News on planning developments and issues. Planning Group (See More Details) focuses on Local Plan development and execution, as well as individual development sites.  We also post items of interest on planning from other organisations, including the government.

Planning requires the appropriate development of land to meet the requirements of housing, commercial and leisure space.

Guildford faces severe planning challenges, including the need, correctly, to preserve the AONB and Green Belt that covers much of the surrounding land.  Central government policy also requires Guildford to build a large number of dwellings over the next few years. This has been compounded by the Guildford Local Plan accepting a higher allocation of dwellings than is strictly necessary. 

Good development requires proper supporting infrastructure. This can either be physical (water, drains, electricity, transport) or amenities (health, education, shops, sport, leisure).  Guildford has a creaking infrastructure, overcrowded roads, overfull drains and overfull doctors’ surgeries.

The Society raised many issues with the Local Plan agreed by the Borough Council in 2019.  Sadly we are having to work with a very inadequate set of planning policies. The Society is continuing to press that Supplementary Planning Policies and Development Policies allow the Local Plan to be implemented in a manner that minimises damage to Guildford.

The Society supports plans to address town-centre issues such as the one-way system, under-use of the riverside and under-utilisation of other central sites. Guildford has suffered from planning blight in the past: seen in the current state of North Street. We want to ensure such mistakes are not repeated.

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

Planning Group collaborates with the Design and Heritage Group on commenting, as required, on planning applications.  We recognise there is overlap between the two groups.  Planning Group calls on the Design Group for expertise on the details of design for buildings and public spaces.

The Planning Group has a clearly defined remit and has produced a series of position papers on aspects of planning.

