The Guildford Society

Your Civic Society

Respecting the Past and engaging in the Future of Guildford and Environs 

www.guildfordsociety.org.uk

Guildford Station Development

The redevelopment of Guildford Station (East Side) is due to start at the end of the month.  Solum the developers are holding an information event at the station to answer questions on the Building Works on the 22/10/2019.  Development is spread over 5 years and will be undertaken in several phases

The Society has long objected to this development, which although it provides circa 400 plus flats is of a scale and design that will harm the Town.   The development does nothing to improve the operations of the existing station and fails to provide any meaningful improvements to infrastructure to allow access to the station.

The Society is not against a development at the station.  We recognise the Guildford Station site provides a unique opportunity for development in the South East.  The total area of the station and surrounding sites (East and West Sides) is circa 6.2Ha.  This is a site with good road access, to the A3, M25 etc.  Situated just 500metres from the Town Centre.  Situated on five Rail routes (two of which provide access to Gatwick, and in time Heathrow).  It must be one of the best opportunities for creative development in the country.

Sadly, the opportunity presented by the railway station site to create a new Transport Interchange and Vibrant Quarter for the town is being lost to short term commercial considerations.

The Solum scheme with its design life of 100 years will be a blocker on adapting the Town to meet the challenges posed by Environmental changes including potential modal shift in our transport.  The Solum development blocks expansion of the rail network to the east in the form of extra platforms

The planning system has failed Guildford.  The recently adopted Supplementary Planning Document on Views in the town centre might have prevented Solum, as it has policies proposing large buildings should be broken up with additional sight lines and shows in one of its illustrations how the Solum development impinges on views of the town.   The Council fought the Solum appeal on the matter of views across the town (there were other grounds it didn’t use), why the SPD wasn’t produced at least in Draft form in time for the appeal is a mystery.

Guildford Town Centre

Your Chairman has had a short initial stakeholder interview with People & Places the organisation appointed by the Council to gather views on the Town Centre to support the work to create a Town Centre Master Plan and to refresh the Town Centre Regeneration Strategy.  We look forward to being fully involved once the full consultation gets underway.

Debenhams

The future of the Debenhams site is not clear once the store closes.  The ownership is like that of North Street but without a Council Stake.  The site is challenging in that it is in the Flood Area which will require an innovative approach if the site is to be used for housing.  The Society hopes that the Debenhams site will be considered alongside other areas in the town as part of the Town Centre Master Plan.  The Debenhams site could be developed to provide a great area for community use by the riverside, as well as commercial space and dwellings (although access to dwellings at time of flood needs careful consideration).  

A final consideration for redeveloping the site is environmental.  Maybe, rather than a classic redevelopment, we should be urging that the building is repurposed to avoid the emissions inherent in building work from concrete production etc.

Council Changes

There has been a realignment of portfolios on the Council Executive.  Full information can be seen on the council website at this link

UPD 17-10-2019  

 

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