Walnut Tree Close, Guildford, tower block proposal

What future for Guildford now the tower blocks are arriving?

What future for Guildford now the tower blocks are arriving? 1155 453 admin

2018 is the Chinese Year of the Dog and we’ve started with a dog of a development.

Who Let The Dog Out?

The Solum development appeal by Guildford Borough Council (GBC) was lost and planning permission for the ten storey, 300 metre monster development approved by the Appeal Inspector. The Solum scheme potentially blocks one of the very few transport solutions for the town, our region, and the local economy and raises health & safety concerns.

You will have hopefully seen the letter GVG wrote to The Guildford Dragon in which we analysed how we believe the appeal was lost and what lessons there are to be learnt for the future. If not, please do read it. Go to

GVG is all for new housing and development in the town centre. We’ve been advocating it for the past six years. But let’s have it managed via a comprehensive adopted masterplan. We’ve drawn our own up, as you know.

Indeed, the Inspector offered us words of encouragement: ‘There is much to commend the GVG approach, both in exploring legitimate aspirational objectives for the town centre and as a vehicle for engaging local people in the strategic planning process.’

But he could not help us further as our masterplan, in particular the GVG crossing linking York Road to Guildford Park Road/Madrid Road, does not have the backing of GBC (nor, as a result, SCC, Network Rail and our LEP which offers infrastructure grants).

GBC Should Take The Lead
We do believe it’s time for GBC to sit down again with us and engage in meaningful discussions. Our masterplan has moved on since meetings ended.

At the Appeal hearing we had said the Solum development was ‘premature’. We said it should await any decisions that emerge from the upcoming Local Plan examination in April/May. We intend to present our masterplan there to give our town a sustainable chance in the decades ahead.

If our new crossing was included in the emerging Local Plan, ie had the support of GBC, then the Inspector acknowledged that the prematurity argument was an option that might have had some weight. Thus one argument for turning down the appeal was lost unnecessarily.

Who Will Be Sniffing Around Now?
Solum is now a precedent, especially in terms of new building height. Don’t be surprised to see opportunistic tower block planning applications popping up from now on. There’s one application already in for twelve storeys in Walnut Tree Close for 190 new homes – see the featured picture with this blog.

The Plaza site, off the Old Portsmouth Road and now approved, will be nine storeys.

But we have to keep on saying it. GVG is not against new homes in the town centre. Indeed our masterplan provides 2,000 more new homes in the centre, on brownfield sites, than the number GBC have in the draft Local Plan.

We don’t support twelve storeys; we don’t support ten storeys. We do support four or five storeys in the town centre, rising to seven or eight around the Ladymead area, as our plan shows.

It’s All Fresh Air
GBC is launching its new Air Quality Strategy. All good stuff you’d no doubt agree, including encouraging electric car use, for instance, and modal shift. But the Strategy also includes, as a key initiative, ‘developing a framework with partners to monitor roadside air quality in the Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area’.

What seems to be missing is any monitoring of roadside air quality in the town centre. The four bird nests in the SPA look to benefit, but the fledgling adults to be found at the bottom of Bridge Street lose out. Whose future is more precious and valuable?

Common sense would suggest any monitoring of air quality should be at the most likely areas of high pollution concentration. Which would you pick? Whitmoor Common or Walnut Tree Close? Brookwood Heath or Bridge Street? Ockham Common or outside Debenhams?

A recent University of Surrey study suggested that Guildford Town Centre was one of the most polluted areas in the county, if not the country.

The emerging Local Plan has nothing on this subject yet it is probably among the most critical health & safety issues facing us in the town. Indeed the Local Plan is quite silent on the centre. GVG has advocated modal shift right from the start, but in a stance balanced with realities.

We’ve Got Our Nose Down
The upcoming Local Plan examination is taking up a lot of our time. We plan to raise the lack of any real, coordinated plan for the town centre. The lack of real infrastructure initiatives is disturbing.

There are some plans just now under consultation where SCC will jiggle with some junctions on the approaches to Guildford, eg at this end of the Blackwater Valley route. There are going to be some pavement-level tables inset in the road at the Bridge St/Onslow Rd junctions. A right turn out of Millbrook car park has just started being constructed.

While collectively quite probably useful, none solve the problem of how do you – for safety’s sake – separate people and cars in the town centre? That is one of the principal objects of the GVG corridor, routeing traffic to the west side of the station and river. It allows wide pedestrianisation of the bottom of the High St, along to North St. and reconnects people with the river on both sides by Town Wharf. It also enables very useful cycle paths in the centre.

Our new north/south corridor – including the famous GVG crossing – would shift vehicles to the edge of the town centre, directing cars away from people:

This leaves the bottom of the High Street and North Street down to the riverside free and healthier for pedestrians and cyclists. Our new routeing should also reduce the high levels of accidents and congestion. The latter costs motorists and employers £44million per annum (2017 Inrix survey).

The new corridor is the great enabler, opening up valuable development land for residential and commercial uses, as well public green space. It can mostly be built without disturbing existing roads, which is a great benefit.

We’re Trying To Lick Social Media
We’ve worked at building quite a following via Twitter and Facebook over the past six months.

