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Borough Council Seeking Development Partner to Relaunch Housing Scheme

Published on: 22 Jun, 2023
Updated on: 22 Jun, 2023

An image provided by GBC showing how the Guildford Park Road car park site development might look.

By Martin Giles

A scheme to develop land off Guildford Park Road, currently used as a car park, is to be relaunched by Guildford Borough Council which has announced it is looking for an experienced development partner to take scheme forward.

A previous scheme, which included a multi-story car park and attracted some criticism from local residents, was given planning permission but it was not developed and the planning permission lapsed.

In May last year a plan drawn up by GBC showed six blocks, ranging from three to 10 storeys high, providing about 240 homes, mainly flats.

See: 240 New Homes Now Revealed for Guildford Park Road Site

A GBC spokesperson said: “The partner we select will embrace our values and deliver much needed, high quality, environmentally sustainable homes, creating a new neighbourhood that fosters a sense of community.”

Interested parties are being invited to submit an initial selection questionnaire. The council will use responses to draw up a shortlist of four bidders who will be invited to put forward their proposals.

The spokesperson continued: “The design work already carried out has set the parameters for a sustainable mixed-tenure housing scheme that will include affordable housing for our local community. We will work with our chosen delivery partner to refine these plans and secure planning permission for the development.

“This project offers an excellent opportunity for a partner to showcase their expertise and contribute to enhancing our community.”

Cllr Julia McShane

Leader of the council and lead councillor for Housing, Julia McShane (Lib Dem, Westborough) said: “I’m passionate about making Guildford an inclusive place to live – a town where residents can find homes to meet their needs, at a price they can afford.

“This development will create a new neighbourhood that includes affordable homes.”

Tom Hunt (Lib Dem, St Nicolas) deputy leader and lead councillor for Regeneration, added:

Cllr Tom Hunt

“It’s great that the procurement process for this major building project is now underway.

“I encourage potential partners to get involved in the procurement process. We’re looking for suitably qualified organisations who share our vision.”

A detailed brief and accompanying documents are now available on GBC’s SE Shared Services eSourcing Portal. The submission deadline for selection questionnaires is 20 July 2023.

Other group leaders at GBC was invited to give their opinions of the news and whether any height limit should be imposed.

Cllr Philip Brooker

Opposition leader Philip Brooker,  responding to the announcement, said: “The Conservative Group welcomes the resurrection of a housing scheme for this town centre site which was initially proposed under the previous Conservative administration.

The Conservative scheme was for 160 units with 40 per cent affordable whilst retaining the parking provision on site. It had received planning permission and work was already underway when the Lib Dems took power in 2019 [as a minority council before forming a coalition with R4GV], who then promptly cancelled it despite significant costs already having been incurred; costs borne by the taxpayer.

See: Proposal to Develop Guildford Park Road Car Park Site Approved

“Had this scheme not been cancelled, then the site would by now have been regenerated, with residents benefitting from the new affordable housing provision.”

Cllr Joss Bigmore

The leader of the Residents for Guildford and Villages group, Joss Bigmore (Merrow), said: “I think it is very sensible for the new administration to embrace R4GV recommendations to find an experienced development partner.

“It’s clear given the scale of challenges that GBC is facing, we do not have sufficient capacity or should not have the risk appetite to take this project on alone.

“Regarding a height limit, the Lib Dem administration can set what it likes here as the site is wholly owned by the council, so a height limit could be a prescriptive condition of any development partnership.

“However those wanting six-storeys may be disappointed remembering that the Lib Dems were totally comfortable with a nine-storey office development at 1 Onslow Street without even referring it to the Planning Committee. With this development hopefully providing significant affordable homes the sky maybe the limit for them.”

Cllr James Walsh

Speaking as leader of the three councillor Labour group, James Walsh (Bellfields & Slyfield) said: “Anything that indicates movement at the Guildford Park Road site – apart from the cars using it as a car park – has to be positive news.

“We will remain cautious until the first brick is laid, but would like to see this brownfield development become a flagship for high-quality, attractive mixed-tenure homes in the town.

“Forget “affordable” – it means nothing in the South East; we want to see a high proportion of council housing built to help some of the thousands of people on our housing list.”

He added: “If the Liberal Democrat-run council dares to be radical and push for more than 40 per cent social housing at Guildford Park, then they will receive our full and wholehearted support.

“There has never been such a window for progressive policies in Guildford as there is now, so let’s go big and build the homes people need and can afford.”

See: Council Mounts Exhibition of Guildford Park Road Car Park Development Plan

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Responses to Borough Council Seeking Development Partner to Relaunch Housing Scheme

  1. Jan Messinger Reply

    June 22, 2023 at 7:47 pm

    Reading this article tells me party politics is playing too big a part in decisions for the well being of Guildford. For goodness sake all sides should take the politics away and work for the development of a better place to livein, whether in the town or the surrounding villages.

    • Daniel Andrew Reply

      June 23, 2023 at 4:46 pm

      Well said, Jan.

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