Fringe Box



Claire’s Column – The Cost of Guildford’s Growth

Published on: 15 Jul, 2014
Updated on: 15 Jul, 2014

In this regular column – a must-read for all those interested in Guildford business – Claire Dee focuses on growth in the borough

Claire Dee

Claire Dee 

This month there’s good news and there’s bad news.

The good news: Guildford Borough Council and Enterprise M3 Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) have between them secured government funding to support sustainable economic growth for the area worth more than £15 million.

The funding forms part of the town’s much-debated Draft Local Plan (therein lies the rub, see the bad news) which according to the council “…is part of our strategy to ensure the economic vitality of the borough…”

Fair point. So here’s the deal:

  • Investment of £5 million in the University of Surrey’s 5G Mobile Technologies Arrow Project.
  • Investment of £2.7 million in in the Guildford Gyratory project.
  • A provisional allocation of £3.7 million for sustainable transport improvements.
  • A provisional allocation of £3.7 million for improved access to retail and employment sites.
  • An increase to the Housing Revenue Account Borrowing Limit by £360,ooo to support the development of 12 new affordable homes for rent.
  • A commitment from the Highways Agency to work with the LEP to understand the transport challenges locally and to develop evidence based long-term plans to bring about much needed local economic growth and development.

All sounds encouraging, but at what cost?

The bad news: As the editor of The Guildford Dragon NEWS, Martin Giles, so eloquently put it in his recent well worth a read opinion piece: “Today in Guildford it seems we can have any Local Plan, so long as it includes a housing target approved by a national planning inspector.”

Call me cynical (because, on this, I am becoming ever more so), is this a case of giveth and taketh away…? If Guildford toes the line nationally on housing growth, will it then be rewarded locally on economic growth?

As you will have gathered, I am playing devil’s advocate here as I don’t have the answers, or the solutions, but perhaps you do, and in the best interests of Guildford town please do air them and make yourself heard.

The 12-week Draft Local Plan consultation runs until September 22. Find out more and have your say:

Claire Dee runs her own communications consultancy near Guildford and is an active member of the local business community including sitting on the Surrey Chambers of Commerce Council. To learn more visit

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Responses to Claire’s Column – The Cost of Guildford’s Growth

  1. Jim Allen Reply

    July 16, 2014 at 9:49 am

    What worries me is that the ostriches of the green belt will try and prevent the simplest solutions to solve the infrastructure problems. It is no good just ‘looking” at the problems we need to find cures and implement them.

    A case in point:
    If Gosden Hill goes to 2000 houses, then some 5000 plus additonal vehicles will be trying to enter Burpham daily. It would be logical to try and remove a third of the through traffic which is going to Merrow by installing a link road, proposed in 1984, to the A25.

    This would benefit those in Merrow by simply removing their journey through Burpham. But some will shout: “We don’t want to loose a road width of land between the railway and the A25 because it goes through Greenbelt and ANOB and National Trust land.”

    We need to rationalise our approach so that the infrastructure design accepts the future reality of what is happening and the loss of small parts of the greenbelt to infrastructure is better than ending up with pollution hotspots in residential areas caused by stationary traffic.

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