Fringe Box



Aldi’s Planning for Burpham Site Refused In Chaotic Planning Meeting

Published on: 1 May, 2013
Updated on: 6 May, 2013
Green Man 1

The Green Man site at Burpham where Aldi want to build a new store

The application to build an Aldi discount supermarket at the Green Man site in Burpham was refused last night (30 April) by Guildford Borough Council (GBC) among scenes that, at times, verged on the farcical.

The motion to refuse the application was eventually defeated, after a recount of raised hands, by a slim majority of what appeared to be ten votes to nine. The vote count was not clearly announced. The result was met with applause from Burpham residents in the public gallery.

The Council Leader Stephen Mansbridge (Con, Ash South and Tongham) immediately requested that a comment that he was unhappy with the way the meeting had been conducted and that he wanted it reviewed as soon as possible was recorded in the minutes.

The motion to refuse the application had been proposed by Cllr Monica Juneja (Con, Burpham) who said that she was dissatisfied with it on the grounds that: the availability of alternative, suitable sites (referred to as ‘sequential testing’) had not been properly examined; that the proposed development was out of character with its surroundings; and that parking was insufficient.

To the surprise of all present, in the middle of a speech from Cllr Matt Furniss (Con, Christchurch), the chairman of the planning committee, Cllr Gordon Jackson (Con, Pirbright), called for a 10-minute adjournment to allow him to have discussions with council officers and Cllr Juneja.

Council officers present at the meeting, who had recommended approval of the plan, were clearly concerned that if the decision is appealed by Aldi the reasons for refusal can be defended. There is a risk that if they are not an appeal could be allowed and costs awarded against GBC, as has happened on previous occasions.

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Responses to Aldi’s Planning for Burpham Site Refused In Chaotic Planning Meeting

  1. David Smith Reply

    May 1, 2013 at 12:39 pm

    This isn’t a victory for Burpham it’s simply more additional cost for the taxpayer.

    This application was recommended for approval by qualified planners and as such if it goes to appeal the decision is almost guaranteed to be overturned.

    In the meantime what have Burpham residents gained? An eyesore of an empty site for several more years.

    Aldi won’t walk away from this like Waitrose could at Haydon Place, Aldi owns the Green Man site!

    I am embarrassed for Cllr Monica Juneja and others. It is behaviour like this that makes some of us wonder whether those on planning committees should undergo basic training.

  2. Celia Johnson Reply

    May 1, 2013 at 3:11 pm

    Who said anything about a victory for Burpham?

    It was made clear at last night’s shambolic meeting that residents want something to be built on the old Green Man site. They just don’t want it to come at such a high price as increased traffic, further parking problems and danger to pedestrians.

    Aldi are perfectly capable of selling the site on for development.

    Once Aldi is built there, residents will be powerless to protest about something which could adversely affect their daily lives.

  3. Jim Allen Reply

    May 2, 2013 at 7:40 am

    The meeting was certainly ‘different’. It was noticeable that the committee voted on political lines not planning considerations, which is a concern.

    The community objected on sensible and rational grounds. My enquiries have shown that the ownership of the land is, as I understand it, undeclared in the land registry. So Aldi might only have an option on the site rather than ownership.

    The community actually want, “a meeting place of some kind”. This seems unrecorded.

    As for planning officers recommendations: some incredible claims: A car park which will never fill up? A road which won’t be affected by half a million plus extra journeys onto the roundabout? A ten minute catchment area (this could extend as far as Cobham and Hindhead)? Restricted opening hours (which, from experience elsewhere in Guildford, might be changed as soon as the applicant had built the ‘in character’ store)?

    Plus a ‘sequential test’ which excluded three readily available sites and the 25 or 30 jobs (probably all under 16 hours a week provided by incoming staff).

    Yes a farce all right, but who created it? And who perpetrated it?

  4. Bibhas Neogi Reply

    May 2, 2013 at 1:04 pm

    I live in Godalming, so it doesn’t directly concern me. I might very occasionally shop there if they have something unusual on special offer.

