Design & Heritage

News on design developments and issues and how these relate to preserving Guildford’s heritage. Design and Heritage Group (read more below) provides our focus on the design of new buildings, heritage and associated public spaces. We also post items of interest on design from other organisations, including the government.

Good design helps to build communities, improves quality of life, and creates places where people wish to live, work and play.  Good design should also respect and respond to our heritage buildings.

Considered, sustainable design should be at the heart of all new developments, and refurbishments or conversions, in the borough. It should be ambitious and create the heritage for the future, enabling us to hand Guildford to the next generation in a better state.

Good design is difficult to define.  The Society believes that Guildford should see a mixture of building styles and is critical of simplistic ‘clone’ and ‘pastiche’ design.

The Society believes good design should be encouraged by clear and concise policies.  Lengthy documents exist, such as the Local Plan: Development Management Policies. We believe Guildford needs a more concise Design Guide to provide guidance to citizens and developers. It is noted that many European towns have such a document.

The Society is aware of initiatives from central government that attempt to set design standards, such as the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission Report.  We will monitor these proposals as they develop.

We believe developments should be reviewed by the Design South East Design panel. This should be supplemented by a local design panel, providing local input.

We are committed to the Society playing a pro-active role in planning pre-applications, acting as a truly independent body, and as a conduit of information for outside bodies.

Developers that embrace good design should be publicly rewarded. One way that this can be achieved is by substantially increasing public awareness of design awards, at both local and national levels, including Guildford’s own Design Awards programme.

Developers should be encouraged to view themselves as “patrons of good architecture” and be made aware of the financial benefits accruing from creating effective and iconic buildings.

Heritage issues are the foundation on which the Guildford Society is built. The town’s historic High Street provides the images by which our borough is universally known. It is designated as the town’s primary Conservation Area and contains several listed buildings. Its care and conservation, while maintaining its vitality, have been key aims of the Society since its re-formation in 1935, and of its predecessor, the Old Guildford Society, formed in 1896.

There are many more heritage assets in the surrounding area, from major National Trust houses to smaller buildings. We have a rich history, ranging from early industrial buildings to medieval masterpieces and fine examples of Arts and Crafts buildings; not forgetting the Castle, almost certainly built by William the Conqueror soon after 1066.

Our heritage faces many pressures. These include wear and tear; the impact of weather and pollution on surfaces and buildings; commercial demands; competition from proposed new developments; and competing demands for funding. All present challenges to its survival.

The Society is an active participant in the annual Heritage Open Days, which have promoted access to many buildings opened only occasionally, as well as those more regularly opened.

Heritage is a central element of the visitor experience in Guildford, and needs to be properly funded, repaired and preserved. We are also keenly aware that it is fragile. This means that sometimes visitor numbers may need to be limited and transport access monitored and controlled.

Developers that support the sensitive restoration and repurposing of heritage assets should be publicly rewarded. As part of our Design Awards programme we seek to recognise developments that have shown true awareness of heritage considerations.  We are encouraged that several developers have shown they can work successfully with heritage buildings.

We maintain contact with Historic England and the National Trust on heritage matters.

The Design and Heritage Group collaborates with the Planning Group in commenting, as required, on planning applications. We recognise that there is overlap between the two groups.  Planning Group concentrates on matters such as planning policy and compliance. It calls on the Design Group for expertise on the details of design for buildings and public spaces.

The Design and Heritage Group has a clearly defined remit and has produced a series of position papers on aspects of design.

