries – Tuesday 7 November.  Two days after Bonfire Night the future of our town centre could lie in ashes. A successful appeal would allow the redevelopment of the front of Guildford Station and car park to proceed.

Footprint of proposed Solum development in Guildford, Surrey

Footprint of SOLUM development (purple blocks)

Guildford’s Own Bonfire
Many bet the Solum planning appeal will be successful, lighting the fires of unbridled town centre development. We fear developers will then use the precedent to pepperpot the centre with uncoordinated, ill-matched residential and other developments, up to ten storeys high. These would crash our creaking infrastructure and wreck our heritage setting.

New Crossing At Risk
Critically, from a GVG perspective, the opportunity will be lost to build a new crossing along the most effective route (York Rd to Guildford Park Rd).


GVG Crossing and redirected traffic

If Guildford Council loses the Solum planning appeal then SOLUM’s ten storey-high juggernaut, stretching 360 metres alongside the rail tracks, will stand in its way.

An Ugly Mass
What do ten storeys and 360 metres look like? Imagine you’re across the Thames, looking at the

Height of proposed Solum development in Guildford, Surrey

Height: Development façade (part) alongside existing Ranger House

façade of the Houses of Parliament (There was nearly a bonfire there, wasn’t there?).

Imagine it 30% longer and higher. That’s what the ugly, Stalinist mass of the SOLUM’s offices, multi-storey carpark and 438 apartments will look like.

View of effect of proposed Solum development on Guildford, Surrey

Mass & Height – view from Onslow Village

No New Station
There’s just a new booking hall. Network Rail Property’s joint venture with Kier, the construction group, provides NO new platform facilities, NO lifts, NO new pedestrian bridge, NO new west entrance, and limits station growth.  But word has it Network Rail gets a £25m dividend on top of any shared development profits.

We Need Development But Not This
We need new development in the town centre. That’s what GVG has been lobbying for.

But not SOLUM-style. We need new apartments, especially affordable homes (SOLUM wants just 10%, claiming viability concerns, vs GBC policy of 40%). But not massed as SOLUM proposes.

We Need a New Station But Not This
We need a new transport hub and interchange at the station. Not just a new booking hall.

GVG's proposed new railway station hub as part of its masterplan for Guildford, Surrey

New look Station hub – from GVG Masterplan

We need more platforms, especially on the eastern side, right where SOLUM is plonking its behemoth. It blocks new platforms and thus improved rail services (to Heathrow, around London etc).

Council Caught in Housing Headlights
The Council’s efforts have been devoted to producing a new Local Plan. GBC has been caught in the headlights of the housing number wrangle, with all the associated conflicts and concerns.

We need a working, deliverable town Masterplan. The new Local Plan hasn’t got one. There’s no real town centre plan, apart from a so-called Regeneration Strategy that GBC goes on to describe as not forming policy. We can chuck that on the bonfire as well, then. It’ll be a free for all.

The GVG Plan Deserves Proper Scrutiny
The GVG Plan and especially its crossing should receive proper scrutiny. It deserves it. Had GBC  adopted it, it might have stood a better chance of resisting SOLUM’s proposal.

The unsafe, polluting Gyratory has to go. People and vehicles don’t mix well. GVG’s new crossing fixes that.

Say No to Uncoordinated Development
Uncoordinated development will not deliver a reinvigorated riverside. It will not separate traffic and people to make life safer and healthier. It will not deliver new public squares, open spaces and boulevards. It will not deliver joined-up cycleways.

Revisit the GVG Flythrough
Do look at the GVG Flythrough again to remind

Flythrough of GVG's exciting Masterplan for Guildford, Surrey

Go to Flythrough: 

yourself how exciting the centre could look like and how re-routeing traffic could make a real difference to town centre life.

The Solum Planning Appeal – Look, Listen and Maybe Speak
The appeal is being held at the Council’s Offices at Millmead. There’s not much you can do at the appeal, unless you can afford to hire a leading planning QC. You can ask to speak but you can’t ask questions of the experts. You can listen and observe how well the Council defends its position, having refused SOLUM’s application.

What Does Your Councillor Think? Local Elections are Coming!
What does your councillor think of the GVG Masterplan? Has the Council got a better one? The next Local Elections are in 2019; not far away. Councillors should have a view on GVG’s Plan.

Worried? Let Your Councillor Know
It won’t hurt to let YOUR councillor know just how much you are worried about the development. You should ask your councillor what he or she is doing to prevent other SOLUM-like monstrosities. Ask if the new Local Plan provides any better protection?

What will win your vote? A town centre Plan? Or no Plan? Ten storey developments? Or a more coordinated, people-friendly, town centre-wide scheme? Speed humps on the Gyratory? Or a more radical, safer redirection of town traffic?

Let Us Know What You Think
Do let us know what you think. Email us on Follow us on Facebook and Twitter. Send us posts and tweets. Learn more at

View October newsletter