    If it is built as planned, it will be much smaller than Sainsbury’s and would sell a comparatively limited range of products. Shoppers would shop for a much shorter time there compared with larger supermarkets and turn over in the car park would also be quicker.

    After the initial curiosity has decreased, most of the shoppers would be from those who would have gone to Sainsburys. Hence, I imagine, not much extra traffic would be attracted to London Road. With ever increasing price of fuel, a few pence saved on a carton of orange juice would not, I would have thought, be sufficient for a special journey. Anyway, ‘No queueing on highway’ notices should should work if queueing for the car park proves to be a problem.

    On a separate traffic issue, improvements to the A3 in the form of a northbound off-slip to Clay Lane leading to a roundabout on Clay Lane and a southbound on-slip perhaps replacing the emergency access by the bridge would reduce traffic in London Road significantly.

    I understand Guildford Borough Council has initiated, or will shortly initiate a study into the improvement of the A3 through Guildford and they are liaising with Surrey County Council and the Highways Agency.

    • Jim Allen Reply

      May 5, 2013 at 1:12 am

      Mr Neogi’s clearly has technical knowledge but I would question his common sense.

      Notices make no difference to people who decide to park and they will simply queue in the road until a space is available. This is clear at Debenham’s and every other car park in Guildford on busy days. I have even been stuck in car park queues when wanting to go straight on in Godalming.

      Although Aldi claim that he shopping visit would only last 35 minutes that has to be multiplied by half a million visits a year.

      As for a northbound off slip road on Clay Lane, Mr Neogi has not considered the implications to Sutton Green and Jacob’s Well.
      Far better a north-bound off slip road at Woking Road, using the width available to reduce traffic pressure by making it a dual carriageway through to Woking.

      As for south-bound traffic, the idea of vehicles crossing a road onto a slip road with a 90 degree bend onto a 70 mph road is simply not feasible or safe. And as for reducing traffic on London Road, I cannot see how this would happen. It is blocked A3 traffic which uses the old London Road to escape the southwards A3 blockages. What use would a southbound A3 slip road back into the blockage be?

      Inserting new slip roads need to be done with extreme care and sensible traffic modelling because any new slip roads will fundamentally change traffic patterns and not always for the better.

      As Mr Wicks says, the community of Burpham want a community facility, a pub-restaurant or meeting venue of some kind. A survey shows this desire to have a 75% majority. They also want it to blend into the locality, not stick out like a sore thumb as Morrision’s does in Aldershot.

  5. Trevor Wicks Reply

    May 2, 2013 at 1:22 pm

    I wonder what David Smith’s qualification are that he can pass judgement?

    If these so called planners are so well qualified how come they get it wrong so many times.

  6. Sarah Taylor Reply

    May 2, 2013 at 8:45 pm

    I hope Aldi make an appeal.

  7. David Smith Reply

    May 3, 2013 at 9:09 am

    In response to Trevor Wicks.

    I don’t parade my qualifications around like the Guildford Vision Group, for want of an example, but since you ask I am a Chartered Surveyor and have a great deal of experience in planning or, in the case of the other night, ‘bad planning’.

    I am sure that Aldi will appea, that the chances of success are extremely high and that the tax payer will have to pay all the associated costs.

    So yes I do feel qualified to comment but really this is quite basic and common sense to most. Here we have qualified planners and Highways (a seperate entity) recommending the scheme is approved yet councillors (goodness only knows who voted the Burpham one in) not following the advice of their own planning team. I mean the recommedation to approve is all that the planning inspectorate will need to make the right decision here.

  8. Trevor Wicks Reply

    May 3, 2013 at 6:06 pm

    The planners get it wrong more often than not in Guildford. This is a local issue and from all the surveys the people of Burpham dont want an Aldi on that site. It is the wrong place. Anybody who lives around can see that.

    If you travel round the country you can see the mess that planners have made. Why are Aldi so keen to build on the site if it is not going to attract customers and bring more traffic to an already congested area?