We recognise that there’s a big potential audience out there that we must reach out to; those who want to make Guildford work better for them, for example; especially busy people with young families, and young professionals. Do tweet us!

We Wouldn’t Mind A Treat Or Two
The Solum Appeal and the upcoming Local Plan Examination are costly exercises. We employ experts for advice and advocacy. The Local Plan Examination is likely to cost £50,000, if not more. With the generosity of a few over the past six years we’ve coped so far. If you are a supporter and feeling generous, we’d love to hear from you. Please email

See us at:

A sad day for Guildford as Solum wins appeal

A sad day for Guildford as Solum wins appeal 1920 1440 admin

Solum wins appeal: A sad day for our town

Guildford, Monday 22 January 2018: Guildford Vision Group (GVG) wants to see an integrated transport hub at the station, with much better facilities for all travellers. The Solum development, now approved following the company’s appeal against GBC planning refusal, makes that goal all the more difficult.

The Solum win sets a retrograde tone, not just for the important station site, but for all future town centre development.
Opportunistic developers will seize on the Solum precedent, with its unremarkable and unappealing architecture, to bring forward more dominating 10 storey and higher developments in the middle of the town.

Expensive defeat
Solum predictably succeeded at this expensive council defeat because Guildford Borough Council failed to put in place adequate planning policies and controls to properly manage schemes of this scale.
The extremely costly new Local Plan, recently submitted for examination by a planning Inspector, still contains little to suggest that situation will change.
The Plan is virtually silent on the redevelopment of the town centre.

Fear for our town
“This is a sad day for Guildford”, said John Rigg, chairman of GVG. “I fear for our town. We don’t even get a state of the art station out of it. We welcome new homes, but the main result here is a 300 metre, ten storey wall that will block and spoil important cross-town views. It will add to congestion, pollution and accidents on the failing gyratory, arguably one of the worst black spots in Surrey. It will add additional load to the already failing Farnham Road Bridge.
The town centre needs a proper plan. It’s needed one for years. We’ve seen nothing so far that addresses the key issues. We’re left with piecemeal development, which is not the right way forward.
The question remains what do we get for the millions GBC’s planning activities cost?”

GVG Masterplan
GVG launched its own masterplan for the town centre in February last year, winning much support from residents and others.
In the GVG plan the station becomes a proper transport hub and interchange, with much better access and facilities for all travellers.
Station land is developed on both East and West sides in a coordinated way.
This mirrors Network Rail’s Chairman Sir Peter Hendy’s declared aim to see station land used productively and sustainably in the wider interests of a town centre and stakeholders.
Sadly the Network Rail and Solum scheme takes operational land and uses it principally for commercial and residential development, perhaps reflecting Treasury pressure on Network Rail just to find cash.

Exciting options
The key to the GVG approach is the new East/West corridor across the railway and river. It relieves the ailing gyratory and enables a range of exciting options.
Not least it enables better, safer traffic-free corridors for pedestrians and cyclists across town but especially from the retail centre to the station.
The riverside can also be opened up for much more public enjoyment, along with allowing other new green public spaces as well as a modern, open covered market.

GVG also recognises that extra housing in the town centre is vital. In adopting a holistic rather than piecemeal approach in its masterplan, GVG claims its scheme will provide around 2,000 more homes in the centre to relieve the Green Belt than the submitted Local Plan. Crucially, the GVG plan does not involve heights greater than five storeys in places.
That is similar to the town centre plan, especially at the station, outlined in the Allies & Morrison study commissioned and approved by GBC but sadly, and crucially, not formally adopted as planning policy.

View of effect of proposed Solum development on Guildford, Surrey

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

Guildford Vision Group Newsletter logo

Guildford Local Plan: Update August 2017

Guildford Local Plan: Update August 2017 210 72 admin

Does the £3m, 10-year Guildford Local Plan deliver?

We’ve just submitted our detailed comments on the latest Guildford Local Plan draft. You can find our comments in the download section of our website here: They make interesting reading.
The Draft Guildford Local Plan can be found on the Council’s website.
It’s been the third opportunity to comment on the Council’s draft since it started life ten years ago. A protracted and expensive exercise (believed to be costing £3m for consultancy) has produced a Plan that is lacking in many crucial elements. It has little aspiration or vision for what Guildford, especially the Town Centre, could be like by the middle of the century.

A Proper Plan Is Vital
Surveys repeatedly show the infrastructure deficit is cramping business plans and making the town centre less pleasant.

An agreed Local Plan is vital for Guildford. It unlocks government funding, allows informed decisions to be made on planning issues, and identifies critical infrastructure investment necessary to enhance the town’s prosperity and attractiveness.

Sadly, we fear the Guildford Local Plan is set to fail the town centre.  Although there are some nuggets of hope and progress, the latest Plan just isn’t ambitious enough when it comes to the centre.

