Fringe Box



Claire’s Column – Guildford: A Victim Of Its Own Success?

Published on: 25 Feb, 2014
Updated on: 25 Mar, 2014

In this regular column – a must-read for all those interested in Guildford business – Claire Dee reveals a current dichotomy for our county town.

Claire Dee

Claire Dee

As reported on The Guildford Dragon NEWS earlier this month, Guildford Tourist Information Centre celebrated winning Gold for Destination of the Year from the Tourist Network.  Meaning Guildford and the surrounding area has been recognised as the must-visit attraction for many, including some of the area’s stunning countryside: from St Martha’s Hill and Newlands Corner, to Loseley Park and the Surrey Hills.

Why, then, are some of the greenspace jewels in the region’s crown being considered for potential housing development sites – most notably, the Hog’s Back?

From a business perspective, these are real money-spinners with Surrey’s tourism industry turning over around £2 billion a year and supporting 35,000 jobs. Remove them; remove the revenue.

Personally, my own view is firmly in this camp, which is why I moved from London to Surrey eight years ago and actively support Surrey Wildlife Trust and other local nature conservation initiatives.

The rolling green landscape and back-to-nature ethos was as much of a pull as the thriving economy and fabulous transport links.  If I was looking for wall-to-wall housing and a city feel, I – and many others I know – would have stayed in London.

However, from the broader business perspective, there are also local employers embracing more affordable housing to enable them to further recruit and grow their workforces. All too often, I am told by several chief executives and managing directors in the town, there is a real struggle to attract the right people because there is nowhere for them to live. For these captains of industry, more mainstream housing equals more revenue.

Hobson’s choice it would seem. Has Guildford become a victim of its own success? Should it favour concrete over countryside, or is there room for both?  You decide.

Why not leave a reply in the box below.

To learn more about Guildford’s local plans visit

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 – Guildford: A Victim Of Its Own Success?

  1. Bernard Parke Reply

    February 25, 2014 at 9:36 pm

    “Affordable housing” is becoming more unaffordable as such properties are rapidly being bought up by predatory speculators many of whom live far from our borough, and are offering to buy above the vendor’s asking price.
    Very few of our children or grand children can afford now to live in their home town.

  2. Keith Reeves Reply

    February 27, 2014 at 1:44 pm

    ‘Affordable housing’ falls into three categories: social rented, affordable rented and intermediate housing, e.g. shared equity. Where’s the evidence that these properties can be bought by speculators? I suspect Mr Parke’s issue, not unreasonably, is with the general affordability of housing in the area.

  3. Bernard Parke Reply

    February 27, 2014 at 3:14 pm

    I can quote various sources for this situation concerning affordable housing stock being bought up by speculators. Indeed some are from overseas.

    One in particular comes to mind from west London who has circulated a request to householders stating that they vendors from China who are mostly cash buyers wanting to purchase houses in this area immediately.

  4. Susan Parker Reply

    February 27, 2014 at 6:02 pm

    As with London, a significant proportion of all new housing built here will be bought by speculators or by overseas investors, as Mr Parke notes.

    As a result, the apparently laudable aim to build housing to make it more “generally affordable” will be unsuccessful, and probably have little impact on market prices or the availability of homes for local workers.

    It would have been nice if this might have an impact on the plans to increase the number of households in the borough by 30%, but the council voted last night to proceed with the current draft SHMA and not – as we requested – to revise it.

    Affordable housing does include the three categories listed by Keith Reeves but it can also include – depending on which definition you choose to use – market housing which is affordable.

    This definition was excluded by GBC in the recent draft SHMA, probably because this sector has grown substantially over recent years (according to the draft SHMA itself) and so doesn’t provide any justification for building on greenbelt in large new developments.

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