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Debenhams to be Demolished for Homes, Divisive Plan Approved

Published on: 22 Nov, 2022
Updated on: 24 Nov, 2022

Developer’s CGI of how the new buildings will look.

By Martin Giles and Emily Coady Stemp (local democracy reporter)

The proposal to demolish the existing Debenhams Store and replace it with two new buildings, higher but of smaller footprint, was passed by a single vote at tonight’s marathon GBC Planning Committee meeting, which lasted nearly three hours. 

The new development will be mainly residential with commercial units on the ground floor.

Of the total 185 homes in the development, just five of the one-bedroomed homes had been allocated as affordable housing.

It is one of several large projects planned for the town centre at the moment, with councillors having agreed another £3 million for the area’s masterplan in September.

The development will include homes, shops and possibly a cinema, as well as a riverside walkway and a public square.

The plans had been amended to use materials that would reflect the surrounding buildings such as the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, St Nicholas’ church and Guildford Castle.

Although consideration of planning applications is required to be apolitical, the voting, six for the proposal, five against and two abstentions, was along party lines.

All five R4GV members: Chris Barrass (Clandon & Horsley), Chris Blow (Shalford), Colin Cross (Lovelace), Maddy Redpath (Holy Trinity), and Deborah Seabrook (Merrow) voted for the application joined by Ramsey Nagaty of GGG.

Four of the five Lib Dem members voted against: Liz Hogger (Effingham), George Potter (Burpham) Pauline Searle (Stoughton) and chair Fiona White (Westborough) were joined by Labour’s Angela Gunning (Stoke).

There were two abstentions, one from the Lib Dem John Askew (Onslow) and one from the only Conservative present, Paul Spooner (Ash South & Tongham). Other Conservative members of the committee, David Bilbe and Marsha Moseley, were absent.

See also: Single Vote Decides Debenhams Plan Following Wide-ranging Debate



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Responses to Debenhams to be Demolished for Homes, Divisive Plan Approved

  1. Dee Bruce Reply

    November 22, 2022 at 11:06 pm

    Such an important decision for Guildford town, made by just a handful of councillors.

    How can something which has such a massive impact on the town be voted on by so few? Why are they allowed to abstain?

    Forget the councillors – put the vote out to the residents of Guildford. Only then will we achieve the best and correct outcome.

    The development would have been acceptable with a reduction in height. This could have been negotiated, but no. The residents of Guildford will not forgive those councillors who voted for this.

    A sad day.

  2. K Addison Reply

    November 23, 2022 at 9:56 am

    The buildings are too high and not in character with the rest of lovely Guildford.

  3. Frank Emery Reply

    November 23, 2022 at 12:16 pm

    Let them just get on with it and stop moaning.

  4. Roger Main Reply

    November 23, 2022 at 12:44 pm

    At long last sense prevails.

    Once built it will be beneficial to Guildford and the community in general.

  5. Janet Moorhouse Reply

    November 23, 2022 at 2:05 pm

    This is a tragedy for Guildford.

  6. Bibhas Neogi Reply

    November 23, 2022 at 4:42 pm

    I watched the session on webcast and I thought, judging by his contribution to the debate, that Cllr Ramsey Nagaty [GGG, Shalford] was not in favour of the Debenham’s proposal.

    He was only the councillor who raised the delivery and collection of demolition debris by lorries and the associated traffic issues in Millbrook, through Shalford and the narrow restrictive Broadford Road bridge.

    He also indicated that river barges could be used for transportation of materials. Was this the developer’s suggestion? Has the Environment Agency agreed to the use of barges on River Wey? No information was forthcoming and the planning officers made no comments.

    Having raised the issue, Cllr Nagaty voted for the motion that was then won by one vote. How strange.

  7. Bruce Penson Reply

    November 23, 2022 at 8:56 pm

    Great news. We desperately need to redevelop our neglected town centre and build more residential property to breathe some life back into it. Hopefully, this will create some momentum behind plans for the other sites which are progressing at a painfully slow pace.

    • Jack Brown Reply

      November 25, 2022 at 5:56 pm

      The town was full of housing once, it was all knocked down for shops and offices. Now we are knocking them down for housing again.

      Redevelop yes, but does it need to be with nasty, ugly, and controversial eyesores?

  8. Stuart Green Reply

    November 23, 2022 at 9:29 pm

    Finally GBC make a sensible decision. They just need to get on with it now and replace the former Debenhams, drab, 1960s building with something fit for Guildford in the 2020s.

    If they hadn’t decided it last night we would likely have had another North Street on our hands, a desolate, run-down space for 20+ years. Guildford and its residents deserve better.

    Yes it’s tall, yes it’s new, but it isn’t Woking because Guildford isn’t Woking. Just opening up the river frontage on the north side will be worth it.

  9. M Durant Reply

    November 24, 2022 at 11:15 am

    A terrible decision. They are filling the area with people without providing services and infrastructure. What is the point in living near the countryside in a highly populated area?

    Try to call the council to resolve anything. It takes them ages to answer. Trains to London are expensive and constantly delayed, and you will have to wait months to get an appointment with a specialist at the hospital. One is better off living in London or further afield, if working from home, in a more affordable area.

    Also building so many flats and houses in the area will bring house prices down, not so good if you own property in the area.

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