Design & Heritage News

News on Design aspects of new developments and impact on Guildford’s outstanding built heritage.  We also post items of interest on design from other organisations, including the government.  We maintain a page of National & Local Planning Policies   

Design and Heritage Group

See (Read More> below) provides the Society's focus on preserving our heritage and how best to encourage good design in new developments and associated public spaces. 

Design & Heritage Group

The group drawn from members with a variety of backgrounds meets monthly.  The group also interacts with the planning group on reviewing planning applications.  The group works to the following principles and manages the Guildford Design Awards, Annual Architecture Lecture, and participation in Heritage Open Days


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 (See below).

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.

The Society in conjunction with the University of Surrey hosts an annual Architecture Lecture.

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 caused the foundation on which the Guildford Society. 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, which 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.

Clandon House - Latest Plans View article At a meeting on 27th March 20124, members of the Guildford Society, and their guests, welcomed  Kent Rawlinson, National Trust Project Director and Sophie Chessum, Project Curator at St Catherine’s Hall to hear the latest plans for the fut... View article We can now see the reality. View article The Solum scheme at Guildford Station emphasises the inappropriateness of high buildings in Guildford Centre. The first part of the Solum redevelopment has now been completed as the north block of dwellings on the station car park.  This bloc... View article A Visit to a Highly Praised Development View article A group from the Guildford Society visited the Elephant Park - West Grove - South (previously known as Orchard Gardens) in the Elephant Castle, London recently.  We were joined by several Guildford Councilors and Planning Officers. We we... View article The Phoenix in Lewes has received planning permission View article The Society has been following with interest The Phoenix development proposed for Lewes for over a year.  We were lucky to have had a presentation from the developers Human Nature last November. The Observer Guardian has piblished 17/3/24 a a... View article A Bridge Needing Repair? View article Having been constructed in 1896 the pedestrian bridge crossing from beside the  Yvonne Arnaud Theatere to Millmead is showing signs of its age.  The Iron Strap Work on the bridge sides is rusting badly in places with some straps being ... View article Guildford Design Awards 2023 - Winners Announced View article The Guildford Design Awards, organised by The Guildford Society in partnership with Guildford Borough Council recognise and reward excellence in architecture, urban design, planning and public art across the borough. At a event in the Boatyard Gui... View article Architecture Lecture 2023 - Videos of the Event View article The Society, in conjunction with the University of Surrey held its Annual Architecture Lecture on the 4th October 2023. The topic was Addressing the Challenges of Urban Housing Design. The Guildford Society with our partners the University... View article Guildford Design Awards 2023 - Short List Announced View article The Guildford Design Awards, organised by The Guildford Society in partnership with Guildford Borough Council recognise and reward excellence in architecture, urban design, planning and public art across the borough. We are delighted to announce t... View article New London Architecture (NLA) View article Although outside the borough New London Architecture (NLA) is a organisation that can provide interesting ideas for Guildford. NLA is an independent, purpose-led organisation for everyone with an interest in London’s built environment. It co... View article Placemaking Scoring Matrix View article Policy exchange have published a paper 'Better Places - A Matrix for Measuring & Delivering Placemaking Quality'  on a proposal to have a Placemaking Matrix to score new developments. The paper has been authored by Ike Ijeh a prac... View article Notable new Timber Buildings in London View article The Office Group a few months ago opened a new mass-timber office building the ‘Black & White Building’ in Shoreditch.  Waugh Thistleton Architects  designed the building, which is claimed to be currently the tallest ma... View article Munstead Wood - Godalming View article The Trust has bought the house and garden, both Grade 1 listed, built for Gertrude Jekyll, one of the most influential garden designers of the last century. She lived at the property until her death  in 1932. She transformed gardens across th... View article Guildford’s Character is Changing View article As we have reviewed many of the larger sites in Guildford Town, along the Wey corridor in preparation for the extension of our website to cover Key Sites, we have become increasing concerned at how the Town will evolve over the next decade. W... View article Interesting CLT development in London View article Community land trusts – or CLTs – are democratic, non profit organisations that own and develop land for the benefit of the community. They ensure that their homes are permanently and genuinely affordable. CLTs act as long-term stewards o... View article Innovative Eco Friendly Regeneration - Updated 6-23 View article Human Nature  was founded by Jonathan Smales and Michael Manolson who were directors and international trustees of Greenpeace in the 1980s.  