The North Street Development Brief and the Interim Town Centre Framework are both due to be adopted by the GBC Executive on 6 September.
Guildford Vision Group strongly believes that neither of these should be adopted before a full study of the traffic implications is undertaken – and the results fed back into the documents.
A full review of Guildford’s out-dated transportation infrastructure is clearly necessary. Guildford Borough Council now appear to be convinced of this too, but they still don’t want to admit that IT NEEDS TO BE DONE FIRST!
GVG members were delighted to welcome Councillor James Palmer, Lead Councillor for Transportation and for the Town Centre, to our regular Friday meeting on 24 August. In spite of GVG having extended regular and on-going invitations to our meetings, this was the first time that one of the Councillorshad attended.
Cllr Palmer was interested to hear GVG views. He had not been in post for long, but wanted to assure GVG that GBG recognised that the original Draft Master Plan had been inadequate.
According to Cllr Palmer, GBC wants a properous and lively Guildford, preserving the historic character, culture, business etc – not just retail. However, the North Street Development Brief would introduce an additional 60,000 sq m of retail space!
Cllr Palmer wanted to reassure GVG that GBC was trying to bring forward the transportation study, but that planning decisions could not be put on hold while such studies were on-going. They had to be done in parallel. GVG urged that, if this were the case, then GBC needed to ‘PRESERVE OPTIONS’ so that opportunities, such as the possibility of a new river or railway crossing, were not lost for good.
GVG also suggested that at least some of the sites could be designated as not available for development until the infrastructure plan was in place.
GVG members are not against development. We are totally in favour of sustainable development based on a proper Master Plan. Without this, it would be virtually impossible for the town to grow its economy. Right now, corporate organisations won’t move their headquarters here because there is too little affordable housing, and the traffic is so bad.
We hope that the meeting on 24 August was just the start of a meaningful on-going dialogue with the Council. And of greater transparency from GBC.
As soon as we knew when the Interim Town Centre Framework would appear on the GBC website, GVG sent out an open invitation to a meeting on 28 August. This would be an opportunity for all to find out in what ways the ITCF differed from the original document, the Draft Town Centre Master Plan.
We were pleased to welcome over 150 residents, including almost a dozen GBC Councillors and Guildford’s MP to the meeting. GVG members kicked off proceedings by talking those present through the ITCF. The floor was then opened for all to ask questions, make comments etc.
The overall impression from the meeting was that we all love Guildford and want to preserve the things which make it special. On the other hand, we do not want the town to stagnate, or die a slow death, strangled by traffic.
There seemed to be a consensus that a holistic and long term approach was essential. We would be unlikely to achieve a more people friendly environment without looking at a much wider ‘Town Centre’. Only by including the Cathedral, University, Research Park and Hospitals in the Town Centre, can a truly VISIONARY FUTURE be developed for Guildford, integrating new public spaces and green areas and pedestrian and cycle friendly routes with the old and new built environment.
It was good to hear that the Council and Surrey County Council are now looking at traffic issues, but it is still impossible to understand how they can contemplate adopting plans before understanding the traffic implications. It really is putting the cart before the horse.
GVG members are in conversation with a continuously expanding group of stakeholders in the town. Residents, businesses and workers all have an interest in seeing Guildford achieve its potential as a thriving economic hub for the southeast region, without losing its historic charm and attraction as a place to live or visit.
GVG members share this same desire for Guildford’s future. As a group, we come from backgrounds as varied as architecture and chartered surveying to banking and arts management. The one thing which unites us is our wish to see a secure and pleasant future for this lovely town. We have no vested interest beyond that.
We look forward to seeing the development of a professional master plan which will ensure such a future.
GVG continues to work hard on diverse fronts to widen participation and encourage all stakeholder groups to have their say about the future of this great town. To that end, members are preparing letters, flyers etc to spread the word about the positive benefits of a master plan for Guildford Town Centre.
It is encouraging to note that a significant number of individuals have contacted the group already to let us know of their ideas and concepts relating to future infrastructure, traffic and other issues.
Group members are looking forward to the possibility of collaborating with all levels of government in order to secure a vibrant economic future and continually improving environment for Guildford.
GVG Meeting 1st June 2012 – Have your say
Guildford Vision Group members were delighted to hear that a date is about to be set between key members of the group and Guildford Borough. This will give us the chance to put our ideas directly to the Council and persuade them of the vital importance of a long term plan to tackle Guildford’s chronic traffic and other problems, as other towns have already done.
We are working hard to get more people who live and work in Guildford to get interested and engaged. This means contacting stakeholders, getting information out more widely via the website, flyers, letters and so on. We are also committed to sending out regular updates to registered supporters.
Why not sign up, have your say, and get the forward-looking Guildford we all want!
GVG Meeting 25th May – What Guildford wants
This week, Guildford Vision Group discussed the changes Guildford needs in order to improve the current and future quality of life, and to ensure a strong economic future for the people and businesses in the town.
We need a town that works – and the first step towards that must be a long-term solution to the traffic problems.
Until Guildford town centre stops being strangled by traffic, it will be virtually impossible to achieve the other improvements people want – such as safe pedestrian and cycle routes, and pleasant green spaces.
Until everyone starts thinking of Guildford as people-centred rather than traffic-centred, any development proposals are doomed to failure or, at best, a low level of success.
Guildford needs a masterplan which puts people first.
Guildford Vision Group Meeting date: 11 May 2012
Guildford at a crossroads
The position Guildford is in right now presents both a challenge and an opportunity. There are a number of projects either on the table at the moment, or to be considered over the next few years, and two potential approaches to these projects.
One approach is to deal with each on an individual basis and with reference only to the existing infrastructure; the other is to look at all future development possibilities in the light of all the various pressing issues which need to be tackled – and take a holistic view.
The first approach is clearly short-sighted: the first stages of redevelopment undertaken in a piecemeal fashion could easily make future projects impossible to achieve.
The second approach allows for all projects to contribute to the quality of life for residents, workers and visitors and to the economic growth of Guildford as a whole in all sectors of activity – retail, University, leisure and tourism, SMEs and so on. This second approach requires a professional masterplan at its core – and depends on all authorities including Guildford Borough Council, Surrey County Council and the Highways Agency being involved.
Such a masterplan would cover the next 30 to 50 years, divided into 10 year stages. Only through addressing all the relevant issues – parking, access, tourism, a positive outcome for developers making large investments in the town – can sustainability be assured.
To view speeches and slides from the Guildford Vision Group Launch Meeting on 21st March 2012 click here
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At the Guildford Vision Group meeting on 28 April, steering group members reaffirmed their desire to work with residents’ associations, local businesses, the University andSciencePark, along with Guildford Borough Council to create a new vision for Guildford.
A properly researched, professional masterplan is absolutely vital. An effective long term masterplan forGuildfordwould bring all elements together to create an economically vibrant town. These elements would need to include a new traffic masterplan removing the gyratory, the provision of aTown Square, safer routes around town for pedestrians and cyclists, improvements in development of the riverside and so on. Continue Reading…
At a meeting held on 20 April, the Guildford Vision Group steering group members were delighted to welcome local MP Anne Milton and her constituency PA Sarah Coleby.
Anne Milton was extremely supportive of the aims and objectives of GVG. As a local resident, she is only too aware of the issues we all contend with on a daily basis: the time we need to allow to get across town from any direction, the lack of safe pedestrian routes, the short-comings of the public transportation system and so on. Continue Reading…