1. Click on this link to access the GBC Press Release which contains some very exciting news for our town and this is exactly what is right for Guildford.
GVG views this as a very positive step and we urge you to continue to stay in touch with the development of the Local Plan which should be drafted in late Spring. What does this mean? We are hopeful that Allies & Morrison, highly experienced and highly regarded Master Planners, will identify tangible solutions for Guildford for the short and long term which include long overdue updating of: traffic & transport, housing provision, retail expansion, heritage & culture, arts and entertainment.
Once the vision document has been completed in May, this is where you will, once more, have an opportunity to ‘have your say’ and we will keep you informed of developments.
Guildford Vision Group has published its vision document to help frame discussions on what Guildford should be like in the future.
Guildford on the Way – A Vision for Guildford in 2030 and beyond To be read in conjunction with Annex Document :
Complete a postcard of your own here
Guildford Vision Bemused and Dismayed by Councillors’ Intemperate Reaction to its Request to Guildford Council to Take Legal Advice
Guildford, Monday 24 June 2013:
The furore that has burst around unfortunate remarks by the Leader of the Council followed a simple request from Guildford Vision Group (GVG) that Guildford Borough Council (GBC) take legal advice about the need for public consultation.
GVG was simply exercising its democratic right to asks questions of the Council. Ironically, the question was about a document on public consultation on major planning matters on which GBC has chosen not to publicly consult. On Thursday evening, 20 June, the Guildford Borough Council (GBC) Executive adopted two core statutory documents in relation to the new Local Plan process. One was the Local Development Scheme (LDS), the other the Statement of Community Involvement (SCI). The latter document – called ‘Community Involvement in Planning’ by GBC – sets out how the Council will consult and involve residents in creating the Local Plan and related major planning matters. The SCI included a small but important number of changes to the previous version (adopted in July 2011 following public consultation). The changes have been driven by the Government’s new National Planning Policy Framework as well as its Localism agenda which spawned key statutory Regulations introduced in April 2012. All local councils, so far as GVG can establish, have complied with the 2012 Regulations by inviting public consultation on their new or revised SCIs. Ahead of the Executive meeting, GVG therefore asked that GBC seek its own legal advice on the public consultation point. GBC did confirm, a few hours before the Executive meeting, that it had been advised that ‘no express statutory duty to consult’ existed. Having asked the council to point to other examples of SCIs being adopted without consultation, none have been provided. “We just asked the question, concerned that GBC was not following the consultation route adopted by other councils,” said John Rigg, chairman of GVG. “We made no ‘threats’, so the reaction of certain councillors at the meeting is mystifying. In our letter we did point out the history of past poor advice to the Executive on the requirements of the 2012 Regulations. Indeed, the current Executive, whose views we share on the need for exciting growth and new development, came into being as a result of GVG’s past intervention. Good growth needs good governance and GVG will continue to question GBC ‘s actions whenever we see the door being opened to bad development.”
GVG remains concerned that any planning policy documents subsequently adopted by the Council that rely on the new SCI might not be robust, and thus open to challenge by developers. This could include any document intended to form part of the new Local Plan which the council is about to promote. Another concern of GVG is that the un-consulted LDS fails to include separate Local Development Plan documents (Area Action Plans) for areas earmarked for regeneration, including the Town Centre and Slyfield. Public comment and shaping of any scheme may therefore only be available at the much later planning stage, when the ability for the community to influence is much reduced without recourse to the Courts.GVG made informal approaches to the Council last Tuesday which received no reply, and so sent their own letter to the Council’s (interim) Head of Legal raising these concerns. The Council’s much feared ‘avaricious’ developers will certainly circle if the new Local Plan documents setting out the development, scope and planning regime for the Borough, omit key areas or are found to be not fit for purpose as a result of inadequate process.