No Policy Is No Policy
GVG is all about creating a wonderful town centre, the very heart of our borough, and making it safe, vibrant, sustainable and attractive. Remember the six goals we set ourselves for the centre. It is by these that we have judged the Guildford Local Plan:

  1. Wider pedestrianisation of the town centre
  2. Exciting new public space and a reinvigorated riverside
  3. Redirection of traffic away from the town centre
  4. An integrated road and rail hub
  5. More town centre housing
  6. A new bridge for a better East-West link

The Town Centre must be properly planned. There are major components missing, e.g. agreement with Highways England on improvements to local road network.  In its latest draft Local Plan Guildford Council is relying just on piecemeal development, supported by a Town Centre Regeneration Strategy it hasn’t actually adopted as policy!

Councillors must be questioned as to why they approved the Plan draft if its proposals won’t determine the path of either planning or planning applications in the centre. An unambitious, piecemeal Plan is insufficient to address current failures or to ensure our town is fit for the 21st century.

Town Centre First
The National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) is very clear on the role which town centres have to play in the growth of boroughs:

‘Local planning authorities should plan positively, to support town centres to … create attractive, diverse places where people want to live, visit and work.

.. and plan to meet the needs of main town centre uses in full … adopting a ‘town centre first’ approach and taking account of specific town centre policy.’

GVG struggles to discern any ‘town centre first’ or policy approach by the Council and believes Guildford will be the poorer as a result.

GVG has developed a master plan that it believes should be properly considered as a contribution to a more comprehensive and sounder plan for the town centre.

We want to make our robust case and to facilitate this GVG has engaged PRP, a respected planning consultancy, to help us scrutinise the local plan, judge its contents against other towns and to make fair representations. PRP has also marshalled our contribution to the Reg. 19 consultation just closed.

Some Examples Of Where The Draft Guildford Local Plan Fails:
a) North Street – A Centre For Tomorrow, Not Today
GVG left the area out of its masterplan on the basis that a scheme was about to be announced. The Local Plan has a very ambitious target for new retail space of 41,000sq metre, the planned volume for the North St site and almost half as much town centre retail space as exists today. So all our new retail eggs will be in one North St basket.

But our main concern is that retail is changing dramatically due to on-line retailing, nowhere more so than the US where department stores, retail chains, and malls are in serious trouble. We lead the US in online retailing so are we heading for a North St fall before the scheme has got off the ground?

M&G and GBC have some interesting designs for their new mall on North Street, but should it be a much more mixed development – commercial, retail, leisure and housing in a mix that introduces attractive public realm and community assets? Guildford lacks modern attractive commercial space. Maybe this is part of the answer for North Street.

b) Housing to Help, Brownfield Best
The Council’s draft Local Plan misses a timely opportunity to bring much needed housing to the centre in a proper joined-up, brownfield plan to the detriment of the Green Belt.

GVG believes that its comprehensive, carefully constructed and co-ordinated masterplan can deliver, for example, around 2,000 more homes in the town than the amount set out in the draft Guildford Local Plan. That would save either Blackwell Farm or Wisley.

Our housing proposals are sensitive to their setting, draw on sustainable criteria and redress one of the most crucial challenges for our town. Our masterplan puts brownfield first and development in a safer, more attractive riverside environment.

c) Our Crossing – We’re Cross
Our new East/West crossing hardly merits a mention in the Guildford Local Plan. This is despite earnest arguments for it in the two previous consultations and the overwhelming support for it – 90% plus – at the two public meetings we held earlier this year. We have the supportive opinion of well-qualified professionals and organisations.

Meanwhile the pressing need remains to tackle growing congestion and record pollution and accidents in the heart of our town.

Our crossing enables so many benefits – wider, safer and healthier pedestrianisation, better cycleways, and a revitalised railway station and hub/interchange with buses. It brings great public space along the river, with an open market and new green spaces.

d) What the Guildford Local Plan leaves out
The Draft Plan is striking in what is left out, including potential development areas in the centre.  Some areas are needlessly divided. Developing the east and west sides of station separately doesn’t make sense.  The Plan is silent on any real detail on key infrastructure, eg roads, flood defences and renewable energy.

Let’s Talk
Despite the best efforts of a number of people, we struggle to have sensible conversations and debate with Council Leaders over the good ideas in our masterplan. Indeed there is a reluctance to allow officers and others to talk to us. This reluctance now seemingly extends to County Council officers.

As part of the process to develop and approve a Local Plan, it is a statutory requirement for the Council to consult.  GBC appears to be failing to meet this requirement.

It is ridiculous that we should have to turn to Freedom of Information and other statute-backed requests for key information. Aren’t we all on the same side?

We apologise to the Council if they find our proposals too challenging or radical but we believe there is a need for interrogation of the direction of travel proposed by the Council and its leaders.

No one should doubt our conviction that something must be done to reinvigorate our town centre. Guildford is the regional hub. It should be a centre of growth and progress. As we fall short in our plans, other centres are getting ahead while our outlook is currently just further deterioration. This is simply not good enough. We should be hungry for progress.

The Next Steps
The GVG Steering Group continues to meet weekly in pursuit of its goals. We hope to be more active via social media to ensure we meet as wide an audience as possible. We do welcome feedback from you and all in the community.