The chair of the Design and Heritage Group can be contacted on D&

St Mary’s - Historic England Comment on Plans View article In a rare development Historic England has formally objected to the Debenhams redevelopment proposals. Historic England is the government body that looks after England's historic environment, including listing buildings, and reviews planning appl... View article Guildford - Development on the Cathedral Stag Hill View article The Planning application for 124 Dwellings on the Stag Hill site has just been lodged with the council.  The applicants are the Cathedral in partnership with Vivid, a Housing Association. This site has been the subject of considerable de... View article St Mary’s Wharf Development - Objection Submitted View article The Society Today submitted an objection the currently proposed scheme for St Mary’s Wharf. The Society believes that the site is one of the most important sites to be brought forward for development in Guildford over the last few decades.&n... View article Guildford Design Awards Winners 2021 View article On the 1st December 2021 the Mayor of Guildford Marsha Moseley presented the Guildford Design Awards 2021.  This award is run jointly by the Guildford Borough Council and The Guildford Society. The award celebrates good building Design and Publi... View article Guildford St Mary's Wharf Planning Submitted View article Native Land have submitted a planning application 21/P/02232 to Guildford Borough Council concerning their plans for St Mary’s Wharf (Debenhams Site) in the Town Centre.  The application is undergoing a process of validation by G... View article Guildford Architecture Lecture 2021 - Event Videos View article The Society, in conjuction with the University of Surrey held its Annual Architecture Lecture on the 20th October 2021. Providing quality multiple housing has a special importance for Guildford with several large new developments planned in the To... View article Going Green -- Heating our Buildings View article The UK government has published a Heat and Buildings Strategy (See Document Below), outlining plans to replace fossil-fuelled heating like gas boilers with low-carbon technologies such as heat pumps. The paper details the options and complex issue... View article Guildford Society Letter on St Marys View article The Society has written to key members of the Council expressing our concerns at the proposed Debenhams/St Mary's Wharf Development.  We are not against redeveloping the site but the current proposals don't do justice to the site or... View article SPD for Parking View article Guildford Council have produced a draft Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) covering Parking in the Borough.  This document has been reviewed by the council Executive Advisory Board prior to final agreement at a future council meeting.&nb... View article Guildford Design Awards – Update View article The Guildford Design Awards, which is being run jointly by Guildford Borough Council and The Guildford Society, has had a busy few weeks accepting entries, agreeing a short list, and visiting sites.  The Guildford Design Awards judging p... View article Guildford Housing Department - Experiment with Design View article Guildford Borough Council (GBC) have recently revealed plans to redevelop a small site on Clover Road currently occupied by disused garages replacing it with  8 apartments, all being affordable housing.  Planning application 21/P/01646 refe... View article Interesting Vienna Development View article Vienna is developing the Village im Dritten (Village in the Third District) as a new quarter, with a ‘Park for All’ in the middle. The design has a number of interesting features.  Shielding from Noise and Pollut... View article Guildford Society Responds to St Marys Wharf Consultation 3 View article

The Society welcomes moves redevelop the Debenhams site.  However, we consider the scheme, as presented during this 3rd Consultation, is fundamentally flawed. 