Post Greenpeace they consulted widely, as Human Nature,  with major businesses, investors... View article Innovation in timber in Zurich View article Dezeen the online architectural design magazine has a series of articles on the the Timber Revolution in building technology.  The latest in the series examines the Tamedia Office Building in Zurich by Shigeru Ban which is Sw... View article The Rise of Retrofitting View article Retrofitting (a term that covers Refurbishment, Repurposing) is a conscious move away from the practice of knocking down office and retail buildings after 25 to 30 years to build again, and it is starting to catch on.  Although there are example... View article One of the Lowest Carbon-Emitting workplaces in the UK View article The Bruntwood Property Company has received permission to build Ev0, a £31m office building designed by Sheppard Robson. The building is aimed at being one of the lowest carbon-emitting workspaces in the country.  The Ev0 buil... View article Balancing Heritage and Growth View article A collaboration by the Historic Towns and Villages Forum, the Alliance of Historic Cathedral Cities and Towns and Allies and Morrison Urban Practitioners have been looking at the issues at balancing growth in Historic Cities and Towns with their Heri... View article National Trust – Octavia Hill Lecture - Clandon Park View article The National Trust have launched a lecture series named after one of its co- founders Octavia Hill and is planned as an opportunity to explore our shared past and place in the world today. Each annual lecture will be delivered by a guest historian or... View article St Mary's/ Debenhams Scheme a Poor Scheme Approved View article The council planning committee passed the planning application for the redevelopment of the Debenhams site in the Town centre by Six votes to Five last night with two abstentions.  Voting was along party lines, Residents for Guildford and Villag... View article Sustainable co-living housing on stilts View article Salford City Council has granted permission for an innovative development on a disused site on a flood plain on the banks of the River Irwell. Part of the development will be on stilts to handle the issues of building on a flood plain. The new dev... View article Timber Frame Mixed Use Scheme approved View article Foster + Partners have had a scheme approved on behalf of a real estate managment company MARK in partnership with Finchatton and General Projects to replace 1950's Housing with two seven storey buildings as part of a mixed use development. Th... View article Architecture Lecture 2022 View article The Society, in conjunction with the University of Surrey held its Annual Architecture Lecture on the 19th October 2022. The topic was Sustainable Design in Housing, addressing the Climate and Energy crisis Recently, with concerns rising over t... View article Innovative Approaches to Housing View article A Different Approach Architect Peter Barber is noted for delivering interesting housing, often on difficult sites. His projects reference older styles of housing and ways of living which have proved sustainable. This is in contrast to many contemp... View article Guildford Should Do Better View article A large amount of new housing being proposed in Guildford still fails to meet the challenges of Climate Change, despite the council declaring a Climate Emergency.  There are examples of new houses still being proposed to be built with gas boiler... View article Guildford Deserves Better View article The Society has written to all councillors making the following comments on the St Mary's/Debenehams application for redevelopment. Note sent to Councillors The Committee in its determination of the application to redevelop the Debenhams/St... View article Building Heights in Guildford Town Centre View article Schemes are being proposed for North Street, Stag Hill, Debenhams and Guildford Park Road together with Station (Solum) and Portsmouth Rd (Old electricity Board Offices) being built at present.  The Council Executive is also scheduled to revi... View article Wisley Airfield – First stage of detailed planning. View article Taylor Wimpey have submitted a large Hybrid planning application (See more information at foot of this post).  This planning application lays down the basic shape of the development; access, centres of development etc.  It will be supplemen... View article St Marys/Debenhams Site View article The Debenhams/St Marys site is a critical one for the centre of the Guildford capable of re-invigorating the riverside, providing public facilities and housing.  Note we are not against the site being redeveloped, but it needs a high quality pro... View article Revised Plans for Clandon Park View article The National Trust have announced a radically new approach  for the preservation of the fire damaged shell of Clandon Park.  