We would like help on funding or fund raising, expertise in social media or professional skills in the built environment.  In turn, we hope you will spread the word about our masterplan for the town centre. We need as much support as we can muster so we really can make our masterplan yours.

Our website has full details of our masterplan plus a very exciting ‘flythrough’ of the core of the town here:  It shows what might be achieved via a joined-up plan.

You can contact us at by email:

GVG newsletter August 2017

GVG responds to the council’s Local Plan

GVG responds to the council’s Local Plan 1920 1440 Lisa Flounders

GVG has prepared a response to Guildford Borough Council’s Local Plan.

GVG response: Guildford Borough Council Proposed Submission Local Plan, Regulation 19 Consultation Response

Ask your candidate searching questions in the Guildford elections - photo of ballot box

Guildford elections: Questions and issues for candidates

Guildford elections: Questions and issues for candidates 1053 574 admin

The Guildford elections 2017

Beware Callers!
Your front door will be working overtime over the next few weeks as eager County and National candidates and committed canvassers for the Guildford elections make their calls and litter your letterbox with election promises.

Local Matters Matter
While Brexit, the NHS, social care, taxes, schools and benefits are all important, let’s not lose focus on key local matters.

The Town Centre Matters
GVG thinks Guildford Town Centre and its future is sufficiently important to merit attention in both elections. Guildford town contributes £4bn to the national economy each year.
The centre of Guildford is a big business, thanks to many fine enterprises including the University, Research Park and commercial and retail businesses.

Hustings – We’ve Got A Problem
We’ve got the draft Local Plan with its ambitions for new housing (but not much else), with all the extra pressures that will bring on our already struggling infrastructure.
Guildford’s a big transport hub that’s going to get bigger.
It’s a place that people still want to visit to enjoy its fine heritage and sylvan surroundings.
It contributes to our society in so many ways. But we are told it has the worst congestion of any town in the UK, with record accidents and fatalities in the centre.
Commuter congestion is costing drivers £45m a year.

Challenge The Candidates On The Town Centre
So challenge the candidates in both of the Guildford elections on what they plan to do to improve the quality of life in the town centre and to make it better and safer for people and not an ugly canyon for cars.

What Are They Going To Do About The Centre?
When are they going to do something about it?
How are they going to make things better for pedestrians and cyclists?
Or are they happy just to report on their pothole strategy, vague road improvements and how nice the setts in the High Street look now (which they do).

Your Vote Should Count
The temptation for all of us is to vote tribally. But you should let the candidates know you care about our town and in giving your loyalty you expect results.

Separate People And Cars
To see how people and cars can be separated better and safely you only have to look at the GVG Plan.
Have the candidates in the Guildford elections actually looked at it?
Please ask them and let us know what they say.
You can see a ‘flythrough’ of our plans here on our website and at – please do have a look!

The Cost Of The GVG Plan Brings Benefits
We won’t be surprised if they say our ambitious Plan, with all its big community wins, is too expensive.
There’s a figure going round of £1bn to improve and remodel the core of the town centre below the High St and North St across to the railway station.
That’s true and we first quoted it after commissioning a consultant’s report.

£200 Million Puts People First
But the key figure within that sum is nearer £200 million.
That’s the infrastructure cost of removing the conflict between people and cars to achieve the benefit of a more pedestrian-friendly town centre plus a revitalised riverside.
That’s the cost of putting people first and taking record pollution and congestion out of areas like Bridge St and Onslow St by way of a new East/West crossing and associated improvements.

Guildford Can Afford It
The local council could easily manage funding or borrowing at that level for such an important investment.
National and county government should also see it as a worthwhile investment, along with our Local Enterprise Partnership.

Great Development Pays
The other £800m is the cost of new homes, shops and offices that should be met by income from sales, leases and rents in an exciting, co-ordinated development that delivers a market place, squares, boulevards and a leisurely riverside experience.

The Council Has To Commit
GVG knows of developers happy to contemplate development on that scale.
But GVG also knows that no developer would commit and put up the funds without the wholehearted support and involvement of the local council.
The latter would have to be seriously committed.
Are the candidates you are seeing in the Guildford elections committed?

Bold Beats Piecemeal Planning
GVG wants to see a bold plan for the centre, with great wins for the community, not piecemeal development like the council is planning.
They are currently seeking developer interest in 20 sites in and around the centre.
Not exactly joined-up planning, is it?
Where are the community wins in that?

Guildford Elections – Six Questions For Candidates
So back to the candidates knocking on your door or addressing you at the hustings. Ask them, either directly or by email:
1. What is your plan for the town centre? How ambitious is it?
2. How will you tackle the blight of the gyratory, its congestion, poor safety and pollution?
3. Do you back a £200 million infrastructure spend for the town centre such as proposed by GVG, with all its big wins?
4. Why does GVG’s Plan struggle to win councillor support and interest?
5. Why can’t the council and the county council (they do roads, along with Highways) get together to create a better plan than GVG’s?
6. Given its importance, isn’t it time Guildford was more in direct control of its future? Isn’t better localism needed? What changes would you call for?

