Guildford Society responds to the first St Marys Wharf consultation

31 March 2021

Proposed redevelopment of the site occupied by Debenhams

The Society has now responded to the first Public Consultation by Native Land on the proposal to redevelop the Debenhams site.

We have sent Native Land, the developers, detailed answers related to the questions posed on the consultation website.  You can see the response at the document at the foot of this post.

A Critical Site

This is a vital site for the town and must be got right for future generations. It is a complex development being subject to flooding, near key heritage assets (Guildford Castle -Scheduled Monument, St Marys Church Grade-1, and St Nicholas Church Grade-11*) and currently poorly linked to the rest of the town centre.

Mass and Height

The Society welcomes the concept of more open space and having greater public accessibility.

We are extremely concerned that Mass and the Height of any new development is appropriate.  Native Land need to show the options on height, numbers of buildings etc.

We are aware that there is a complex trade-off between many factors including:

  • Area of Site Developed
  • Height
  • Mass
  • Flood Access Costs (More buildings will require more mitigation measures)
  • Foundation Changes (We note Native Land would like to keep the existing Ground Floor Slab and Basement)
  • Affordable Homes.

The proposals shown to date do not appear to have explored all the potential options.

The Council have now installed Vu.City which allows new developments to be placed into a computer model of the Town Centre.  We hope Native Land can collaborate with Guildford Council so that Guildford Residents can fully understand the various options particularly how proposals will appear from:

  • Street level at key viewpoints in the town centre
  • Viewed from key viewpoints around the town.
  • Shading caused by the Building
  • Architectural design in relation to existing buildings
  • Flooding Impact

Role of the New development

There needs to be a properly developed spatial strategy for the Town Centre. The Town Centre Masterplan is key to this.
How the St Marys Wharf is positioned vs. the North Street Redevelopment Site which are both planned to have an element of Retail and Public Space is vital.

Using St Marys Wharf to anchor a new quarter and area for Guildford could be more appropriate than straight retail, one to discuss with the council.

 

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