Fringe Box



Freedom of Information Questions Reveal More Detail of North Street Consultation

Published on: 1 Feb, 2023
Updated on: 3 Feb, 2023

By Martin Giles

Only 1.2 per cent (938 individuals) of the town’s 81,500 population were contacted by letter or email to warn them about the North Street regeneration project, a Freedom of Information Request has revealed.

And the percentage of the borough’s 145,000 overall population directly contacted by Guildford Borough Council was just 0.65 per cent.

The developer’s model of the refused North Street plan for “The Friary Quarter”.

Contacting residents outside the immediate vicinity of new developments by letter or email is not usual. But the borough council did publish all the information relating to the planning proposal for North Street on the council’s planning application online portal, a statutory notice was placed in the local printed press and site notices were erected in the vicinity of the location.

The council’s communications team also produced a social media post on GBC’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts to promote a webinar presented by the developer St Edward on July 28, 2022.

The event was for the public to view the latest North Street Regeneration designs and ask questions. And prior to the webinar three press releases were issued and displayed on the council’s website. These resulted in subsequent press coverage.

See also: 15 Storeys High But People At North Street Exhibition Say It’s ‘Good For Guildford’

In addition to the council’s consultation the developers conducted their own promotion of the scheme which included public exhibition of their model (see below) but this activity was not audited by the council which said: “Any public consultation carried out by the developer is a matter for the developer itself.”

Robin Horsley

The information was released in answer to questions posed under the Freedom of Information Act by campaigner Robin Horsley who has complained that the borough council’s consultation with the public on the North Street scheme was inadequate.

Horsley told The Dragon: “I am very disappointed to receive the poorly constructed response. It fails to answer most of the questions and simply refers to planning issues rather than the commitments made by the council to, and and they say, on their corporate website, that they promise to consult the residents of the borough.

“It’s clear that the Residents for Guildford and Villages group, despite having specifically campaigned to be elected to represent residents, have utterly failed to do so. They admit that they contacted less than one per cent of residents regarding the North Street scheme which would have devastated our historic county town if it had been forced through as they planned.”

See also: Councillor’s Son Starts Campaign for More Consultation on North Street Plan

Asked how many surveys were conducted GBC responded that as a local planning authority, the council was not required to carry out surveys but insisted in several answers that it had followed the rules and guidelines as set by central government and legislation and that there was no requirement to use statistical modelling.

Asked by Horsley what financial interests the council had within the scheme (eg land ownership, leases, investments, potential future revenues) GBC responded: “The council is the freeholder of three car parks that are included in the boundaries of the site. These are known as CP 1, CP 2 and the Old Police Station.

“They comprise about 28 per cent of the developable area. The council is also the freeholder of the Bus Station.

“The council’s financial interest is contained within the contract to sell the three car parks to the developer. The council would receive a capital payment once the developer has obtained an acceptable planning consent.

“The only potential future revenue stream is council tax generated by the new homes and businesses (at 10 per cent, with 90 per cent going to Surrey County Council).”

Cllr John Rigg (R4GV, Holy Trinity), lead councillor for Regeneration, did not respond to an invitation to comment but has agreed to be interviewed later this week.


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