Please Help Us To Help You
There is a chance for the future of Guildford to feature in the elections.
So please help us.
Put the questions we’ve set out to the candidates for the Guildford elections, be they county or country.
Don’t let them get away with waffle – pin them down to a meaningful commitment.

We Need Feedback
Feed back their response to us at and we will keep you posted via our website and blog.

View election special newsletter

(Photo credit: brands2life)

GVG update: April 2017

GVG update: April 2017 1920 1440 admin

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

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
centre sites.
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
the candidates.

Visit Our New Website
We’ve revamped our website. The address is still the same:
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:

View newsletter

A better Guildford for businesses and people

A better Guildford for businesses and people 917 615 admin

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:

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:

  1. Wider pedestrianisation of the town centre
  2. Exciting new public space and a reinvigorated riverside
  3. Redirection of traffic away from the town centre
  4. An integrated road and rail hub
  5. More town centre housing
  6. 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

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: , 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.  

Public meeting at University of Surrey 15 March 2017 – your chance to see Guildford Vision Group’s new plans

Public meeting at University of Surrey 15 March 2017 – your chance to see Guildford Vision Group’s new plans 650 919 admin

YOU ARE INVITED – Guildford Vision Group meeting at University of Surrey

Event: Additional public meeting to launch the Guildford Vision Group’s detailed Town Centre Plan

Venue: Main Lecture Theatre, Rik Medlik Building, University of Surrey Stag Hill Campus, GU2 7XH

Date: Wednesday 15 March 2017

Time: 7.45pm

Parking: Free parking on campus site, close by Rik Medlik Building

We’re holding another meeting to introduce the GVG Town Centre Plan. Please do come!

We know quite a number of people were unable to make our previous event because of work, parking and other reasons so we’ve set up this second showing.

David Leonard, of Leonard Design Architects, will again present our exciting and ambitious Plan to make the town centre much more pedestrian- friendly and transform the riverside.

We will also cover some of the questions and points raised at the first meeting on Feb 1 so you’re very welcome to come to see the presentation again.

You can download a copy of the invitation to this public meeting here>>

and learn more about GVG’s objectives for its Plan in this useful handout here>>.

All parking and visitor info can be found at

Public meeting: March 2017

Launch of Guildford Vision Group’s Revitalising Town Centre Plan

Launch of Guildford Vision Group’s Revitalising Town Centre Plan 1920 987 admin

On Wednesday 1 February 2017, in front of nearly 400 residents in a packed hall, Guildford Vision Group (GVG) launched its plan to revitalise Guildford town centre.

Many others watched the live streaming from the Millmead Baptist Centre, carried by Get Surrey on its Facebook page, with nearly 9,000 hits already for the recording.

The detailed Plan, drawn up by David Leonard and his team at internationally-recognised Leonard Design Architects, picks up on the themes of Guildford Borough Council’s approved Masterplan.

GVG was instrumental in persuading the Council to commission the Masterplan which, interestingly, has not been adopted as planning policy.

Central to GVG’s Plan is creating a new East/West crossing linking York Road with Guildford Park Road. The new link is the core of a new road layout that takes traffic away from the town centre allowing much more of the centre, including the riverside and right up to the station, to be better pedestrianised.

The GVG Plan delivers five new squares, two acres of open space, and 1500 metres of revitalised riverside around a redeveloped Town Wharf.

“The Plan is a bold one, it’s ambitious,” says John Rigg, GVG chairman. “The new bridge, for instance, delivers huge benefits. At a stroke, it tackles the considerable infrastructure deficit in the town centre.
“The questionnaire, completed by over half of the attendees, revealed 94% supported the new East/West crossing and 92% supported the new route for traffic that would leave the centre free for pedestrians.
“Over 75% liked all or most of the GVG Plan – that’s great support for the proposals that tackle the infrastructure deficit of decades and free up the town from through traffic.
“They’re a forerunner to creating new residential quarters and commercial space in a regenerated town centre.”

The GVG Plan delivers significant development.

It creates nearly 3,000 new homes plus commercial, leisure and retail opportunities – with a considerable uplift in business rates and council tax, as well as employment, through the scope for new businesses and activities.

The GVG Plan area is mostly away from the historic core and poses little threat to the town’s heritage.

It respects Guildford’s well-loved setting and views. Indeed GVG claims that its Plan brings much need investment to tired areas which have unexciting mixed use, along with unappealing design and architecture.

These areas are occupied mostly by ageing government buildings and surface car parks.

Network Rail also could frustrate the £2bn regeneration project if it is not open to cooperation with the town.

GVG sees its Plan as a ‘once in a generation’ opportunity to really make a difference to the centre of town and to banish cars away from the riverside and infamous gyratory.

See a spectacular ‘fly through’ and commentary on the Plan at

GVG has presented its Plan to the Guildford Borough Executive, councillors and officers.

It is now waiting to see if the Borough Council will want to give serious consideration to its Plan, which incorporates all of the Council’s regeneration ideas.

GVG hopes it will lead to the Plan’s adoption as planning policy and beyond to delivery.

GVG’s next goal is to advance the study of the viability, funding and deliverability of the phases of the project. It will also seek a consensus on the most suitable vehicle which might deliver coordinated town centre regeneration on the scale envisaged and illustrated by its Plan.

