Fringe Box



Focus Is On Brownfield Sites Says Council In Wake Of New Assessments and Vision Plans

Published on: 1 Jul, 2014
Updated on: 1 Jul, 2014

Guildford Borough Council says it “aims to provide as many homes as is appropriately possible on previously developed land in the town centre, urban areas and villages”, as it published today (July 1) its new and updated Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment (SHLAA).

The SHLAA identifies potential sites for new homes, the possible number and the potential time frame for development. It is published at the same time as the consultation of the council’s Draft Local Plan begins.

The demolition last year of office buildings In Walnut Tree Close. The Guildford Vision Group is advocating buildings homes in this part of Guildford.

The demolition last year of office buildings in Walnut Tree Close. The Guildford Vision Group is advocating building homes in this part of Guildford.

In the council’s announcement, Cllr Monika Juneja, the lead councillor for planning, said: “We want to maximise the use of brownfield land in the borough – this updated document allows us to do this. However, it is concerning that many brownfield sites are not deliverable in the much needed first five years of the plan. We continue to focus on the use of previously developed land first – we know our town centre, urban areas and villages are the most sustainable locations for future development. The updated SHLAA includes the latest information on appropriate sites for potential residential development.

“The report highlights positive news for our borough. Affordable homes are being built, we granted planning permission for much-needed permanent traveller pitches and the majority of new homes built this year are on brownfield land. This is an important document that we need to continuously monitor and develop to make sure we are taking into account the key points within this document.”

Cllr Juneja also reminds residents to “look at the latest information that informs the new Local Plan and give your views on the future of your borough. Make sure you are part of the plan”.

You can view the SHLAA at and Monitoring report at

The council is also asking residents for their views on plans for Guildford town centre. This outline vision covers nine major themes along with short, medium and long-term approaches to support them. 

On this topic, the leader of the council, Cllr Stephen Mansbridge, said in a statement: “This is also the first step on the journey to creating a Supplementary Planning Document (SPD) to plan our town for decades to come. It is important to remember that this SPD can only be prepared together with the Local Plan. This is a once in a generation opportunity and I encourage everyone to get involved and give us their views.”

You can view the Draft Guildford Town Centre Vision on the council’s website and give your views through its consultation portal at

The Guildford Vision Group (GVG) pressure group is particularly pleased that there is now masterplan vision for the town centre. In its latest newsletter it congratulates the council, saying: “This is the start of the masterplanning process that GVG has been arguing for.”

It has more details on its own website.

In rallying words, GVG adds: “The next steps have to be bold if the vision is to find its way confidently into a delivered plan. Councillors and officers will need all our support and encouragement to establish the right planning environment if the vision is to be refined and delivered successfully. This is certainly not the time for a wobble! We must support them as they have to confront and manage ad hoc planning applications that might frustrate the Vision becoming reality. The vision has to chime with the Local Plan and vice versa. It’s important the Local Plan makes land reservations where appropriate so the vision can move more easily to the considerable project that will deliver a winning town.”

Suggesting that ‘brownfield is best’, of Walnut Tree Close in Guildford, it states: “It cries out to be a well-planned, sustainable, residential area providing homes for young professionals in a riverside setting. (The flooding risk can be managed through good design). This brownfield site would relieve pressure on the green belt and provide extra stimulus to the town’s evening and night time economies. With the station in walking distance, car usage should be much reduced.”

Members of GVG is also asking residents to tell them what they think about the issues at stake.

Local protest groups, including the Guildford Greenbelt Group (GGG), will also be scrutinising the SHLAA, the Draft Local Plan and the Draft Guildford Town Centre Vision documents.

The GVG is also reported as forming a new political party to stand at next year’s borough council elections.

Have your say here too. Please leave a reply in the box below.


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Responses to Focus Is On Brownfield Sites Says Council In Wake Of New Assessments and Vision Plans

  1. Jules Cranwell Reply

    July 2, 2014 at 4:09 pm

    This is all very well, but this push on the brownfield sites is not reflected in the published daft LP, SHLAA, or update to the SHLAA, where there is risibly little housing allocated to brownfield.

    Also, the number of homes now proposed for all sites has risen to 14,055, up from 13,000 from the previous ‘consultation’. This equates to 827 p.a., and not the 652 promoted by GBC. They also propose even greater land grabs, by expanding the settlement boundaries in the villages.

    Even though GBC most probably plan to ignore again the responses, please do respond, by letter, or by answering the questionnaire. The inspector will take notice of the consultation responses.

  2. Roland McKinney Reply

    July 4, 2014 at 1:00 pm

    So Cllr Juneja says the council cannot deliver housing on brownfield sites that they own, within the next five years? In that case, they should step aside and make way for someone who can.

    It’s simply nonsense to suggest that this cannot be done, especially coming from the land owner. How about the council “gifting” one of these sites to a self-build co-operative, with outline residential planning permission. Then stand back and watch it be transformed into genuine affordable housing for members of the self build group, easily within five years.

  3. Bibhas Neogi Reply

    July 5, 2014 at 12:19 pm

    What a shame. Is this the best use for this beautiful area beside the river? Maybe Guildford Borough Council should have tried harder to persuade the builder to build houses and particularly affordable ones instead of more office buildings that are likely to remain unoccupied for a long time under the current economic situation.

    Could GBC have bought this land under a compulsory purchase order? Maybe those readers who are more knowledgeable about planning procedures could throw some light into this aspect?”

    Again in Guildford Vision Group’s website under ‘Suggested solutions – Your vision’ perhaps with a slightly inadequate title ‘A possible traffic solution’ is posted under ‘Older Posts’ relegated at the very bottom

    It dates to May 2012, when I wrote, in paragraph 7:

    “Potential areas for housing

    “There are areas on both banks of river Wey on the stretch alongside Walnut Tree Close taken up by light industrial buildings, DIY stores and sorting office etc. I have no idea of ownership of these areas but if GBC is inclined to provide affordable housing or even a mixture of affordable and other types of housing, these areas could be transformed into pleasant living quarters.”

    The above document is a bit out of date as I have modified and added other suggestions to my website. The website can be found by searching for ‘revamp guildford gyratory’. However, it includes ideas for the relocation of the bus station, modified bus routes for better connections with key locations, a longer term solution for north south traffic avoiding town centre via a tunnel and possible improvements to the A3 as well.

    North Street redevelopment could not possibly go ahead without resolving the question of the bus station and bus routes. I followed a holistic approach to the solution keeping in mind the ease for the bus users and the routes redesigned not to add to the congestion in the gyratory whilst achieving the rail-bus connections at the same time. Please do visit this website. It may take a little while getting around it but the sketches in Links sections have further explanatory notes.

  4. Michael Bruton Reply

    July 5, 2014 at 12:33 pm

    Guildford Borough Council (GBC) has put brownfield land in the ‘too difficult’ file – because it does not have the will to develop brownfield/previously used land first. Developers prefer green fields – more profitable and no remediation costs. And GBC is a willing supporter of all this.

    Walnut Tree Close is a marvellous opportunity to give Guildford an attractive waterside living area such as developed on brownfield land in Norwich and Exeter – a mix of restaurants, walking areas and all age group town houses. And well flood protected.

    I think that Conservative councillors who support the desecration of the green belt may not need to ‘stand aside’. Electors may well give them plenty of free time when the Borough election results are announced next May.

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