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
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.
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.
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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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... 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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.