-Ends- Notes for Editors
1. Re the SCI: these amendments are needed as the Localism Act and the National Planning Policy Framework have significantly altered the planning regime in which the council have to operate. Regulations introduced by Parliament and applying from April 2012 specify how local plans as widely defined in the regulations are to be introduced
2. It is interesting to note that a late additional recommendation to the Executive by officers was accepted at the meeting on Thursday and gives approval to ‘make such further minor amendments..[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][to the SCI]..as [they] may deem necessary’ without committee approval
3. Public consultation is also a particular issue with the Local Plan documents in the LDS, where they are subject to independent examination and scrutiny by the Secretary of State. At worst Local Plan documents could be held invalid, and frustrate the Executive’s ambitions for the Borough; again, ironically, ambitions shared by GVG
4. Guildford Vision Group (GVG) was formed with the sole purpose of promoting Guildford’s urgent need for a long term vision in which the sustainable vitality of the town and its enterprise is ensured for the next 30 years and beyond. GVG is independent, and has no political affiliations or vested interests
5. Further information available at www.guildfordvisiongroup.com
6. Contact: Yvonka Wilkinson, Campaign Manager, Vision for Guildford Ltd on 07767 251040[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]
Press Release 130422 Guildford Vision Welcomes North Street Developer Choice Review and Calls for Evaluation Reassessment
GVG letter appealing to the Secretary of State over the stopping up of roads and a footpath linking York Road and Haydon Place
Guildford Vision Group has responded to the Consultation Draft Scoping Report for the Local Plan and its corresponding Sustainability Analysis prepared by URS on behalf of Guildford Borough Council.
If you think the first paragraph of this post is long-winded and unapproachable, just take a look at the document in question here!
After a consultation period, yet again spanning the Christmas holidays, Guildford Vision Group has highligbhted some serious shortcomings in the document – much of the problem stemming from a lack of structured and holistic planning, a failure to fully grasp the issues of transportation and some selective references to the Evidence Base.
You can read our Response to Scoping Document here.
Letter to the Surrey Advertiser dated 19th November
We desperately need a plan for Guildford. All of your first page of letters (16 November) were about this in one way or another. First of all, we should appreciate Guildford for what it is. It is a smallish market town and has been for over a thousand years. It is the county town of Surrey, and was the only town for several centuries, and it is not a city. City status would do nothing for us, and think of the cost of re-branding GBC! The historical background is important in understanding how Guildford has evolved and it is an asset which should be cherished. We should not be trying to increase the shopping space by 60% when there are around 25 empty shops in the town centre, a couple of temporary shops and now, worst of all, a ‘Pound shop’. Worst because of what it says about the national and local economy.
As Alderman Bridger has done, we should study what the town does well, and what it needs. Why should the only answer be to make ourselves prisoners of international companies who will invest, or not, in Guildford for their own benefit, not ours, regardless of the effect on the town? The area north of North Street has been blighted for years, including rows of perfectly good houses. The site of the old CEGB building on Portsmouth Road has also been empty for years. What we need in Guildford is a lot more housing in the town centre, which will encourage more firms to move to the area, and improvements to the traffic. We need facilities for the elderly, who have been forced out of the town centre by GBC. We need lots of independent shops which will encourage shoppers who can’t find that elsewhere. The Friary Centre is quite big enough for chains of shops. We should encourage the cultural facilities currently being down-graded by GBC. No-one would take a city seriously which gets rid of its orchestra and has a splendid Guildhall which is hardly ever open to the public. Thank goodness that the Guildford Vision Group is looking for a bolder vision for the town.
Guildford Vision Group this evening sent the attached document by email to each member of the Planning Committee:
This is by no means an anti-Waitrose objection; we simply believe the wrong development on the wrong site could break the fragile traffic system in Guildford.
The application will be heard at the Planning Meeting tomorrow (6th November) at Guildford Borough Council.
Guildford, Monday 5 November 2012: The quality of GBC planning advocacy is again being called into question. Scrutiny of the expert traffic advice for the Waitrose store application before GBC’s Planning Committee tomorrow night (Tuesday, 6th November) shows that council officers have not revealed the full traffic congestion impact of the proposed development in their recommendation for approval.
GBC planning officers state that any congestion caused by the additional traffic is not likely to be ‘severe’ enough to make a case for refusal.
But in making that judgement, there’s one key assumption that really should be challenged. The assessment of traffic flows west out of the site towards the York Road/Woodbridge Road roundabout assumes that the traffic has an uninterrupted flow along Onslow Street into the gyratory system. read more
At the Planning Committee next Tuesday, 6th November, councillors have a golden opportunity to set the town on a new path, to take the first step to ensure our town flourishes well into the 21st century, and to open an exciting new era of attractive, pedestrian and business-friendly planning in the town centre.
Their first step must be to reject Waitrose’s application for a supermarket on the Bellerby Theatre site along with 168 surface parking spaces.
