2nd February 2021 is the start of the appeal hearing for the Casino Site, on Bridge Street/Onslow Street, in the centre of Guildford.
The Casino Site owners as part of their appeal against rejection of a scheme to develop a 10 storey building have, quite legitimately, in the absence of clear policy, used other sites as a reference, including Solum as illustrated (Taken from the Town Centre Views SPD).
The Casino Devlopers make the the following arguments related to height
The character of this part of Guildford is fundamentally changing, which is demonstrated by:
No protection on height
This demonstrates the lack of protection in Guildford to the development of tall buildings. The Casino site is a total redevelopment, an additional issue is the addition of floors to existing buildings that is allowed under the changes to permitted development rights. It is worth noting other sites are due to come forward for development e.g. Debenhams, Lionwalk, etc.
The Local Plan 2019 is silent on Building heights and the Development Management Policies which have yet to be adopted are similarly silent. The sole protection in the Town Centre appears to be the Town Centre Views SPD that from a selection of views across the town proposes policies to protect the views. This SPD doesn’t address issues such as height causing issues within the town e.g. Shadowing, Wind effects, and is dependent on a few viewpoints.
Other towns have explicit policies.
Other towns and cities have done it differently producing policies to explicitly manage height. London for example is implementing a height limit of 6 Stories except where councils agree an SPD to allow for higher buildings at a specified location. Oxford has a comprehensive set of policies relating to its historic buildings. Brighton has a simple policy, zoning the city for height, and describing areas for tall buildings. See Document below
The Society believes Guildford needs clear policies on Building Height to protect the Town Centre and also make development simpler by setting clear parameters.
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.