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Cathedral Learns Lessons From 2017 Rejection But Objectors Not Convinced

Published on: 5 Dec, 2019
Updated on: 6 Dec, 2019

Guildford Cathedral from the south showing the site for the approximately 100 new homes proposed.

By Hugh Coakley

Guildford Cathedral’s new developer partner, Vivid Homes, held a ‘community planning day’ for local people to give their thoughts on new proposals for approximately 100 homes to the south of Stag Hill.

Attendance at the presentation at Guildford United Reformed Church, Portsmouth Road,  on Saturday, November 30 was “phenomenal” said a representative of the cathedral.

But this early engagement did not convince objectors to the scheme.

Learning lessons from the failed application for 134 homes in 2017, the developer said it wanted to hear the views of the community before starting its design.

About 70 people attended the morning sessions of the community planning day for approximately 100 new homes proposed for Stag Hill.

A group of local residents, who have called themselves Friends of Stag Hill (FOSH), said the “presentation offered a utopian vision of what the site could offer”. Their concern was that it would not be “feasible, practical or realistic for a scheme of such density”.

The location of the site for the 100 new homes proposed by the cathedral on the south side of Stag Hill. The proposed site is highlighted in red. Click on the image to enlarge in a new window.

Tim Asson, Guildford cathedral’s project manager for the scheme, said that a key lesson from the failed planning application in 2017 was that they had to listen to the community. The previous developer, Linden Homes, had presented a scheme to the public and then asked for comments.

The rejection of the previous housing application became national news after the Bishop of Guildford, Rt Rev Andrew Watson, said the cathedral faced the probability of financial failure.

The Dean of Guildford Cathedral, The Very Revd Dianna Gwilliams, in an interview with The Guildford Dragon NEWS in April 2019, rowed back from this link between the viability of the carthedral and the housing, saying that it had been unfortunate to say that the cathedral would close. “It was a misunderstanding.” she said.

Timeline for the planning application to be submitted for the approximately 100 new homes on Stag Hill.

Tim Asson said that the key changes for the new application were that the site was now in the Local Plan, with a less dense allocation of approximately 100 homes, and that they were working with a registered social landlord, Vivid Homes.

Tim said that Vivid was: “Much more closely aligned with the cathedral’s ambition to provide housing and affordable housing for Guildford.”

He said that the previous application had 27% of affordable homes. Now there will be “35% of affordable homes plus 14 homes for key cathedral workers”.

“The attendance to the community planning day has been phenomenal this morning. We’ve had 70 people come to the exhibition and the workshops so far and we are only half way through the day.

“We will be collecting the feedback from today and will report back to the public in January 2020.”

The access and transport situation around the cathedral was thought by some to be a problem.

Some people at the event remained critical of the proposals. One attendee said: “How will the traffic cope?” Another commented: “The problem is that you have to pile everything to make it work because of the slope, making it uneconomic.”

A spokesperson for Spires Management, that looks after the Scholar’s Walk estate management, said: “We believe this development, currently proposing utilisation of the existing minor arterial roads network for all access and egress to this large housing development, will severely impact safety and congestion coping with the estimated 150 to 180 additional vehicles which the site will generate.”

A resident of Scholar’s Walk, emailed The Dragon to say: “The efforts to organise this event were appreciated. Whilst we sincerely trust that all parties will listen to the importance of these requests in order that an outstanding development is produced that is worthy of the sacrifice of the current open space.”

FOSH said in a statement to The Dragon: “There are still many factors that should go against this new application, such as increase traffic, poor access, overburdening schools and doctors surgeries.

“In summary, this application remains the wrong location, with the wrong reason and at the wrong time. FOSH will continue to push to reject this unnecessary application.”

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test One Response to Cathedral Learns Lessons From 2017 Rejection But Objectors Not Convinced

  1. Sue Warner Reply

    December 6, 2019 at 7:09 pm

    Do these developers ever look beyond the piece of land? All the roads in the area are really small with lots of parked vehicles already. A hundred new homes means two hundred new cars; a realistic estimate in this day and age.

    How are the roads going to cope? Just look at the queues in The Chase at the moment with one small slip road coned off onto A3, northbound. It’s crazy to think the infrastructure can cope especially with the overbuilding on the Park & Ride car park in Guildford Park Road.

    To be perfectly honest, if I could afford to move away, I would leave Guildford as planning here is atrocious.

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