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

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 UK Planning Laws subject to yet another rethink. View article The replacement of Robert Jenrick by Michael Gove at a new department Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) that replaced the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) has caused a major rethink on vario... View article Decision delayed again on M25 junction 10 upgrade View article The Department of Transport has announced that the deadline for the decision on the go ahead for the M25/A3 Junction 10 upgrade has been extended from 12 January 2021 to 12 May 2021 and then to 12 November 2021 and now to 12 May 2022; A delay of... View article Statements of Community Involvement - Time for a Revision? View article Civic Voice the national body to which many Civic Trusts belong, including the Guildford Society, have been reviewing the use of Statements of Community Involvement (SCIs).  As part of a research partnership between Civic Voice and the U... View article Plaza Site Guildford - Environmental Issues View article The Plaza Site (Between the Portsmouth Rd and Bury St) 21/P/01811, has now been submitted as a development of ‘Co-Living Accommodation.  The Society will be reviewing and commenting to the planning application in detail shortly. ... View article Development Management Policies View article The Local Plan adopted by the Council in March 2019 is being fleshed out by further refinement of policies embodied in a Development Management (DMP) document.  The public consultation on the DMP is proposed to run from a date in November 2021 f... View article The 15 Minute Neighbourhood View article The four principles of the 15-minute neighbourhood was proposed by Carlos Moreno at the COP21 conference in 2015 Proximity: Things must be close. Diversity: Land uses must be mixed to provide a wide variety of urban amenities nearby. Densit... View article SCC Consult on Local Transport Plan View article Public Consultation is underway on the Surrey County Council Local Transport Plan 2022-2032.  Consultation closes on October 24th 2021 The forward to the plan highlights ‘Meeting the ambitious county and national carbon reduction target... View article Guildford Cathedral Housing Plans View article The Guildford Local Plan Policy A15 has allocated 100 houses on the South Side of the Cathdral Hill leading down to Arlesford Rd. A new round of consultation has now commentnced. VIVID and Guildford Cathedral held a public webinar on Thursday... View article Permitted Development Rights - loosening of the regulations View article Guildford is seeing an increasing number schemes coming forward based on using Permitted Development Rights (PDR’s).  As from 1st August the scope of PDR’s has been widened to include vacant shops, restaurants and gyms; as well as of... View article 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 Open up the Riverside - St Mary's Wharf a potential opportunity? View article One of the possible elements of the proposed redevelopment of the Debenhams to form St Mary's Wharf is the provision of a bridge from the south of the site over to the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre.  This would have the effect of potentially opening... 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 Guildford adopts computer modelling for planning View article Guildford Borough Council are in the process of implementing an advanced computer model of the Town and surroundings to support development and evaluation of plans for the borough. The software VU.CITY is used by a number of other Local Authoritie... 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 Station Development - Solum proposing changes. View article Solum, the Keir Network Rail Joint Venture, have requested from Guildford Borough Council an opinion on the scope of an Environmental Impact Assessment (‘EIA’) to be submitted in conjunction with a planning application for the Guildf... View article London lessons for Guildford View article Oxford Street first became synonymous with shopping and fashion in the late 19th century, marked by the opening of John Lewis in 1864, followed by House of Fraser (Fraser & Sons) in 1879, 1909 saw Selfridges open. In 2021, the picture is very ... View article Slyfield Sewage Works on the Move View article Thames Water plan to relocate the Guildford Sewage Treatment Works (STW) as a like-for-like replacement of the facilities, which treats wastewater for around 120,000 people.  Thames Water expect to submit a planning application to Surrey County ... 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 Planning - the Society responds to Commons Select Committee View article Three developments have occurred in the fight to get the Permitted Development Rights (PDR) changes and associate Use classifications reconsidered. Parliament The Select Committee for Housing, Communities and Local Government is conducting a sh... View article Planning – Whitehall ‘Taking Back Control’?. View article The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) at present seems to be pursuing three badly integrated objectives for housing which appear to be, build 300,000 houses a year, build anywhere and 'build better and beauti... 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 Affordable Housing - be flexible View article National Planning Policy in England expects affordable housing to be provided on-site in the first instance, but also states that off-site provision is acceptable where it can be robustly justified and contributes to mixed and balanced communities. ... 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 Where is the Centre of the Town? View article 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 Deben... View article Ipswich to become a 15 minute town. View article Ipswich is aiming to become UK’s first truly ‘connected town centre’, a progression of the internationally recognised model known as the ’15-minute city’.   The 15-minute city is the concept that residents s... 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 Progress on Town Centre Masterplan - Updated View article Amongst many items the GBC Budget Council Meeting on the 10th February 2021 discussed and approved; was the budget for the Guildford Economic Regeneration Programme (GERP), which includes the Town Centre Masterplan. The Programme is to be run as a... 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 Casino Site - Appeal Withdrawn View article The Casino appeal hearing has been withdrawn on the second day of the hearing.  Both the Guildford Society, focussing on height issues, and Guildford Residents Association, focussing on flooding and detailed design issues, objected to th... 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 How high in Guildford Town View article 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 bu... 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 GSA - A Design Influence in Guildford View article Garner Stewart Architects (GSA) have been retained by Taylor Wimpey to design the Wisley Site. GSA is an award winning architecture, masterplanning and urban design practice. They have delivered projects for more than 4 decades, in all sectors, inclu... 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 The View on your next trip to London View article Due to Covid it will have been a long time since many have travelled by train into Waterloo.  The final part of the journey has over the last decade always provided a view of massive development mainly of flats of various types in the Vauxhall a... View article Report on the letters 1 Jan to 30 June 2020 View article During the period there were a potential 993 planning applications we could have looked at.  