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Modular Homes for the Homeless View article Twenty years ago Andy Hill, CEO of Hill Group  was made redundant, a sudden change in circumstances that illustrates how quickly someone’s luck can turn. With the support of his family, he was able to start a business that has grown int... View article Increased focus on the Beauty of New Development. View article The ministry of Housing Communities and Local government (MHCLG) has announced 20th July 2020 the following:    New Office for Place to help councils and communities banish ugly developments and deliver beautiful, green homes and... View article Parliament comments on Planning for the Future View article The 6th August is the anniversary of the publication by the government of its White Paper, Planning for the future. There is still no date as to when a final Whitepaper is to be published as a Bill for consideration by Parliament. Planning for the... View article Sustainability of Buildings View article The Royal institute of British Architects (RIBA) is getting increasingly interested in the challenges of building with a minimal Carbon Footprint over the entire life cycle of a building. Whole Life Carbon Metric Understanding the impact of our... View article Guildford Design Awards 2021 View article The Guildford Society and Guildford Borough Council are jointly organising the 2021 Guildford Design Awards.  Cllr Joss Bigmore, Leader of Guildford Borough Council and Peter Coleman Chairman of the Guildford Society Design and Heri... View article Wisley Airfield Update View article News of the Wisley Development has been quiet lately, but a lot has been going behind the scenes. A Public Consultation Event took place in mid-May.  There is a summary Video of the scheme indicative form on the Wisley Airfield  Website&... View article The Plaza Site - living space for 300 people. View article Tiger Developments Ltd are starting a public consultation exercise for the Plaza Site – the vacant plot of brownfield land located between Bury Street and Portsmouth Road on the fringe of the town centre. The proposals seek to transform the ... View article Guildford Testing the National Model Design Code View article Guildford Borough Council has been selected as one of 14 authorities to evaluate the application of the new National Model Design Code (NMDC).  The NMDC is part of the revsion of the planning system proposed in Planning for the Future. T... View article St Marys Wharf - Second Consultation -The Society Responds View article Native Land, have now who have acquired the Debenhams site, have now issued an interim update on their emerging ideas.  The site has been renamed as St Marys Wharf. The update, which is available for comment until the 21st May, builds on the ... View article North Street Update - No change for the Bus Station. View article St Edward have released a short video giving an update on the status to the plans being developed for the North Street Site.  The major item of news is that St Edward in consultation with GBC and SCC are minded to leave the Bus Station on its ex... View article The Council can enable Quality Design in Guildford View article The Guildford Society together with Guildford Borough Council are keen to see the quality of design improved for new buildings in Guildford.  Our Design Awards which we are about to launch again in 2021, details coming shortly, are a way of enco... View article No 1 Onslow Street (Sanofi House) - proposed height increase by 3 stories. View article The owners of No 1 Onslow Street M&G, who also own the Friary Centre, have applied (21/P/00539) to modify No 1 Onslow Street occupied until recently by Sanofi. The key proposals are to create a three storey extension to the roof, roof terrace ... View article Twentieth Century Society objects to Debenhams being demolished. View article The Twentieth Century Society was founded in 1979 to support interest in C20th architecture and to complement the preservation work of the Victorian Society, which was founded in 1959. The Twentieth Century Society has campaigned successfully to p... View article Guildford Society responds to the first St Marys Wharf consultation View article 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.&n... View article Architecture’s highest honour - for redeveloping existing buildings. View article Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal have been awarded the 2021 Pritzker Architecture Prize which is known internationally as architecture’s highest honour. As well as new developments the French Architects are known for repurposing buildin... View article Feedback on the first round of consultation on North Street proposals View article St Edward the developers for the North Street Site have posted a summarised response to the first consultation on plans held in December 2020.  The Developers are planning on bringing forward amended plans with it is to be hoped more detail in a... View article Civic Trust Awards 2021 View article The Civic Trust has announced its awards for Conservation & for Universal Design The Civic Trust Awards state that that its agile nature that has proven to be its greatest asset and it is with great pride that it can claim to be the only ... View article Eco-homes become hot property in the UK View article The Guardian has an interesting article on the move to Eco Homes. Local authorities across the country have been encouraging these developments supported by Developers and Architects.  The Article highlights schemes in Exeter, Leeds, Cambridg... View article Debenhams Site - St Marys Wharf Consultation View article Native Land have appointed a team to propose a design for the site. The Society has added a page to the website to keep track of progress of the development.  