At the start of a new decade, and at a time when the climate crisis is centre stage, the Guildford Vision Group (GVG) believes the council should be looking at much bolder initiatives to deal with traffic in the town centre.
Police accident reports again throw up the dangers of the gyratory and its lethal mix of cars and people. An analysis, referenced in an online SurreyLive article of 21 February, shows how dangerous it is for pedestrians, with the crossing at Farnham Road bridge near the junction with Bridge St recording 3 fatalities between 2013 and 2017.
Other surveys show how unhealthily polluted the gyratory is and how much its congestion costs us all, both residents and businesses, through delays.
Guildford Vision Group (GVG) has been making these points for over seven years. When is the council going to act? Money is being spent on tinkering at the edges, not tackling core issues.
Coming down the roads into the town centre over the next fifteen years is the additional traffic created by 10,000+ new homes set to be built on the fringes of town.
“The town centre needs some serious infrastructure study and spend,” says John Rigg, chairman of GVG. “The council‘s soon to be adopted Local Plan has nothing substantial to offer as a solution to the challenge of the gyratory. The opposition, in the shape of the LibDems, has adopted a nimby approach to any talk of bold initiatives.”
Specifically, both have rejected GVG’s oft-repeated call for a new link across the river and railway to take traffic away from the core and the main pedestrian flows. It would better connect east and west Guildford that, since the 1850s, has endured just the one crossing, the ageing and weakened Farnham Road Bridge. GVG’s link should be seen in the context of its masterplan for the centre.
The local elections are in May. Residents should challenge all candidates on this key issue for the borough if we want Guildford, the regional hub and engine of the local economy, to remain safe, healthy, attractive and accessible.
Guildford Vision Group has launched its ‘I love Guildford because…’ campaign, a survey and competition to find out exactly what Guildford’s residents, workers and visitors think of the town centre. We need you to share your views on what you love best about the town; we’ll announce the results at our next public meeting on Tuesday 16th October.
Answers are welcome in a variety of ways, whether you wish to provide a written list of all your favourite things, you just have a preferred shop on the high street and you want to let us know, or you want to share your pictures and videos. Simply start your response with ‘I love Guildford because…’ and get in touch.
You can take part by leaving your comments here on our website, or by emailing us directly. You can also find us on Facebook (@guildfordvisiongroup), Twitter (@guildfordvision) and Instagram (@iloveguildford) if you’d like to share your videos and photos. Please submit your responses by Monday 1st October.
In addition, we’ll be handing out prizes; a £100 gift voucher for Cosy Club will be awarded to two winners, one recognising the most unusual reason to love Guildford town centre, and the other rewarding GVG’s favourite photograph of the town centre.
John Rigg, chairman of GVG, said: “We know that Guildford is a brilliant place for all sorts of reasons, however we want to know exactly what people love best about living and working here. Your views will allow GVG to create the first, definitive list of Guildford’s best bits, according to the people who are here every day.”
Competition Terms & Conditions
- The promoter is: Guildford Vision Group
- The prizes are: A £100 gift voucher for Cosy Club awarded to two winners
- The competition is open to the public of the United Kingdom aged 18 years or over
- There is no entry fee and no purchase necessary to enter this competition
- By entering this competition, an entrant is indicating his/her agreement to be bound by these terms and conditions
- Only one entry will be accepted per person. Multiple entries from the same person will be disqualified
- Closing date for entry will be 1st October 2018. After this date no further entries to the competition will be permitted
- The rules of the competition and how to enter are as follows: provide written content, pictures or videos illustrating your favourite elements of Guildford town centre, starting the response with ‘I love Guildford because….’ Submissions will be accepted via email, comments on the website Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.
- Any changes to the competition will be notified to entrants as soon as possible by the promoter
- The promoter is not responsible for inaccurate prize details supplied to any entrant by any third party connected with this competition
- The prize is as stated and no cash or other alternatives will be offered. The prizes are not transferable
- Winners will be selected at random by assessing all entries.
