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Councillor’s Son Starts Campaign for More Consultation on North Street Plan

Published on: 1 Jan, 2023
Updated on: 4 Jan, 2023

Robin Horsley

By Martin Giles

The son of a Guildford borough councillor is launching a campaign demanding more public consultation on the North Street redevelopment scheme.

See interview below…

Robin Horsley yesterday (December 31) launched a new website The Guildford Examiner because a week ago he was shocked to find that a major planning decision on North Street, for a scheme he had heard nothing about, was due to be decided in less than a fortnight’s time on Wednesday, January 11.

A model of the North Street “Friary Quarter” proposal.

But Horsley is not new to campaigning. Over the last 20 years he has worked on pro-democracy campaigns at local and national levels. He has tackled issues such as equipping our soldiers with the right body armour for war and prison reform, just two of many campaigns he has run.

See also: Why Has the Council Not Ensured Everyone Was Aware of This Controversial Plan?

And his communications skills, including use of social media, have been honed by his business experience. Horsley has been a “strategic marketing” professional for 30 years and his speciality is running viral campaigns. He said that one political video he produced was posted to 700 followers and then, spontaneously shared to more than two million people.

Cllr Chris Blow

Asked what his father Chris Blow (R4GV, Shalford) thought about the campaign Horsley said “I don’t know, I have not told him. I guess he’ll learn about it when he sees it in The Dragon.”

Horsley said: “My campaign to engage with the 150,000 residents of the borough and beyond starts today.

“At very short notice, I asked a highly experienced expert in planning matters to provide an urgent overview of the scheme.

“Very fortunately they were able to dedicate a day this week to looking at it and have reported a vast range of issues with the proposed development:

  • the visual impact on a historic county town;
  • police and fire safety concerns raised by those agencies;
  • major daylight issues caused by the height of multiple high-rise blocks of flats;
  • very-low quantity of residents parking proposed (far below minimum expectations);
  • lack of affordable housing in the scheme;
  • reduction in bus service capacity; and
  • the lack of provision for an alternative site to replace an estimate of over 140 convenient and short-stay town-centre public parking spaces that would be built on by the scheme.

“These are just some of the items on that list.

“As far as I am concerned, if the council were to approve this scheme on January 11th that would be an act of war. Jan 11 is our D-Day.”

Please watch Robin Horsley’s interview here…

See also: R4GV Councillor Quits Party Saying More Public Consultation on Plans is Needed

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Responses to Councillor’s Son Starts Campaign for More Consultation on North Street Plan

  1. Lottie Harding Reply

    January 1, 2023 at 6:40 pm

    If he was even vaguely interested in local issues he couldn’t have missed it on either Surrey Live or The Dragon if he looked regularly.

  2. David Smith Reply

    January 1, 2023 at 7:29 pm

    You may love or hate the scheme, but no one can criticise the developer for the amount of consultation carried out. In fact, you’d have to have been living under a rock not to know about North St.

    What’s even more surprising is that Mr Horsley is the son of a local councillor. Would it not be expected from someone showing a (very) late interest in the North Street scheme and in such a public way, that he may have discussed other high profile schemes with his father?

    The scheme is far from perfect but it’s time we got on with something here and I therefore hope that GBC keep to the January committee meeting.

  3. Robin Horsley Reply

    January 3, 2023 at 10:22 am

    I thanks Lottie Harding and David Smith for their comments. I completely appreciate that they knew about it and perhaps they keep themselves appraised of local issues – or they wouldn’t have found this article.

    But most folks lead busy lives. They work hard. Look after their children. They don’t have much free time and what they do have they decide to spend with family, friends and their wider interests – maybe sports or hobbies.

    I just don’t think one can blame people for not taking the effort to find out. I think we have to ask why the council appears not to have alerted everyone such a momentous project would affect. They are all of our representatives (not just Dragon readers’).

    I knew the site was up for development at some point but didn’t know about the application. It has deeply worrying aspects, to say the least, which I will be exploring and sharing over the coming days.

    • Craig Adams Reply

      January 10, 2023 at 11:53 pm

      I think, perhaps, Robin Horsley should stop trying channel “The Cook Report”, and consider people living next door to this current travesty of land and urban development, people such as myself.

      I’m not convinced by the “drama” he has created over this, nor do I totally believe his supposed unawareness of this scheme up to this late point.

      Either way, I’m not sure of his goals here, but, opinions are just that, and we are each entitled to them. He should not be so sure that his represents everyone else’s.

      It’s simply not the case.

  4. Susanne Verschoyle Reply

    March 27, 2023 at 8:03 am

    I knew there was going to be a North Street development but thought it to be only new shops and something pleasing to look at and fitting into the historic town of Guildford, not high-rise flats that look to be an eyesore and totally unnecessary.

    I’ve lived in this area and seen Guildford change and grow for more than 40 years but thankfully not like Woking which now looks like inner city London. It would be such a loss to see Guildford go the same way.

  5. Edward Scott Reply

    April 20, 2023 at 1:00 pm

    I do not want to see North Street redeveloped with high-rise buildings. I would like to see existing run-down buildings refurbished and
    more use made of passages like Phoenix Court which at present is simply a drab connecting passage between the High Street and North Street.

    I would like to see the lower end of North Street, opposite the Friary Centre, made more inviting as an entrance to Friary Street. This area is now very shabby. The bus station needs refurbishing.

    The old GPO telephone centre is now too large for modern equipment and could be demolished and replaced with low-rise, high-density housing similar to The Bars and Sandfield Terrace area.

    More use could be made of the rooms and spaces above shops in the town centre as flats for older people who no longer have cars and enjoy life with the buzz of life in the town centre.

    Bridge Street as a pedestrian path between the bus station and the Rail station is far too narrow and close to fast-moving traffic. Needs to be improved.

  6. Pauline Daniels Reply

    April 21, 2023 at 11:24 am

    Can we not learn from Woking that high-rise development like that in Guildford would be totally inappropriate?

    We need a plan in keeping with this old town whose cathedral can be seen from all directions: a town we are proud of.

    Planners – please don’t ruin it!

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