The team have now published a initial ideas for the site, and to kee... View article The Society Comments on Weyside View article As Weyside is such an important site in Guildford, we are publishing our response to the Hybrid Planning application. The Society has reviewed, as best we can, the 240 documents related to the Weyside Planning application.  This scheme has be... View article Guildford Society 2020 Design Awards Winner Interviews View article We have held a small 'virtual' celebration (21-1-2021) for the winners of our 2020 Design Awards.  The virtual celebration was also the occasion that we released the short interviews with the Architect, Developer, or Project Manager... View article Create a Park in the Town Centre View article Stockton on Tees has suffered a declining Town Centre for many years. The Guardian has an interesting article on the ideas emerging to redevelop the Town Centre. The Stockton proposals are a reminder that the Guildford Town Centre Master Plan... View article MHCLG Changes to NPPF and Green Buildings View article The Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government had a very busy last weekend in January.  In response to the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission report, MHCLG is progressing  Changes to the National Plan... View article Design Codes - the future for planning? View article It can be argued that Design Codes trace their origins back to influential treatises such as Palladio’s 'I Quattro Libri dell’Architettura' and the planning and styles promulgated by the Wood’s in Bath. The MHCLG hav... View article The Death of the Office may be overstated? View article Although Commercial activity is undergoing major changes due to the impact of technology and the Covid pandemic Guildford needs to manage change of use and maybe prepare for a future where Office Demand may increase!! Mark Dixon CEO of real estate... View article Poor Quality Development View article A recent Prior Notification for converting offices to dwellings shows the pressure the local area may come under with ill-considered developments. MHCLG Facing in Two Directions The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) ... View article Designing for autonomous vehicles View article A recent article in the Sunday Times (10-1-2021) highlighted a new estate Beaulieu in Chelmsford that is considering how estates are designed without being dominated by the needs of cars and car parking.  The Chelmsford City Council Spat... View article Design Award Plaques in Guildford View article This year we have awarded the design award winners a metal plaque that can be displayed on the buildings concerned.  The Plaque uses the new Guildford Society logo that we have adopted this autumn. Over the past couple of weeks we have been pres... View article Debenhams site sold for redevelopment View article The Times is reporting 9-12-2020 that M&G Real Estate have concluded a sale of the Debenhams site to Native Land.   The Guildford Society welcomes a developer, Native Land, with energy and ideas taking on the Debenhams Site.  Na... View article Home of 2030 Design Competition View article The Ministry of Housing and Local Government has annouced (4-12-2020) the winners of the Home of 2030 Design Competition - see annoucement. Launched in March 2020, and managed by the RIBA, the competition encouraged the design of environmentally f... View article Debenhams is Closing View article The Debenhams site is an opportunity for the Town -- we should not lose it. Today 1-12-2020 the demise of Debenhams was annouced.  This is obviously a major concern to the many Debenhams employees, particulalry as other retail jobs are not re... View article Architecture - Queen’s Yard wins New London Architecture Award View article Queen’s Yard, a mixed-use redevelopment of Hackney Wick, has picked up the New London Architecture Award for Best Mixing Project 2020; having been shortlisted in three categories mixing, placemaking and housing categories.. This proje... View article Design Excellence should be the aim for Guildford View article There have been attempts over the ages to codify design. The Greeks and the Romans codified design principles by following a highly structured system of proportions that related individual architectural components to the whol... View article
Archived Articles
Debenhams - St Mary’s Wharf Stage 3 Consultation View article Native Land have commenced a three week Stage 3 of their consultation on the re-development of the Debenhams site.  The consultation is being done electronically and can be found on the St Mary’s Wharf Site .  There is a slide sh... View article 2020 Design Awards Winners - Guildford Society Design Awards View article The Guildford Society are pleased to announce the winners of the 2020 Design Awards. We are planning a virtual Awards Ceremony to be held later in the autumn. In a difficult year because of Covid 19, which delayed some new buildings in Guildford f... View article JTP - A major influence on design in Guildford View article JTP are a well-established practice of planners and architects which is destined to have a major influence on new developments in Guildford.  They have a special focus on placemaking. JTP have worked in Guildford before, being responsible for... View article Planning for the Future - Major changes ahead for planning system View article The government is consulting on a White Paper that proposes major changes to the plannning system.  The Society will be responding by the end of October.  