- The winners will be announced on 16th October at GVG’s next public meeting and also personally notified by direct message on social media platforms, email or on the website dependent upon method of entry. If the winner cannot be contacted or does not claim the prize within 14 days of notification, we reserve the right to withdraw the prize from the winner and pick a replacement winner. The promoter will notify the winner when and where the prize will be available to pick up
- GVG accepts no responsibility for the warranty of the prize
- This promotion is in no way sponsored, endorsed or administered by, or associated with, Facebook, Twitter or any other social network
Local Plan hearings: GVG congratulates Guildford Borough Council and welcomes new town centre policy
Guildford Vision Group (GVG) congratulates the Council at the end of the Local Plan public hearings yesterday where the Inspector indicated he would find the Plan sound.
GVG has taken considerable comfort in that the Inspector, in requesting a main modification of the Plan, has called on the Council to include a new policy for the Town Centre, where many of the improvements sought by GVG can be incorporated.
GVG, at the request of the Inspector, has already submitted comments and suggested amendments on the first draft by the Council of the Town Centre Policy S3, produced during the course of the hearings.
“We are really pleased with the Inspector’s call for a new Town Centre policy,” said John Rigg, chairman of GVG. “He has clearly recognised the importance of the Centre. He made particular comment on the poor environment for pedestrians and also the need for better design management of development outside the historic core. We look forward to constructive dialogue with the Plan team in the formulation of Policy S3”
GVG has spent the last six years calling for a comprehensive masterplan for the town centre, including new and improved infrastructure. It has produced its own masterplan, launched to much public acclaim and support in February last year.
The Council are now revising the Local Plan in line with the Inspector’s detailed observations. The amendments, including the new Policy S3, will be the subject of public consultation on the Autumn if all goes to plan.
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.
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 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.
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.
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 http://bit.ly/2GVG_Video
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.
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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
Issued by: Property House Marketing – 01483 561119 email@example.com
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 www.guildfordvisiongroup.com
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.
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
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
Press Release 121002 ‘Let’s tackle the traffic’ is the main message from Guildford Vision Group’s latest street survey
6 September 2012
“Council Will Be Acting Unlawfully If It Adopts Town Centre Plans”
An Opinion from a Leading QC has cast significant doubt on the lawfulness of two key town centre plans.
This afternoon, lawyers for Guildford Vision Group (“GVG”) presented the Council with an unequivocal Opinion which warns that the Council could be at significant risk of legal challenge if it adopts the Interim Town Centre Framework or the North Street Design and Development Brief. GVG has also obtained a second Opinion from another QC which supports this conclusion.
GVG has repeatedly sought to engage the Council in collaborative discussions but was left with no other option when it became clear that the Council intended to adopt both documents at its Executive meeting this evening.
GVG believes that the existing Town Centre requires significant and comprehensive masterplanning in order to realise the Town Centre’s potential and sort out its traffic problems. Initial plans by Allies & Morrison, to be available on the GVG website, propose the removal of traffic from the much-maligned gyratory system, the re-routing of traffic around the Town Centre and a new bridge across the railway.
John Rigg, a Director of GVG, said “We believe that the Town Centre has enormous potential and we urge the Council to work with GVG and others for the benefit of all Guildford residents”.
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Notes to the Editor:
- Guildford Vision Group (GVG) was formed to persuade Guildford Borough Council to undertake a proper, visionary Masterplan for the town with the assistance of expert masterplanners and traffic engineers.
- GVG comprises concerned residents, including many property professionals, all of whom are seeking to work with the Council to undertake a radical review of the Town Centre Plan and address the traffic issues.