    Why do Aldi misrepresent the facts for example only one shopkeeper in Kingpost Parade wanted an Aldi not all the shopkeepers as Aldi presented?

    They thought they could push it through. I think our councillors have done an excellent job in representing the views of the people. Isn’t that democracy or do we have to bow to council officers’ opinions? If Aldi had been straightforward from the start they may have got through first time.

  9. Caroline Reeves Reply

    May 4, 2013 at 6:19 pm

    I would like to point out what has been said in the report of the meeting: not all councillors supported the motion for refusal, indeed some of us spoke in favour of the officers’ recommendation to approve and agreed that the decision is highly likely to be overturned at appeal, with costs awarded against the Borough.

    But we live in a democracy and the majority vote won. Also, planning should not be political, but perhaps some of the comments made on all the applications reflected the proximity of the county elections?

    • Jim Allen Reply

      May 5, 2013 at 1:20 am

      It is a great shame that any elected Councillor should support such a proposal. The building is totally out of character with its surroundings, even if it is a pretty building in its self.

      Would Ms Reeves have voted for it if there were incumbent Liberal Democrat councillors in Burpham? Would the planning officers have been so supportive of the proposal if the Neighbourhood Forum had failed in its application for status?

      I suspect politics played a large part in the Lib Dems voting en bloc for this potentially disastrous application in a Conservative ward.

      As for the future, time will tell. Burpham should be allowed what it wants and not what planners and the Lib Dems are trying to force on us. Hopefully, any appeal will fail.

  10. Bibhas Neogi Reply

    May 5, 2013 at 4:24 pm

    I would ask Jim Allen to take a little time to study and understand my proposals for the entire stretch of the A3 through Guildford.

    If had seen the proposals on my website, he would not make such remarks about the 90 degree bend etc. My proposals are a series of measures to alleviate congestion for both southbound and northbound traffic on the A3 as well as on Ladymead and London Road. Of course, traffic modelling will be required to establish what would work and what wouldn’t. Modelling is done to prove that the concepts and ideas work.

    However, judging by his remark, “Inserting new slip roads need to be done with extreme care and sensible traffic modelling because any new slip roads will fundamentally change traffic patterns and not always for the better,” he sounds as if you are a qualified traffic engineer. Is he?

    If he is he should have no difficulty in understanding that my proposal for the northbound off-slip at Clay Lane is not for Woking traffic, it is primarily for Burpham bound traffic but it will also serve the Slyfield development, if it comes about.

    Off-slip to Woking Road at the Stoke Road Interchange is another of my proposals. Dualling Woking Road is a completely separate issue.

    I do not see traffic or parking to be the problem at this site otherwise Highways would not have recommended acceptance. There may be other genuine reasons for not having Aldi on this site, but it is not for me to take sides.

    • Jim Allen Reply

      May 6, 2013 at 12:08 pm

      Mr Neogi says that the north-bound slip road is “not for Woking”, so traffic is not going to come off at Burpham (the ‘right side’ of Guildford) and go through the meandering lanes of Jacobs Well and Sutton Green – they will keep their original congested route will they? How are you going to stop the local traffic from going through these routes?

      As for a road to Slyfield across a flood plain and some of the last green space in Guildford onto Clay lane, it’s simply not logical, for similar reasons, especially if it all depends on a 17 acre site and Thames Water moving from their current location.

      Regarding SCC Highways stating it is not a problem, the officer who made that statement refused an invitation to come and explain his workings to the community.

      • Martin Giles Reply

        May 6, 2013 at 12:28 pm

        This debate is becoming a cure for insomnia. Why not meet up and discuss your ideas face to face? You both want the best solution for Guildford. Ed.

  11. Bibhas Neogi Reply

    May 6, 2013 at 8:00 pm

    My questionable common sense tells me that it will not be a good idea to discuss technical matters with someone like Mr Allen. He obviously has far superior innate knowledge in matters of development of Guildford and its surrounding areas, solutions for traffic congestions etc.