This could be by way of a development corporation, Town Council or an Area Action Plan under current planning legislation all of which are used by other councils across the U.K.


Notes for Editors 1. Guildford Vision Group (GVG) was formed five years ago 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

2. Leonard Design Architects is an 80-strong practice with offices in London, Nottingham, Kuala Lumpur and Melbourne. Its work ranges from designing large scale master plans and major mixed use developments (including public transport interchanges) to smaller developments in sensitive and historic locations. Notable developments undertaken include Westfield London and Stratford City. It is currently working on major developments in London and the UK, plus in Ireland, Norway, Denmark, Poland, Italy, Korea, Malaysia and Australia.

Guildford Vision Group fly through – video of new plans for Guildford

Guildford Vision Group fly through – video of new plans for Guildford 998 558 admin

Take a bird’s eye view of exciting new 3D plans for Guildford town centre with this Guildford Vision Group fly through from Leonard Design Architects

Watch our video fly through of the new Masterplan which opens up the riverside and makes the town centre safer and more enjoyable with open spaces, squares and pedestrianisation.

Please note that this is computer generated imagery, it is not a detailed or finalised view.

In real life, of course, the open spaces will feature flowers, shrubs, lawns, sculptures and fountains, and the buildings will be designed with architecture and materials to work with their surroundings.

Please do visit our How You Can Help page to see how YOU can make a difference to turning this vision into reality.

Guildford Vision Group fly through video:

Watch the video of the launch of Guildford Vision Group’s plans for Guildford, Surrey, town centre

Watch the video of the launch of Guildford Vision Group’s plans for Guildford, Surrey, town centre 999 562 admin

Guildford Vision Group video of Masterplan launch event

Guildford Vision Group launched its plans for creating a better Guildford by pedestrianising the town centre and opening up the riverside at an event attended by hundreds of people, and watched on live streaming by thousands more, on Wednesday 1 February 2017.

Here you can watch the Guildford Vision Group video recording of this great event to see the Group’s plans and experience a remarkable three dimensional ‘fly through’ of how the town centre could look, preserving the historic parts of Guildford, yet also enabling the creation of new squares, open spaces, shops and restaurants.

PLEASE DO LET US HAVE YOUR FEEDBACK USING THE FORM ON THE CONTACT US PAGE, and let us know if you would like this plan to be progressed with Guildford Borough Council.

Many thanks to Guildford-based Media On Demand for their fantastic work in managing the streaming with the getsurrey news website.

Video of Guildford Vision Group launch of its plans for Guildford, Surrey, 1 February 2017

Video of Guildford Vision Group launch of its plans for Guildford, Surrey, 1 February 2017 1920 1440 admin

Hundreds of people attended, and thousands watched the livestreaming of the launch of Guildford Vision Group’s plans for pedestrianising the town centre and opening up the riverside to create a better Guildford for residents, workers and visitors.

Here you can watch the event recorded from the live stream.

Guildford-based Media On Demand enabled the livestreaming, working in association with news website getsurrey, and we would like to thank both for their outstanding help and involvement in making it happen.

Guildford Vision Group Master Plan Visual 8

Community invited to unveiling of Guildford Vision Group’s detailed Town Plan on 1st February

Community invited to unveiling of Guildford Vision Group’s detailed Town Plan on 1st February 800 566 admin

Residents, employers and other members of the community are invited to attend the public unveiling of Guildford Vision Group’s (GVG) new town centre Plan on 1st February at The Baptist Millmead Centre, Millmead, Guildford, GU2 4BE from 7.00-8.30pm.

GVG has been working with David Leonard of Leonard Design Architects, a nationally-respected architectural and design practice, to develop in more detail the themes and vision of a masterplan for Guildford.

An initial masterplan was commissioned and approved by Guildford Borough Council early last year but has yet to be adopted as part of formal planning policy.

Share ideas
GVG will share its ideas for development with the public at the open meeting and David Leonard will describe the features and benefits of the GVG Plan.

The meeting will discuss how the Plan can shape the town centre for the better.

The new masterplan includes greater – and safer – space for pedestrians in the town centre and the redevelopment of the riverside. It offers leisure, retail and employment opportunities fit for today’s world in an environment that complements Guildford’s heritage.

New housing
It also delivers much-needed new housing in the centre of the town.

A new crossing over the railway that takes traffic around, rather than through, the town centre is integral to the new masterplan, making Guildford safer for pedestrians and less polluted.

A study by local consultancy Motion, endorses this concept and shows this to be the best solution for re-arranging central traffic routes.

The new crossing enables better access to town and station and greater reliability. It helps deliver an integrated transport network designed to encourage people to use their cars less.

A beautiful town centre
John Rigg, Chairman of the Guildford Vision Group, said: “The Guildford Vision Group wants to see a beautiful town centre and regenerated riverside created with people in mind. Right now we have no town square, few fully pedestrianised streets, and limited space for people to sit and enjoy the river. Roads are clogged with traffic and it is difficult for businesses to flourish.