Thanks to the 160+ supporters, Anne Milton MP and 9 Councillors from GBC, who attended the GVG Public Meeting last Tuesday, 28th August. For those who were not able to come, please click on this link to the slides which set out our reaction to two very important documents which will decide the future development of Guildford Town Centre:
These two documents are scheduled to be adopted by Guildford Borough Council at the Executive Meeting on 6th September, following a very brief consultation period. GVG has prepared a Briefing Document which will be issued to all Councillors prior to 6th September, and will urge the Council to withdraw these two documents and to delay the consideration of the Waitrose application until major traffic studies have been carried out. GVG will also urge the Council to engage master planners to produce a long term visionary master plan for the town.
We have also written to the Lead Councillor, Tony Rooth, urging him directly to adopt this course of action.
Further, for your information and guidance, we have conducted a comparison of the Town Centre Master Plan and its successor, the new Town Centre Interim Framework Document. This comparison highlights critical changes, including dropping safeguarded areas that hitherto preserved options for new road and bridge links to remedy the crucial underlying problem of traffic congestion.
What can you do next?
- Come along to the Executive Meeting on 6th September, 7.00pm at Guildford Borough Council Offices.
- Contact your Ward Councillor and express your concerns over the future of our town.
- Write to the Case Officer, Joanna Bell, with your views on the Waitrose application – it’s not too late.
And in the meanwhile, please follow the news articles in the local media e.g. The Guildford Dragon News and The Surrey Advertiser.
THIS IS A CRITICAL TIME FOR GUILDFORD AND THE TIME TO ACT IS NOW.
Guildford Vision calls on Guildford Council to withdraw flawed North Street Development Brief
Guildford, Monday 13 August 2012: Guildford Vision Group (GVG), the group of concerned Guildford residents calling for a more visionary Master Plan for the town, has submitted a damning critique of the draft North Street Design and Development Brief. Guildford Borough Council’s Brief, on which consultation ended last Friday, seeks to extend the primary shopping area of the town up and behind North Street, the latter currently designated for secondary and tertiary shopping.
GVG also claims that the Brief warranted far more publicity, and a great deal more consultation and engagement than was undertaken.
The North Street Brief follows the Council’s controversial switch last year of the Bellerby site to retail development, which was made by a supplementary planning document (SPD). The Council had previously obtained planning permission in 2007 to build 75 affordable homes on the Bellerby site in accordance with an earlier SPD it revoked last year.
A spokesman for GVG said: ‘There is a widespread perception that the publication of supplementary planning documents is being used to deliver disguised outcomes favoured by the Council as landowner, to the disadvantage of other landowners and the wider community. Directing the foodstore requirement, for example, to an edge-of-centre site owned by the Council, and allocated for housing in the Local Plan, has reinforced that view.’
GVG calls on Guildford Borough Council to withdraw the North Street Brief because of its significant flaws:
- Consultation on the Brief closed just a few weeks before the Council is due to publish key,
influential draft and final planning documents affecting the town centre including:
- Final Interim Town Centre Framework – due for adoption early September 2012
- Draft Strategic Parking Strategy – due September 2012
Draft Local Plan Core Strategy – due Autumn 2012
- It makes no proposals for the location of a new bus station or for housing
- No consideration has been given to the substantial and prolonged impact on existing traders of the 65% increase in retail floorspace
- No allowance has been factored in for changes in shopping habits. Increased internet shopping and the prolonged poor economic situation will have an impact on existing retail space
GVG believes traffic management is a key first step in any Master Plan for Guildford. The North Street Brief has been drawn up without the benefit of any up to date traffic impact studies. It must be self-evident that an additional 60,000 sq m of retail space and the proposed Waitrose foodstore, on top of the existing 89,000 sq m, must have serious implications for the traffic and transport infrastructure.
Notes for Editors
Guildford Vision seeks to work collaboratively with councillors, council officers and all stakeholders to ensure Guildford sustains and improves its appeal as one of the most attractive locations in the South East in which to live, work and spend leisure time.
A graphic, below, showing the impact of the proposed additional retail space is attached:
For more information, see www.guildfordvisiongroup.com or contact Yvonka Wilkinson, Campaign Manager, Vision for Guildford Ltd on 07767 251040