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Design & Heritage Group Annual Report, May 2016

30th August 2016

Design & Heritage Group Annual Report, May 2016

The Design and Heritage Group has, from its initiation back in the 1970s, concentrated on the appearance and attractiveness of our historic town. That concern has drawn able, active and committed members to give their time and talents.

Doug Scott Chairman the Group from December 2014, has been supported by Auriol Earle, Joan Butler, Gillian Cameron, Merilyn Spier, Pat Grayburn, Michael Jeffery, Liz Markwell and others. However due to other pressures Doug had to hand over, and the Society's Executive in October confirmed Michael Jeffery as interim Chairman.

We are indebted to Doug in a big way for his energy and input on two particular counts - both significant for the town's future. After years of persistently highlighting the deterioration of the High Street's granite sets, vandalism by service providers and general neglect, drawing attention to what could and should be done, the County and Borough Councils have at last taken action and come up with the funds. We can all now see the thoroughness of the work now in hand by people who know what they're doing. Not only will it appear as it should, but the those responsible for the time-expired buried services so often in need of excavation and repair have inspected and renewed to prevent any recurrence.

Doug also contributed in a major way, along with members of the other groups, to two presentations which made clear the disastrous impact on the town of the railway station development proposed by Solum - their Great Wall of Guildford. Public reactions reinforced the Council's resolve to refuse the application, especially as there are no significant changes from earlier proposals. The final outcome is still uncertain and remains a gigantic threat to the whole character of the town.

Other activity, less in the public eye perhaps, has concerned the Museum, Dapdune farmhouse and cottage, Hitherbury House, design and heritage aspects of the draft Local Plan, Locally Listed Buildings, Heritage Open Days and the Annual Architecture Lecture.

On the Museum proposals, the Group's position is to encourage use of the present site with alterations to link it with the castle and improvements to its access and display spaces. Progress will depend on available funding. At Hitherbury House, a Norman Shaw building "disgracefully remodelled in 1965-6, hardly a detail

surviving unmauled (a footnote - Pevsner, Buildings of Surrey) another somewhat philistine developer has now been replaced by one planning to restore its original features in a remodelling to create new homes. And Dapdune Farmhouse Cottages are now protected by listing but, still vulnerable to flooding and neglect, is in need of monitoring.

The Society was largely responsible for initiating Guildford's participation in the annual Heritage Open Days. It is now among the towns with the highest number of buildings on offer, and of visitors, and last September was no exception. We are trying to get GBC to allow visits again to the Foxenden Quarry air-raid shelter complex. Thanks are due to all those members who served as "hosts". Volunteers for September 9th-11th this year, please contact Gillian Cameron.

Liz Markwell led the group organising the Society's prestige event - the joint town- and-gown Guildford Society/University of Surrey Annual Architecture Lecture, thiis year with RIBA Surrey participation. On "Healthy people, places and planet" by John Thompson and Partners, consultants much involved in enabling real community participation on urban planning arrangements, it proved highly relevant to Guildford's current involvement in agreeing its Local Plan. It is reviewed in the Society's "Magazine 2015". It and stressed the need for architects to look beyond the form of their own buildings to the feel of the spaces between and around. Liz and her team are putting together the components for this year's, the tenth, Annual Architecture Lecture.

On the Group's membership, we are delighted to welcome two new participants. Rosemary Napp has already taken on the Dapdune monitoring role, and Rosamond Unwin is concerned to ensure the Borough continues to maintain its farmland areas. Robin Stannard, a long-standing member, is called on for guidance on heritage and especially Arts & Crafts matters. His contribution on Hitherbury House was central to the Society's response to proposals.

Joan Butler has decided the time has come to retire and is owed the Group's deep thanks for her patience, persistence in ensuring intentions are followed through, and quiet wisdom.

Michael Jeffery April 2016