The White Paper has prompted mixed reactions. The Society is on inital review has ... View article York - Major Plans for Zero Carbon Homes View article A news item in The Guardian outlines the city plans to build Britain’s biggest zero-carbon housing project, boasting 600 homes in car-free cycling paradises full of fruit trees and allotments. The council has selected as lead architect ... View article Guildford Park Rd Car Park – Quality of Design View article Modification The council is modifying its plans for the redevelopment of the Guildford Park Road Car Park (16/P/01290) by removing the Multi Storey Car Park (MSCP), with its circa 380 spaces. The space thus freed up will provide additional dwellin... View article Building Design - New Architecture of Interest View article Design of buildings can be judged in so many ways, Practicality, Cost, Aesthetics, Sustainability etc.  Design also evolves as new materials become available and/or the cost of materials changes. Modern design can invoke strong reactions both... View article Weyside Urban Village - Public Consultation View article The consultation on the plans to build the Weyside Urban Village is coming to its end. The last of a series of ‘virtual’ event is 4th November - See how to attend  Weyside Urban Village has a Website containing lots of inform... View article Planning for the Future View article Guildford Society has responded to the consultation on the Planning for the Future White Paper.  Although we can sympathise with the objectives to make the planning system simpler and the results better we have serious concerns that the White Pa... View article Civic Voice Response to Planning White Paper View article The Guildford Society as a civic society is a member of Civic Voice the national body of civic societies.  We have attended seminars run by Civic Voice on the White Paper – Planning for the Future..  Civic Voice have resp... View article North Street - Consultation on a new Scheme Starts View article The North Street site in Guildford Site is to the east of the Friary and currently in most part is vacant land beside the bus station.  It has been vacant for many years. The North Street page on this website contains additional background an... View article Changes to the Current Planning System - How many houses? View article The government is in the process of consulting on revisions to the current planning system including the Standard Method that is used to determine how many new dwellings should be accommodated in an areas local plan.  Although the Guildford plan... View article Development Management Policies - defining the look of Guildford for years to co... View article The society has responded to the Guildford Borough Local Plan: Development Management Policies  that provides the policy ‘teeth’ for the Local Plan; Strategic Sites agreed in 2019. The society believes the LPDMP is a weak doc... View article Going Green View article The Council are proposing to install 236 solar photovoltaic panels on the roof of Millmead.  Each of thses cells at maximum power can produce circa 300W of power so about 70Kw. A significant amount of power, although not 70Kw , will be generated... View article Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission – Final Report Published View article Living with Beauty the final report from the Building Better, Building Beautiful Commission has been published. The report has been used an input into the ‘Planning for the Future White’ paper.  It will also inform the ‘Na... View article North Street Policy from 17 years ago View article The council has on its website a Supplementary Planning Guidance (SPG) document for the North Street site written to support the Guildford Local Plan 2003. The SPG still appears to be an adopted document despite being 17 years old.  Many of its ... View article Views Supplementary Planning Document Consultation View article The council has now produced a supplementary Planning Document based on the Town Centre Views Study.  The society will be commenting in full to the council.  The society feels whilst a a useful document it does little to create or support p... View article 2018 Design Awards the winners are... View article The Guildford Society Good Design Awards ceremony, recognising standards of design and thereby safeguard Guildford’s architectural standards and heritage, was hosted (October 18, 2018) at the new Barker & Stonehouse store in Ladymead, itsel... View article Bargate Stone in the Guildford Area View article Bargate Stone is a highly durable form of sandstone. Quarried locally, it was used to build many of the historic buildings and walls, that give Guildford its character. Today many of these buildings and walls are in need of repair. Unfortunately m... View article Exhibition of art by Boris Fijalkowski View article Drawings and paintings by artist and architect Boris Fijalkowski, whose work has already appeared in several successful books on Guildford were shown in a dedicated exhibition at the Guildford House Gallery in March this year. Boris is a long-standi... View article The origins of the Rodboro' Building View article To the Guildfordians of the 1890s who knew him, the go-getting drive of the newly arrived young businessman from North Devon must have been very evident.  John Dennis trained in Bideford in the hardware trade and then took a position with the re... View article Guildford Riverside History View article Two sites at Guildford's historic heart, the former Farnham Road and Onslow Street bus stations, have been derelict for too long.  Both have enormous potential to enhance the visual and social amenities of the town.  The Guildford Socie... View article Guildford Historic Streets View article Guildford High Street is often seen on TV News where it is used as an icon for South East England. It is widely used to represent the town and county in tourist material.... View article

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