Fringe Box



Guildford Society Nominates Station Land As Assets of Community Value

Published on: 21 May, 2016
Updated on: 22 May, 2016
Artist's impression of the latest plan for a redeveloped railway station from Solum.

An artist’s impression of the latest plan for a redeveloped railway station from Solum.

Areas used by the public at Guildford railway station, have been nominated as “Assets of Community Value” (ACV) by The Guildford Society (GSoc).

The land is owned by Network Rail Infrastructure (NRI) and the society has submitted a formal nomination under the Localism Act 2011.

The nominated areas include taxi ranks, bus stops, cycle storage, disabled facilities, car parks and footpaths. The areas form part of the larger area for which Solum, a joint venture between Network Rail Development and Kier Group, has applied for planning permission for a controversial, large scale development.

The proposed scheme, according to GSoc is: “…a massive residential-led development that would dominate the Guildford skyline.”

Guildford SocietyOne of the benefits GSoc hopes to secure through a successful nomination would be a six-month sale moratorium, should the Office of the Rail Regulator allow NRI to dispose of the land to Solum.

A GSoc statement says: “This breathing space would allow other interested parties, including the community, to put forward an offer to purchase the sites.

“We believe that the Solum planning application, if approved, would trigger a disposal of non-operational railway land by NRI to Solum which would deprive the public of community assets, impede the development of new rail infrastructure and frustrate Guildford Borough Council’s (GBC) ambition to create a transportation hub centred on the station land.”

Solum Guildford Station

Another artist’s impression of the proposed development, viewed from the south-east.

The initial arbiter of the ACV nomination is GBC. Its decision is expected by the end of June.

The GSoc statement continues: “If the land packets are declared ACVs it would also be open to GBC, as local planning authority, to regard the ACV listing as a material consideration in determining Solum’s planning application.”

The planning application has attracted substantial adverse comment.

In GSoc’s view this is: “… not only by reason of its design and massing, but because it falls well short of achieving published targets for affordable housing. It also offers derisory amounts of new infrastructure as compared to that due under GBC’s published tariff for Community Infrastructure Levy (CIL). Approval of the CIL is part of the latest Local Plan draft.”

Local councillors have declined to comment. Some have said that they still feel constrained in what they should say about any proposed development, in case they are accused of “predetermination” when it comes to relevant planning decisions, despite written advice to the contrary.

But Andrew Procter, a spokesperson for the Guildford Greenbelt Group, said: “The Guildford Society is trying to delay the most important brownfield development in Guildford, the station.

“The direct result of such misguided action is to put more pressure on the green belt at this critical time. What the society needs to appreciate is that brownfield needs to be developed before greenfield and national planning policy actually wholeheartedly supports this approach.”

Solum has been invited to comment and any response will be covered in a separate article.

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