“Our new Town Plan addresses all these aspects and more, and we encourage residents, businesses and the wider community to come along and hear more about our vision.

“There are now new development and project teams in place at the Council, and we look forward to active discussions with them about how the goals of the plan can be achieved successfully. Guildford has to get it right to survive.”

The Guildford Vision Group was formed in 2012 to campaign for a holistic approach to the development of Guildford, one based on people and placemaking rather than piecemeal expansion. While Guildford Borough Council created a Masterplan for the town in 2015, it has yet to commit to delivering it. GVG continues to work to ensure the best elements of GBC’s Masterplan are put into action but its own Plan – to be unveiled at the public meeting – recommends key changes.

The Baptist Millmead Centre is located in Millmead, Guildford, GU2 4BE. For further information email GVG Campaign Manager, Yvonka Wilkinson on



Issued by: Property House Marketing – 01483 561119

Notes for Editors

Guildford Vision Group (GVG) formed in 2012 as a response to Guildford Borough Council’s initial draft Town Centre Framework, to argue the urgent need of a long-term vision for the development of Guildford, one in which the sustainable vitality of the town and its enterprise is ensured. GVG is independent, and has no affiliations or vested interests. Further information is available at



Guildford Vision Group’s New East/West Crossing Would Enable Better Bus Policy Delivery

Guildford Vision Group’s New East/West Crossing Would Enable Better Bus Policy Delivery 1148 713 admin


Guildford Vision Group (GVG) says its proposal for a new East/West crossing from York Road to Guildford Park Road would offer possibly the best option for bus travellers in the centre of town by freeing up Onslow Street for comprehensive bus halt facilities.

GVG generally supports the bus halts policy proposals on the agenda for the Guildford Borough Council
(GBC) Executive meeting on Tuesday 3 January 2017.

However, GVG reiterates that the East/West crossing enables Onslow Street to provide replacement
interchanges in close proximity to the existing bus station. The bus station is due to close to allow the
huge North Street scheme to get underway.

John Rigg, Chairman of GVG, adds: “We support on-street bus halts, and all moves to provide a
comprehensive bus service, both to and across our town. With all the major developments looming,
such as Dunsfold, Gosden Hill Farm, Wisley and elsewhere, buses must provide a real and attractive
alternative to car usage.
“The new crossing proposed by GVG, as well as giving the centre of Guildford back to people, frees up
Onslow Street for bus halts right by the Friary, along with a more attractive, ‘active’ frontage.
Covered facilities would be possible.
“Furthermore the crossing enables the railway station, on both sides of the track, to provide a proper,
coordinated transport interchange. This is vital if our infrastructure is to catch up, let alone cope, with
the inevitable population growth in and around Guildford.”

The GBC bus options, if approved, will go out for public consultation during January.

Separately, GVG remains concerned to see that the Council is getting quality and value for money from
its transport consultants.

In the long-winded document supporting the agenda item there are some
puzzling options investigated for a new bus station. These include demolition of Debenhams for a
riverside garage and a bus station on Bright Hill!

GVG thus urges councillors to give a ‘reality check’ on value for money and the quality of reports.

Public meeting February 1 – our vision for Guildford’s town centre

Public meeting February 1 – our vision for Guildford’s town centre 560 330 admin

YOU are invited to our next public meeting where we will reveal our exciting new plans for Guildford’s town centre.

It’s on Wednesday 1 February 2017 at The Millmead Centre (next to the Baptist Church), 24 Bury Fields, Millmead, Guildford GU2 4AZ at 7.00pmPLEASE DO ATTEND and bring friends, family, work colleagues and anyone you know who is interested and cares about how our town is developed!

Our plans take the original A&M Masterplan on to deliver a town centre and beautiful riverside pedestrianised for people – working, shopping, eating, relaxing – and fit for the 21st century.

Come and share our excitement and see for yourself where great ideas can take our lovely town.

PUT THE DATE IN YOUR DIARY NOW and find out more in our December 2016 newsletter here>

New leaflet from Guildford Vision Group

New leaflet from Guildford Vision Group 800 566 admin

We have published a new leaflet setting out our aims and objectives.

Please download it here to find out more!

Guildford Vision Group Newsletter logo

Update on Guildford Vision Group

Update on Guildford Vision Group 210 72 admin

How it all started
It’s just over four years since a group of residents formed Guildford Vision Group (GVG) with the Guildford Society’s help. The founders of GVG were concerned that our town seemed rudderless and losing its appeal as a place in which to do business, work, visit and live.

Over the past 30 years or more there had been little or no substantial town centre development or infrastructure investment of any note. The infrastructure, especially the gyratory, was very poor while demands on it were steadily increasing.

Our town centre is at risk
Cars and concrete hold sway rather than people. Buildings have turned their backs to the river. Where there is riverside space it has been given over to surface carparks. Pedestrians have a raw deal and cyclists have fared little better. The town centre remains dangerous for pedestrians, as recent fatal accidents have sadly confirmed. Air pollution in parts of the town centre is among the worst in the country.

