Where is the Centre of the Town?

17 March 2021

The Town Centre Master Plan has interesting decisions?

The refocussing of retail in Guildford is making change in the Town Centre Inevitable.  Several large Shops are closing or radically downsizing including House of Fraser (there appear to be plans to turn part of the shop into a hotel), and Debenhams (Likely to become residential).  Redevelopment is now being actively discussed for North Street, where Guildford Borough Council have changed their ambitions for the site, recognising that 40,000sq/m of retail is unviable. The Debenhams site is likely to be redeveloped as residential with Retail/Commercial on the ground floor.

House of Fraser and Debenhams together will remove circa 70,000Sq/M combined added to at least a notional 30,000Sq/m lost from the North Street development.  In addition, we have several closures of significant sized shops e.g., Top Shop and Laura Ashley. 

There are options with these changes to reconsider where the future of Guildford lies. Traditionally the centre has been along an east/west axis of the lower High Street with an extension at the Friary Centre.

In the future are there opportunities to for example 

  • Open a North South Axis from revitalised Commercial and Retail on the Debenhams site through into North Street site.  
  • Create a revised North Street building on it’s width to create a complementary area to the High Street. 

The Town Centre Master Plan may also bring forward ideas for Bedford Wharf and Bridge Street.

It will be an evolving town centre. 

The Society believes there needs to be:

  • A spatial strategy to guide positioning of Retail vs. Commercial vs. Housing. 
  • A strategy to postition Public facilties e.g. Health facilities, Galleries and Museums etc.
  • Clear building standards to ensure new buildings, particularly on the ground floors, are built to allow conversion between use and reconfiguration.   

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