The Society continued to object to the proposed North Street plans due to a multiplicity of reasons chief of which was the overbearing Mass and Scale of the development and its impact on the character of Guildford. You can find the final letter to the planning committee below.
The Planning Committee on 11-1-2023 voted to reject the application to redevelop North Street with the Chair having the casting vote. The members of the committee voted 7 vs. 7 (along Party Lines) at which point the Chair Fiona White was called upon make the final decision.
The reasons that caused the rejection were broadly.
It also became apparent at the Planning Committee that a trade-off had been made on how planning gain was being allocated with Bus Station, Public Space, Surgery etc. being provided maybe at the detriment to providing affordable. GBC within the planning policies are able to make this decision.
What happens next?
As the application has been refused, the Hold directive which allows the minister to call-in the application ceases to apply. St Edwards can appeal against the council’s decision. The decision whether to appeal will no doubt be complicated by the current economic climate, and a proposed Building Regulation change that will require all multi-storey flats over probably 30 metres high to have two staircases (a post Grenfell change), this could impact the highest block (E) proposed for North Street.
The Society’s View
The Society supports appropriate, well designed, and sustainable redevelopment, including housing, especially on this site which has been vacant too long.
The St Edwards Scheme does have good features e.g. the basic plan, public areas etc and we believe in a modified form could serve the town well. However there is a risk that St Edwards will withdraw and the issue will be how to achieve an acceptable development with another developer.
Help us make Guildford better
We want our town to be vibrant, attractive and liveable. We support development that brings a sense of place and enhances the best aspects of our town. If such aims can be embraced, we believe Guildford has the chance to lead the way in enabling sensitive and sustainable development.
Pressures for development are increasing. Planning rules are being eased. The Society’s commitment to standing up for Guildford is needed more than ever.
Getting involved allows the society to continue its work. We welcome new members, from every age and background. Membership provides an opportunity for you to contribute to the continued health of the town and surrounding area, and to meet other people who care about Guildford.