The Council does not appear to have any coordinated plan to tackle this situation and its challenges. The town remains vulnerable to opportunistic, uncoordinated development that might frustrate broader ambitions to re-energise our town and to fashion a sustainable future for it.

Masterplan needed
GVG lobbied for a comprehensive town centre Masterplan by consultants with the relevant skills and track record. Allies & Morrison were hired and in March of this year the Council formally approved their Masterplan but, crucially, did not adopt it. It’s easy to understand why. Allies & Morrison worked to a Council brief. That brief, for example, did not include a comprehensive assessment of infrastructure needs. For example, there’s recognition that the station might be usefully redeveloped to be more of an integrated transport hub (and the site of much needed housing, sympathetic to its setting) but no outline plan to achieve it.

Tackling the gyratory
When it comes to the gyratory, the bane of our town, Allies & Morrison’s two proposed options for re-organising it require respectively a 57% or 44% reduction in traffic through ‘modal shift’, ie to get us out of our cars. This would be achieved by more park & ride sites, better bus services and even, for example, shutting the Farnham Road Bridge, currently the only East/West link in the centre, to all but buses during the two rush hours each day. How about that!

We support modal shift in principal but we have to be realistic about its feasibility in a hilly gap town with little room to manoeuvre in terms of new routes.

GVG’s six key goals
From the outset GVG has set itself six keys goals:

  1. Wider pedestrianisation of the town centre
  2. Exciting new public space and a reinvigorated riverside
  3. Redirection of traffic away from the town centre
  4. An integrated road and rail hub
  5. More town centre housing
  6. A new bridge for a better East-West link

These should be reflected in the adopted Masterplan for the town centre and, ideally, in the new Local Plan.

GVG’s developing thinking
Where have we got to? Well, we’ve got the Masterplan, we’ve certainly created a public discussion about many of the key issues associated with our six objectives, and we’ve developed our thinking on how the various elements of a reinvigorated town centre might fit together. You’ve helped with that by your feedback at our public meetings. We’ve commissioned reports from our own traffic and infrastructure consultants, as well as drawing extensively on our members’ professional expertise and experience. Currently we’ve secured the help of a noted architecture practice to draw up plans to show how the town centre might look, with linking architecture and design detail.

Challenging the Council
Why are we doing all this? It enables us to challenge the Council’s own thinking and actions, where necessary. Much of what happens in Guildford remains uncoordinated, and more worryingly, unambitious.

Guildford is currently playing with a jigsaw comprised of pieces from different sets. The finished picture won’t look pretty that way and, clearly, there will be great difficulty in making all the pieces fit together neatly.

All this should be out in the open but again, worryingly, the debate too often happens behind closed doors under the pretext of commercial confidence. Here Guildford makes something of a rod for its own back by being a dominant landowner in the centre as well as being the planning authority. Look at what’s happening with the North St development. Have you been consulted on what you might like to see there and how it might fit with other development? We fear we’ll be faced with a ‘take it or leave it’ choice, with tinkering only possible at the edges.

That’s no way to approach major development these days. It has to be more collaborative if localism is to have any real meaning.

Push for a new East/West crossing
Our big push at this time is to get support for a proper and comprehensive appraisal of a new East/West crossing linking York Road with Guildford Park Road. We are not trying to improve the lot for cars in the centre. We are simply trying to create the space for wider pedestrianisation of the town centre.

The key to success for the centre is to make the environment attractive for people. New and better public spaces. A better and more welcoming riverside experience alongside an improved retail offer that recognises the change in buying and browsing brought about by the advent of the digital age. This is what will encourage visitors and residents alike to dwell longer. It’s the key to a successful centre.

How a new crossing will help
So how does our new crossing across the river and railway help bring that about? It will move traffic away from the centre. It will enable separation of cars from people. It will make Bridge Street and Onslow St safer and traffic-free, except for buses, taxis and mobility access. It will enable the lower ends of both North St and the High St to be linked together by great public space and amenities along the riverside (think Richmond).

The full economic benefits of the crossing need to be set down and modelled, as well as the bog standard traffic count and modelling. Interestingly, our crossing also only requires a 26% reduction in traffic when assessed using the criteria used for the Council’s two scenarios. Again, the crossing is not just about cars and their routes, it’s about people and their right to safe, pollution-free enjoyment of the centre. It’s about creating the opportunity for imaginative and economically useful new development that will set Guilford down the path of a sustainable future.

Keeping in touch
How can you keep in touch with what we’re up to? Members of GSoc receive our newsletters and press releases as a matter of course. We’ve now launched our revamped website here at:

Our next public meeting
Please look out for our next public meeting. It’s likely to be in late January or early February 2017. It bodes well to be one of our more interesting events, with more detailed plans of how the town centre might look. We will be looking for your feedback so as to refine the plans. There may even be a model of how our crossing would work, providing we can find the funds from somewhere to get it produced (they’re much cheaper now, thanks to 3D printing, but still a fair dollop of cash).

Do contact us
We always like to hear from you, especially if you have relevant skills that could help us. And if you do want to set your thoughts down in an email, please send them to:

GVG Update


GVG Update – February 2016

GVG Update – February 2016 654 400 admin