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Excitement as Zero Climate Hub Officially Launches In Guildford

Published on: 21 Nov, 2021
Updated on: 21 Nov, 2021

By Hugh Coakley

Zero Carbon Guildford opened its doors officially yesterday (November 20). An enthusiastic crowd of about 200 attended the launch in Friary Street, at the bottom of North Street.

The Zero Carbon Guildford shop in Friary Street opened on Saturday, November 20 2021.

Aimed at being a place to plan for community-led action on the impacts of climate change, Zero’s chair, Ben McCallan said: “Opening Zero is a fantastic achievement but it is not the objective. It’s a first step in bringing people together in a genuinely collaborative effort to have local solutions to the global crisis.”

Jan Harwood, until his recent move to the Conservatives the lead councillor for Climate Change at GBC and one of the many local councillors who attended the launch, said: “Zero is brilliant. As is so often the case, the people are ahead of the politicians on this issue.”

Four-year-old Vaida McCallan cut the ribbon for the official opening of Zero Carbon Guildford.

Passers-by stopped to see what was happening in the new shop, empty since New Look left in November 2018, and their comments were generally positive.

Leah and Amelie, aged 14, attended the Zero launch. “It has a modern feel, for the younger generation” said Leah.

Amelie and Leah, both 14 years old, had popped in as they were passing. Leah said: “It’s got a modern feel. It will appeal to everyone but especially the younger generation.”

Resident, Maisy Holcombe, and visitor to the town, Edward Sutton, said: “It’s good to use the shop for climate crisis information.”

Another said she thought the Zero shop was a great start for Guildford, “At least they are doing something” she said.

Those attending the launch were universally enthusiastic, “This place is brilliant and what a great location” said David Hepper from Farnham.

The huge space, designed for retail, had been scrubbed, painted and transformed by the Zero volunteers.

An estimated crowd of about 200 attended the opening of Zero Carbon Guildford.

There is a cafe with tea and cakes, a stage with a large screen, tables and chairs and sofas for meeting and chatting. They are setting up a zero waste shop, a seed bank to share veg and flower seeds.

Other ventures there today were a “try before you buy” scheme for electric cargo bikes, Surrey Hills baby clothes library to reduce the amount of textile waste, University of Surrey’s Global Centre for Clean Air Research, Take The Jump which encourages people to make shifts in their lifestyles and a Terracycle scheme for recycling those difficult items,

It is a real transformation of a traditional retail area into vibrant events and community space.

Climate activist and Zero chair, Ben McCallen, spoke at the Zero opening of a “genuinely collaborative effort to do what we can”.

Adrian Thompson, vice-chair of  Guildford Environmental Forum and treasurer for Zero, said they had raised around £35,000 from crowdfunding and donations. George Abbot School pupils had raised over £1,000. He said: “What is happening here is exciting and it is supported by all ages and across our community.”

Zero is on a short term lease, with the landlord getting business rate relief by letting the premises be used by a charity. There is a risk they may be asked to move on if the landlord finds a tenant.

“That would be tough,” said Ben, “after all the work that we have put in here. But the important thing now is we are making a commitment to our community, our wildlife and our planet”.

The Zero-waste vegan Pick ‘n Mix is up and running.

See also:Town Centre Shop Live Streams United Nation Climate Change Conference COP26

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Responses to Excitement as Zero Climate Hub Officially Launches In Guildford

  1. Julia Shaw Reply

    November 21, 2021 at 2:32 pm

    I’m so proud of Guildford that we have a shop and community space like this. Well done Zero.

  2. Pen Rossell Reply

    November 22, 2021 at 5:31 pm

    Well done Guildford! Let’s hope other towns take your lead.

  3. Andrew Calladine Reply

    November 23, 2021 at 12:48 pm

    Great to see events like this, but when will the infrastructure be built to enable more people to walk and cycle and leave their car (EV or otherwise) at home?

  4. Keith Parkins Reply

    November 24, 2021 at 4:17 pm

    An excellent example of “ReSpace”, bringing derelict buildings back into use.

    We recycle materials, why do we not recycle people and buildings?

    I visited Tuesday, around lunchtime. Apart from a handful of volunteers, I was the only one there. But I do not like crowds and it afforded the opportunity to chat with the volunteers and bounce a few ideas around.

  5. Keith Parkins Reply

    November 24, 2021 at 8:44 pm

    Following a visit to Zero, I walked up the High Street.

    I was shocked by the number of empty retail units from the corner of Quarry Street to Jeffries Passage. With the exception of Aldershot, no other town is this bad. If nothing else highlights the failure of Experience Guildford.

    But what we also have is potential for “ReSpace”. How many of these empty shops can be brought back into use as community space?

    An empty unit with A3 planning could be brought back into use as a social enterprise kitchen, using what would otherwise be food waste from supermarkets and restaurants.

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