Fringe Box



Cathedral Plans Published – Objectors Say It’s ‘All About Money and Greed’

Published on: 11 Jan, 2022
Updated on: 12 Jan, 2022

Plan of the proposed 124 dwelling development south and east of Guildford Cathedral. (Click on image to enlarge.)

By Hugh Coakley

Objectors have reacted furiously to a planning application for 124 new homes on land around Guildford Cathedral.

They claim the current proposed plans, “hardly differ from the previous set which failed to gain planning permission in 2017” and it is, “all about money and greed”.

But in the planning statement, a key reason for the development is to ensure funds are available for the long-term repair and maintenance of the Grade II* listed cathedral. This: “should be considered a significant public benefit and should weigh heavily in the proposals favour in the consideration of the ‘planning balance’.”

Architects drawing of street elevation of the south east section of the development viewed from the south.

Developer Vivid, in partnership with Guildford Cathedral, has submitted the planning proposal for the 124 new homes, 40% of which will be affordable and include 13 houses for Guildford Cathedral key staff.

The homes, ranging from one-bedroom apartments to four-bedroom houses, are to be built on land to be sold to the developer by the cathedral. The site is to the south and east of the cathedral.

Guildford Cathedral viewed from the south.

The homes will be heated using gas boilers even though installation of gas boilers will be banned for new homes from 2025 to reduce carbon emissions, said to amount to 14% of the UK’s total.

The developer, Vivid, says the alternative considered, air-source heat pumps, would “increase the utility costs to the homeowners”.

But some of the new homes will have environmentally sustainable “green roofs”. There will also be 327 photovoltaic panels across the development and it “will exceed Guildford Borough Council’s requirement to reduce carbon emissions”.

Comparison by Vivid of the rejected planning application in 2017 and the current proposal.

According to Vivid, the project will “help address the shortage of affordable homes in Guildford” and be a “new sustainable and attractive neighbourhood with improved connections to the town centre”.

Illustrative view of the new houses to the south of Guildford Cathedral near Alresford Road.

Controversial aspects of the plans include the number of homes exceeding the stated figure in the Local Plan and the routing of traffic through the local road network rather than onto the main cathedral access road.

The GBC Local Plan allows for “approx” 100 homes on the site but the developer has said that was “an approximate guide and does not take into account the size or type of homes that would be suitable” for the site. The failed application in 2017 had requested permission for 134 new homes.

See: Bishop Throws Doubt On Cathedral’s Future Following Planning Rejection and Cathedral Learns Lessons From 2017 Rejection But Objectors Not Convinced

GBC ward councillors Will Salmon, Jon Askew and David Goodwin (all Lib Dem, Onslow), commenting on the proposals following exhibition of the plans in September 2021, had concerns about access to the new houses. They said: “In our view, the main cathedral access route should be used since the infrastructure, including the large roundabout, is already in place.”

The current proposal does not link into the cathedral road but gives access for the new houses via Ridgemount and Alresford Road.

The objectors feel the “main focus on the carbon stats seems like a deflection”.  They said the proposals do not address local residents’ main concerns of “traffic, [building] height and density”.

They added that they were “becoming more saddened with the Cathedral’s use of the word community”, saying it was laughable that the “houses allocated to the Cathedral staff are in their own enclave with their own private access. Not really integrating with the community?”

The developers say that, in addition to comments from GBC, they received feedback from Historic England, Design South East, and the Cathedrals Fabric Commission England (CFCE), in addition to the views of the local community, local councillors and other stakeholders including Guildford Society, Guildford Vision Group and Residents’ Association. They are continuing to consult with the Guildford Cathedral Fabric Advisory Committee(FAC).

The Dragon has contacted the GBC ward councillors for comment on the published proposals.

See also; Feature – What Makes The Cathedral Tick?

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Responses to Cathedral Plans Published – Objectors Say It’s ‘All About Money and Greed’

  1. M Durant Reply

    January 11, 2022 at 5:09 pm

    If the cathedral is desperate for money maybe they should turn the cathedral itself into flats. It is an unsightly building.

    The area around the cathedral should stay green, we need green areas in and around Guildford. Guildford has become too busy and polluted. What’s the point of living in Guildford if the pollution levels and the traffic are the same as a London suburb? We might as well live in London.

    Also, they have not built more hospitals or added more GPs surgeries in Guildford but they keep on adding more people, luxury, unaffordable flats and urbanising the countryside.

  2. Robert Burch Reply

    January 11, 2022 at 6:06 pm

    Can some more details on why objectors say this is about greed be provided? For sure, it is to do with money, I would rather the housing were owned by Guildford Borough Council to directly help with those on the housing register – but after this, the diocese (ultimately a charity) is a good second place.

    The only greed involved is that of the developer, who will return profit to their shareholders, as shown by their weak justification for not installing heat pumps (better read as: “it will cost us more and won’t add to the sale price of the houses. Climate change is not our problem”).

    Given the commitment made by the Church of England to be Net Zero by 2030, I hope they will push Vivid to change this short-sighted, profit-driven decision. I also hope the diocese will hold Vivid to their commitment of 40 per cent affordable homes, rather than allow them to hide behind confidential viability statements that are used to remain unaccountable for promises.

  3. Sue Warner Reply

    January 11, 2022 at 9:01 pm

    I agree with the previous comment, there have been massive building projects in Woodbridge Meadows and now they want to build in the same area with no extra amenities such as doctors, schools etc.

    How is the area going to cope with all the extra traffic – the roads up around the cathedral are all small and weren’t built to take lots of traffic.

  4. Stuart Barnes Reply

    January 12, 2022 at 9:38 am

    Surely this lunatic idea will be rejected?

  5. Richard Vary Reply

    January 12, 2022 at 1:14 pm

    It would be such a shame to put flats on the hill in front of the cathedral. The view of the cathedral from the town has been carefully preserved, with its green moat around it.

    High rise flats are fine in the town centre (and we have long-term derelict sites around North Road and on Portsmouth Road on which we could build plenty of homes) but we shouldn’t be building blocks of flats on the hillside in front of the cathedral.

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