We sifted through these applications and considered in detail 89 of them.  The Group wrote 41 letters to the Head of Planning Services on a wide ra... View article Guildford Not Meeting its Housing Targets View article The Ministry of Housing and Local Government (MHCLG) has just published (19-1-2021) its annual report on Housing Delivery Test that monitors local authorities delivery of new houses against plans.  Guildford is identified as a borough that needs... 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 Permitted Development Rights – Good News? View article The Society has been concerned at the loophole in planning regulations that provided no minimum standards for dwellings created by conversion of commercial buildings via Permitted Development Rights. Permitted Development Rights have delivered 60,000... 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 Greenbelt reduces by 6% View article The recent publication from the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) of Greenbelt Statistics confirms that Guildford has seen a 6% reduction in Greenbelt land.  This is due to policies adopted in the new 2019 local plan. ... View article The Housing Demand Algorithm being rethought? View article There has been a deluge of comments about the Housing Algorithm.  Wired Magazine has a good summary of the issues that the Algorithm might cause if it is proceeded with. This last weekend 14th 15th November there have been press comments that... 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 is migrating from paper to IT. View article The recent Planning for the Future White Paper presents proposals to enable the planning system using IT technology, although it is lacking in specific details.  It is interesting that use of IT may be happening anyway.  Most Architectural ... 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 Planning - Can Brighton teach Guildford a lesson? View article Brighton currently has a mixed-use development by First Base underway in the centre of the city.  The site is on the old American Express complex, the area concerned is similar to that available at North Street in Guildford. Brighton Council ... 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 A New Guildford Quarter View article A Opportunity Missed? It is instructive to visit Walnut Tree Close as many of the new buildings are completed or almost complete.  It is an opportunity missed to plan an effective set of buildings that related to each other, create a sense... View article National Infrastructure Strategy View article New National Infrastructure Strategy This was published alongside the Chancellors latest economic Statement (November 2020) (See link below) It is a response by the government to the work done by the National Infrastructure Commission in a... 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 Permitted Development Rights - further change View article The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) has issued another set of changes to permitted development rights for consultation.  These changes cover A new permitted development right for a change of use to residential... View article Letters Written about Planning Applications 1st July to 31st December 2019 View article During the period under review there were a potential 1,039 planning applications we could have looked at. We sifted through these applications and considered in detail 72 of them. The Group wrote twenty seven letters to the Head of Planning Services... View article New Standard Method for Housing Numbers - 787 for Guildford View article New Standard Method Updated with new information on 17-12-2020 In the summer the Ministry for Housing and Local Government consulted on a new formula to allocate housing numbers that Local Plans should seek to achieve in England. The Society... View article Restart at the Solum Guildford Station Site View article After a delay of about a year it appears work is starting in earnest at Guildford Station to develop the Solum Scheme Work starts in early 2021 that will provide a new temporary two-storey car park with 121 parking bays and an access road tha... View article Swindon Revising its Bus System - ideas for Guildford View article A Scheme with Relevance to Guildford Swindon Borough Council has been awarded £25m funding, towards creating a Bus Boulevard Scheme, through the Government’s Future High Streets Fund, which supports local areas’ plans to make the... View article London Plan to be adopted in 2021 View article Lichfields the Planning Consultancy issued just before Christmas a short summary on the finalisation of the London Plan.  What happens in London does affect Guildford and two aspects are worth highlighting Pressure on the Greenbelt Chan... View article Weyside Urban Village Planning Application View article A planning application has now been submitted for the Weyside Urban Village, which is part of the allocated site for the Slyfield Area Regeneration Project for a mixed-use development. The planning application covers: Outline planning approv... View article Develop the Castle? View article It is unlikly to affect the Castle but the Ministry of Housing Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) have been exceptionally busy in the past few months revising Permitted Development Rights.  The MHCLG has now issued yet another consultation... 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 Letters Written about Planning Applications 1st Jan 30th Jun 2019 View article During the period under review there were a potential 1,281 planning applications we could have looked at. We sifted through these applications and considered in detail 84 of them. The Group wrote thirty seven letters to the Head of Planning Services... View article Report on the letters 1 July to 31 December 2018 View article Report on the letters 1July to 31 December 2018 The has reviewed planning applications received by the council and commented as necessary.  This note provides a record of letters written by the group to Guildford Borough Council about pl... View article Station Development - 2 Metres preventing a sensible solution - Network Rail Rep... View article Network Rail has replied to our concerned expressed in a letter to Chris Grayling Secretary of State.  The letter is available at this link.  The society is still concerned that Network Rail is taking a short term 20-25 year view and is com... View article Station Development - 2 Metres preventing a sensible solution View article The Guildford Vison Group (GVG) recently shared documents obtained under a Freedom of Information request to Network Rail.  These show that the Solum development is blocking the provision of a Eastern platform (Platform 0), despite reassurance... 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 Strategic Sites - Development Management Policies 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 Planning Group Annual Report 2019 View article Planning Group Annual Report 2019 A busy year with the adoption of the Local Plan with development of sites in the borough continuing apace.  The placement of Student housing has been a particular concern, together with change of use at Burch... View article Letters written about Planning to June 2018 View article The Planning Group meets every three weeks at the Guildford Borough Council (“GBC”) offices.  During the period under review there were a potential 1,132 planning applications we could have looked at.  We sifted through these ap... View article Local Plan - Serious Investment Required View article

A very important stage in the development has been reached with the latest Local Plan Consultation completed in July 2017. 


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