Fringe Box



Developer Refuses to Confirm Decision to Appeal North Street Planning Refusal

Published on: 28 Feb, 2023
Updated on: 12 May, 2023

The developer’s model of the North Street proposal refused in January.

By Martin Giles

St Edwards, the developers whose planning application for a major development in North Street was refused by a knife-edge vote at Guildford Borough Council in January, has refused to confirm a report that it intends to appeal the decision.

A spokesperson would only say that the developer consortium: “won’t be commenting at this time”.

But a well-placed source has told The Guildford Dragon that it is understood a decision to appeal has been made.

Asked to confirm the situation, GBC’s response was: “We haven’t had any formal confirmation from the applicant about whether or not they intend to appeal our decision. They have six months from the date of decision to decide.”

Cllr John Rigg

The lead councillor for Regeneration John Rigg (R4GV, Holy Trinity), who has led support for the scheme within the council added: “I certainly hope St Edwards will not walk away and will either appeal or put in a new planning application and developers sometimes do both to cover the risks of either option.

“Whilst l sincerely hope a new application is their choice which can offer Guildford a second chance to address a number of issues which concerned residents l think the council and community are in a far from ideal position if the matter is not carefully progressed.
How this will play out is still uncertain.”

Alistair Smith, chair of the Guildford Society.

Alistair Smith, chair of the Guildford Society, commented: “If St Edwards has decided to appeal the refusal by the GBC Planning Committee of the North Street Scheme it is no surprise.

“The society notes that St Edwards highlighted in a letter sent to GBC in January stated that they will make ‘circa £54 million below an expected level of profit for a development of this nature’.  Despite this, St Edwards is still, perhaps, prepared to spend a considerable sum on an appeal.

“We do query the high construction rates, used when calculating viability, equating to 49.8 per cent above the Building Cost Information Service (BCIS) median and 30.7 per cent above the BICS upper quartile.

“There is little justification for the choice of these rates in the public realm. The Guildford Society notes that Native Land on the Debenhams site has build costs, on probably a more complex site, that are lower than North Street.

“Viability calculations need further explaining as they impact directly issues raised by the Planning Committee related to height, massing and delivery of affordable housing.”

March 2 – Cllr Fiona White, the Lib Dem chair of GBC’s Planning Committee, said today: “It is difficult to comment on something which is just a rumour.

“Planning Committee members were all clear that there were a lot of benefits for the town and the wider Guildford community in the last application. I am sure that the reasons for refusal could be addressed by an amended application which could bring the development forward without the need for a long delay for an appeal process.

“I hope that the developers will consider that as an alternative solution.”

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Responses to Developer Refuses to Confirm Decision to Appeal North Street Planning Refusal

  1. Bibhas Neogi Reply

    March 1, 2023 at 1:04 pm

    The Guildford Society were reported on January 5 to have said: “Affordable homes and viability – council officers have disagreed with the developer’s assessment of the deficit the scheme will run at overall. The applicant’s claimed scheme deficit is £53.9 million, while the authority’s expert has calculated it at £9.2 million.”

    So is not correct to say that the developer will make “circa £54 million below an expected level of profit for a development of this nature.” It is not the level of profit since the whole development has an estimated value between £150 million and £200 million.

    It is possible that both the cost of building and the value of land have been over-estimated. Reviewing these again may be the way forward for the scheme to progress, provided of course other objections are resolved.

  2. Mark Stamp Reply

    March 1, 2023 at 2:20 pm

    I hope for sake of the the council finances, if nothing else, that the developer chooses to engage in more dialogue with the council and amend the plan rather than appeal.

    If they do choose this path, I hope the party leaders on the Executive can engage with their backbenchers on the Planning Committee to ensure their concerns are included in the discussions rather than the concerns only be raised at the last minute.

    • George Potter Reply

      March 2, 2023 at 9:18 am

      Despite what was said by Cllrs Rigg and Redpath on this topic, the issues raised at the Planning Committee were also, in fact, raised with the developers from the very start of, and throughout, the process.

      Please don’t believe the deliberate misinformation spread by those who are trying to deflect blame for encouraging the developers to bring forward a development which disregarded issues raised by councillors at every single briefing session on the scheme.

      George Potter is a Lib Dem borough councillor for Burpham

      • Mark Stamp Reply

        March 2, 2023 at 9:27 pm

        In that case I don’t understand why I was delivered a Lib Dem leaflet saying that the party supported the development a week before the relevant GBC Planning Committee when there wasn’t agreement amongst the Lib Dem councillors.

  3. George Potter Reply

    March 6, 2023 at 9:26 am

    We support, and continue to support, regeneration of the site.

    However, several key details of the scheme, such as the affordable housing and the bus station design, were only finalised a couple of weeks before the Planning Committee meeting and supporting the principle of regeneration did not mean a blank cheque for non-compliance with key planning policies.

    George Potter is a Lib Dem borough councillor for Burpham

  4. Tim Clarke Reply

    March 9, 2023 at 4:45 pm

    Thank you Guildford Dragon for keeping us updated. The outcome of this application / re-application is of huge significance to Guildford residents – so your investigations are appreciated. No one else is telling us anything. I’m following this article and its updates with interest.

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