Clandon Park was severely damaged in a fire in 2015 leaving only the exterior walls and one major internal room sti... View article Guildford Design Awards 2022/3 and Guildford Design Awards Exhibition. View article The Guildford Design Awards is a joint initiative between the Guildford Society and Guildford Borough Council, established to encourage and recognise good design in new buildings, restoration and conservation projects which ensure... View article Guildford Architecture View article Guildford has an amazing number of buildings designed by architectural ‘names’ Voysey, Shaw, Lutyens and in recent times Grimshaw at the University of Surrey.  A lesser-known architect is Alfred Claude Burlingham who was active in th... View article Guildford Park Road - Updated View article Guildford Borough Council (GBC) own the Guildford Park Road Car Park adjoining the west side of the rail tracks just north of the station.  In 2017 GBC secured consent for a planning application (16/P/01290) to create 160 new homes and a fi... View article Maintaining the feel of a place View article The Crucible in Sheffield is known as the home of the Snooker World Championship.  It is a much-loved venue both by the players and the public. Snooker has developed to be a worldwide sport.  The Crucible, to respond to this growth, and kee... View article Saving Department Store Buildings View article The 20th Century Society seeks to protect and preserve the best of 20th Century Architecture.  They are running a campaign to save department store buildings from needless demolition if they have architectural merit and can be repurposed.  ... View article North Street -New Proposals for the Site (Updated) View article St Edward – a joint venture between The Berkeley Group and M&G Real Estate – has recently exchanged contracts with Guildford Borough Council to transform the underutilised site into a contemporary new neighbourhood of approximately 50... View article Design South East - Meeting Housing Demand in the South East View article Design South East are an independent charitable organisation encouraging good design in the built environment organisation working entirely in the public interest, across the wider south east.  They have been in operation for 25 years. Guildf... View article Timber Offices View article The German Bundestag (Parliament) has a new office building.  The delivery of the office block caused much amazement as it came in on time and on budget – locals are used to major issues with buildings as evidenced by the lengthy and costl... View article A future for vacant Department Stores View article Two interesting news items concerning how best to use old Department Stores. Repurposing the buildings may in many cases be a better option particulalry when issues with embodied carbon are taken into account. Emporia at Risk SAVE Britains Heri... View article Making a destination in Folkstone View article Folkstone has produced a new destination in the Town housed in an innovative building. Folkestone 51 (F51) is the world’s first purpose built multi-storey skatepark.  It also houses other sports facilities. Funded by The Roger De Haa... View article Guildford Crematorium - Civic Trust Award View article The Civic Trust have just announced their awards for excellence in the Built Environment 2022. The awards are celebrating their 63rd year  The winners can be seen at this link.  Developments in Guildford recognised The Town has two bu... View article North Street – Bus Station agreement View article A major hurdle to developing plans for the North Street site has been resolved by the Guildford Borough Council Executive approving the high-level design and specification for the retention of the bus station on its current site that needs to be agre... View article St Marys Update View article The proposals for the redevelopment of the Debenhams site on the River Wey to form a new St Mary’s Wharf development continue to attract comment on the Guildford Borough Planning website.  Many support the application but those, includi... View article Demonstrating high-quality, high density housing. View article Feilden Clegg Bradley Studios (Jason Cornish) gave one of the two presentations at the Architecture Lecture 2021 last autumn. The Architecture Journal and The Guardian have published articles on a scheme where FCBS have developed the overall ... View article TFL continue to uphold Good Design and Architecture. View article Transport for London, following the tradition set by Frank Pick between the first and second world wars, and more recently the Jubilee Line extension, has promoted good design in the Elizabeth line stations.  TFL have issued a short vi... View article An interesting small development in Buckinghamshire by ZCD View article Many of the smaller developments being proposed in villages in Guilford Borough are undistinguished in layout, being mostly designed around the motor car with little regard to community. A small schemes recently completed in Buckinghamshire shows ... View article 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
Archived Articles
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 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 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 - 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

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