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Consultation on ‘350 Much Needed New Student Homes’ In Walnut Tree Close Is Underway

Published on: 18 Aug, 2021
Updated on: 23 Aug, 2021

By Hugh Coakley

Three hundred and fifty more student homes are being proposed in Walnut Tree Close.

There has already been criticism of the scale and height of developments in the road, so the proposal is likely to be controversial.

Developer, First Regional Estates (FRE), is consulting on what they have called “350 much needed new student homes” to be built on the Jewson’s builders merchant site.

Artists impression of proposed 350 new student homes and 70 affordable homes off Walnut Tree Close.

With an additional 70 homes classed as affordable in the proposal, FRE says “sustainability will be at the heart”, maximising the potential of the centrally located site.

The two-week consultation will finish on August 24 2021. This is a shorter consultation period than recent major projects in the town such as the North Street redevelopment and St Mary’s Wharf where a series of three and four-week pre-application consultations have been held.

FRE say there will be “a further opportunity to provide feedback on the plans as part of the council’s statutory consultation after an application is submitted”.

Artist impression of how the development would look from the railway line.

A spokesperson for FRE said: “There is a clear, identified need for student housing in Guildford, with the University of Surrey’s student population alone set to increase by 37% over the next five years.

“With over 10,000 students living within half a mile of Walnut Tree Close, and only 35% of the total student population living in purpose-built student accommodation, many students live in terraced or semi-detached homes, with many of these being in close proximity to the site.

350 student homes are planned to be built on the Jewson yard off Walnut Tree Close.

 “Our proposals will, therefore, help to address the demand for high-quality, purpose-built accommodation for Guildford’s growing student community. In turn, this will help to free up the family-sized homes for local residents which are currently occupied by a large student population.

“We recognise that affordable housing remains a key issue locally. We are therefore providing up to 70 affordable homes to help local residents get on the housing ladder. Our plans will of course be subject to local tenure and size preferences.”

They added they would be considering the “potential use of renewable and carbon-neutral energy sources to reduce the development’s carbon footprint”.

Given the “strong public transport links” FRE said the proposed scheme will “effectively be car-free, contributing to and making good use of the wider Sustainable Movement Corridor” and improving pedestrian and cycle links to the town centre and station.

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test 10 Responses to Consultation on ‘350 Much Needed New Student Homes’ In Walnut Tree Close Is Underway

  1. Jim Allen Reply

    August 18, 2021 at 8:27 pm

    No mention of the electrical water supply or sewage treatment works capacity.

  2. Dee Bruce Reply

    August 18, 2021 at 11:12 pm

    I do not agree that the unrelenting swamping of Walnut Tree Close with student accommodation will “free up” family homes currently rented to students. Students do not wish to stay in single accommodation for longer than necessary and will seek out a shared home with their friends in their second and/or third year. The building of these student blocks is clearly a money maker, but as they are not designed for groups, the reduced number of family homes available for actual families will continue to be a problem in Guildford.

  3. H Trevor Jones Reply

    August 19, 2021 at 9:06 am

    This all sounds good stuff, particularly the lack of need of cars due to the proximity to the university, the station, and the town centre.

  4. Bibhas Neogi Reply

    August 19, 2021 at 11:52 am

    This development would be the last nail in the coffin of a new east-west route over the railway and the river in Guildford. The one and only route is Farnham Road Bridge, built in 1845.

    Solum Regeneration has already blocked a possible route that was proposed by Guildford Vision Group, in the process of building “The Great Wall of Guildford”.

    The remaining possibility is a route through this site to Woodbridge Road via Leas Road. It should be possible to accommodate such a route and yet have a reasonable area left for housing on this site.

    The councils appear to have abandoned any hope of improving congestion and making Guildford town centre pedestrian-friendly. They have not promoted any ideas to deal with increased traffic due to new housing in and around Guildford.

    GBC has yet to publish their Town Centre Masterplan. It is still in the drafting stage. It did not have any proposal to deal with traffic issues. Without a well thought out Masterplan, Guildford will die as businesses move out to nearby towns.

    • Ben Paton Reply

      August 20, 2021 at 11:08 am

      Mr Neogi makes an extremely important point.

      If GBC does not make provision for a new east-west route it will be guilty of its usual lack of strategic thought and demonstrate that it does not have a meaningful transport plan.

  5. S Callanan Reply

    August 19, 2021 at 1:49 pm

    Who are “First Regional Estates”?

    GL Hearn represented them in a “Matters Statement” of May 2018 on the question of sites noted in the Local Plan.

    They were particularly concerned with the Jewson site. There’s a curious approach to the question of student accommodation which can be summed up as: “Not all students want to live on campus in student accommodation so let’s build student accommodation which is conveniently located just across the railway line from the campus and handy for Yorkies Bridge.”

    If you search online for First Regional Estates you should be able to find the Hearn submission which comes up on the GBC site as a PDF under REP 15239169-001. It’s an interesting read.

  6. Steve Grove Reply

    August 19, 2021 at 6:33 pm

    GBC obviously has no intention of having homes built for local people other than on the green belt. A good opportunity missed to provide much-needed homes for local people. The university and similar educational establishments should provide accommodation for their students on their own land. Furthermore, this proposal is for 350 more students so that the existing homes already let by private landlords to students will remain as such. With the university proposing to increase their student numbers by 37% over the next five years, where will these students be housed?

    The council, of course, will also miss out on council tax as, I believe, students (or their landlords) do not pay this tax. GBC should tell the people of Guildford just how much council tax is “lost” from domestic houses and flats let out to students. I seem to recall being told some years ago that this loss of tax was near to £2 million per annum.

    Editor’s comment: GBC has been invited to respond.

  7. Valerie Thompson Reply

    August 19, 2021 at 10:57 pm

    I thought that the University of Surrey was given green belt land many years ago. They have plenty of space to build their own accommodation. Why don’t they build underground car parks as well? Walnut Tree Close should be used for low-cost accommodation for Guildfordians. Many will not need cars if commuting or working locally.

  8. Fumiko Ishiguro Reply

    August 20, 2021 at 11:00 pm

    Are people aware that students and adolescents behave in a certain way, often not sleeping during normal hours?

    I complained to the council when my health suffered because five students had been crammed into a 3-bed semi-detached house near me. The landlord had converted even the garage and dining rooms to give five student rooms in the house – a lucrative business. I was unable to sleep from non-stop rap music and group chatter every day to 4am in the early hours, for over nine months.

    The serious problem of noise, litter and disturbance from students in a quiet residential area goes back more than 15 years. Elderly people disturbed by music when seriously ill have had to move. Once police were called after a stabbing.

    Students should be in designated areas, not have houses converted into student lets to disturb residents. Greedy landlords cannot wait to purchase any house if someone moves. Guildford is relatively small. I dread to think by how many thousands the student population will increase. Residents and the community should be the priority.

    I agree with Valerie Thompson. Speaking from experience, lives of the Guildford community are being disrupted from adverse consequences of student lets.

  9. M Smith Reply

    August 22, 2021 at 1:40 pm

    Is it not time the University stopped expanding altogether?

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