There really can be no sense in adding to the two main challenges Guildford faces – congestion and insufficient housing that local employees can afford.
However you play around with the traffic studies, across the fragile town centre gyratory and feeder system, it’s plain that congestion, and pedestrian and cyclist safety, in York Road and the surrounding streets will get worse, not better. You don’t have to be a traffic engineer to work that out. It’s bad planning. read more
Next Tuesday Guildford Borough Council’s Planning Committee will decide whether to grant planning permission for a retail led mixed use development on the Bellerby Theatre site. The principal component is an out of town format (trolley-based) Waitrose foodstore with 168 surface car spaces accessed by a new traffic light junction half way up York Road between Woodbridge Road and Stoke Road.
In many ways the decision to be made by the Planning Committee next week draws comparisons with the decision the Executive Committee were asked to make on 6th September to adopt the Interim Town Centre Framework in which the Bellerby Theatre site also featured.
In both cases a single planning officer has waded through lengthy and conflicting representations made for and against the particular proposal and came up with a recommendation in a report to the Councillor decision takers. In both cases the electorate, the vast majority of whom have qualifications or experience other than that related to planning, have been presented with the product of many months work and expected to comprehend that product and respond to it in a matter of days. In both cases the opportunity for concerned residents and local traders to have their say is restricted to a few slots of three minutes at the relevant committee hearing. read more
Keep all supermarkets out of town and fill the town centre with a good mix of smaller shops, cafes and deli’s
Wouldn’t it make sense to have all supermarkets, including Waitrose, on the edges of the town where access for customers and deliveries would be easier? That would leave the town centre area off North Street available for becoming a decent sized town square. This could well have shops around, smaller shops that could serve most people’s immediate needs. This might include cafes, deli’s, grocers but not more shoe and designer clothes shops. The town would then have a more open feel to it. The edge of town stores could then all be served by free, or nearly free, minibuses like the airport car parking model. No need to have the big buses we have now clogging up the streets but smaller, more versatile ones running all day as required. That way all the residents within the town could easily do a major shop, instant needs would be met by small town centre shops and ideas such as the new Waitrose wouldn’t need to clog up the town with associated traffic. It would of course help if shop rents around my suggested open area were reasonably low so that the types of shops I mentioned could afford to be there and also some management of the types of shops that could be there. Otherwise we end up with a town we have now, full of designer shops, jewellers and shoes shops but nothing actually useful.
I suspect there are too many vested interests for many ideas to come to fruition but there’s no harm in dreaming.
Press Release 121002 ‘Let’s tackle the traffic’ is the main message from Guildford Vision Group’s latest street survey
A big thank you to everyone who came to our open workshop today (which turned out to be even more open than planned – outside St Marys church off the High Street on a beautiful day).
A lot of excellent feedback – all comments matter and will be gathered together to provide a record of the event and will be used to help inform us of our next steps. We will also make sure that the Council has a set of data and we hope that they will recognise the value and, frankly, the need for a wider, more comprehensive exercise.
Allies and Morrison gave their time to us and John Rigg organised with them to produce some excellent graphics which served to show some examples of just what could be possible with the wider community and with proper professional master planners.
Thanks once again to you all and to our volunteers and to St Marys.
Thanks for your session at St.Mary’s today. Your literature I was given reminds me of our riverside (one does tend to forget about, doesn’t one, with most of it being a bit drab in the town centre apart from the nice bit around the Town Lock at Millmead). But yes It reminds me that I’ve often thought in the past when walking by the riverside how little we make of it apart from the specific landmarks of the old loading bay at Town Wharf, the pleasant area immediately around the lock, and the riverside patio at the Weyside Inn or whatever it’s now called (aka “The Jolly Farmer” of old) if you can afford their prices. Neither the White House nor the George Abbot pub nor the Britannia pub make attractive riverside locations, all for a start being on the wrong side to catch the afternoon sun, quite apart from the car parks between the last two and the river. Could what was the old people’s place be turned into an attractive riverside café? Actualy to be fair the Electric Theatre café does provide a pleasant terrace for a riverside afternoon tea, but it’s tucked away so doesn’t seem to get much custom when I’ve used it, apart from when people come along for a performance. Could we create a pedestrian through route along that side of the river, as far as Dapdune Wharf?
H. Trevor Jones