    I on the other hand having worked for the Dept. of/for Transport and the Highways Agency for nearly forty years and being involved in some ways with most of the motorways and trunk roads in SE England have not gained enough experience to judge what would be a sensible proposal in such matters. I confess that I must have failed miserably.

    So at the risk of sending the remainder of the readers who haven’t fallen asleep by now, I promise not to post any more on this topic. Good night all.

    • Martin Giles Reply

      May 6, 2013 at 10:05 pm

      Mr Neogi your knowledge is obvious as is Mr Allen’s justifiable concern, as a Burpham resident.

      Anyway, I hope you will both understand if I call time on this particular debate now but I do hope I don’t put you or others off from commenting again on other issues. Ed

  12. Andy Sleigh Reply

    February 10, 2014 at 5:39 am

    Can’t we just build a nice period building and have it as a Harvester restaurant again.
    That’s what I as a guildford resident want.
    Not a smaller supermarket next to a bigger supermarket.
    Find another site.

  13. John James Reply

    September 30, 2014 at 9:27 pm

    I would completely support Aldi here and think a local convenience store is needed in Burpham too – maybe like Tesco Extra.

    Also the A3 exit slip road is a great idea, come off at Clay Lane where Bowers Lane is and the cottages.

    Don’t go over the allotment area though please.

    • Jim Allen Reply

      October 1, 2014 at 9:41 am

      I think Mr James should look at the traffic figures and perhaps suggest why he considers 1,600 extra traffic movements onto Burpham Roads is acceptable on top of the 5,000+ cars and 300 plus HGVs (GLP) through Burpham.

      If he wants a Tesco Extra, where should it be built in Burpham? I guess he took my suggestion of a platform over the top of all the houses in Burpham as a serious suggestion.

      In respect of a north bound off slip road – again he clearly has not thought through his suggestion. It would mean a 20 foot embankment on Clay Lane, 15 foot 6 inch HGV max height 7 metre safety clearance, of 125kv electrical cables, which are 28 feet above the ground. Do the maths, then study the potential traffic patterns of Sutton Green, Jacobs Well, New Inn Lane, Clay Lane, and Park Lane.

      Also the Clay Lane ramp is collapsing at 1mm per year but don’t worry about that it’s just been papered over. And to move the cables – four new pylons across green belt would be required.

      Please also note the people of Burpham didn’t object to Aldi “because it was Aldi” but for the following reasons in no particular order:

      1. it is too close to the roundabout, thus this development is not future proof preventing the predicted need to widen the road at this location;

      2. the traffic level predicated is 1,600 vehicles extra per day onto a roundabout which is over capacity in the rush hour;

      3. the car park is too small to cope with the number of cars predicted over the allotted time scale of the day and increase in trade since the planning application;

      4. the building is out of character to the community contrary to the 2003 Local plan.

      But why bother with these technical facts which in any rational planned society would be considered when developing a site? Only in Burpham, Guildford could this occur. Other examples are – the recent felling of Trees subject to tree preservation orders (recinded after planning permission granted) and the building and now extension of Raynham Close, totally out of character, but passed by the planners.

      Besides the irational thinking of additional shops in Burpham perhaps Mr James should consider the residents real needs in respect of a community centre of adequate size – a 100 person capacity hall for 5000 people is hardly a community hall, a doctors surgey such that people don’t have to leave Burpham to visit a Doctor, a meeting place such that locals can meet and eat inside their own community. All common features of other wards and parishes of Guildford denied to the people of Burpham…

      Why would one think of these things unless they lived outside Burpham or had no intention of being part of the community of Burpham.
      Burpham has been the dumping ground of bad planning decisons for too many years – it is time to call a halt on this practice.

      And finally I would guess Mr James is in Favour of the slyfield development and doesn’t realise that Bellfields allotments will be destroyed by this plan when he wants to Save Bowers lane ‘prison enclosure’sorry ‘secure allotments’ I rest my case….

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