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Guildford’s MP Joins Objectors to the Development of Protected University of Law Site

Published on: 7 Mar, 2024
Updated on: 10 Mar, 2024

A depiction of how the outline of the development at the University of Law site in St Catherine’s would appear, viewed looking south from Guildown.

By Martin Giles

Guildford’s MP has written a letter of objection to a planning proposal for the redevelopment of the University of Law site at Brabhoeuf Manor in St Catherine’s.

The proposal has caused disquiet in the neighbouring community because of the building heights proposed in what is a conservation area, the Surrey Hills National Landscape (previously AONB) and within the green belt.

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In her letter to the GBC Planning Department, Angela Richardson MP writes: “I carefully reviewed the planning application, visited the surrounding area, and listened to the views of residents, including Mr John Harrison. member of the Guildford Residents Association [GRA] who is rightfully concerned by the proposed hilltop development…”.

“I am predominantly objecting to this planning application on the grounds of its scale, design and incorporation within the setting.”

She concludes: “I hope that in due course, a compromise can be developed to satisfy residents’ concerns as awareness of the proposal grows.”

Angela Richardson’s letter of objection to University of Law proposal.

John Harrison, also a committee member of the St Catherine’s Village Association, said: “I walked with Angela Richardson up the footpath which runs up beside Sandy Lane so she could appreciate the elevation of the site and its location in the protected landscape, and could see how five and six-storey development would be out of scale and visible from Guildown, Warwick’s Bench, Pewley and Shalford areas.

Angela Richardson and John Harrison survey the proposed University of Law development site from an adjacent footpath.

“We studied a number of the application drawings whilst there and got a good feel for the impact, and I referred Angela to the further details and numerous objections on Guildford’s planning website.

“Guildford Residents Association, being strictly nonpolitical, is pleased that our current MP, and Lib Dem general election candidates Zoe Franklin [Guildford] and Paul Follows [Godalming & Ash], all agree that the proposal is excessive and would be damaging.

“We are amazed and frustrated that the developer, having apparently had several meetings with Guildford’s planning authority, still pursued such an obviously oversized scheme. 

“Both our Local Plan and government guidance are very clear that this site calls for a sensitive approach in this nationally important landscape.  This proposal demonstrates why we need specific local guidance on heights and character set out in a heights SPD (Supplementary Planning Document), revised Local Plan and design codes to shape development proposals.”

The Dragon asked developers Elysian Residences:

  • if they were surprised at the vehemence of the opposition this proposal is provoking especially from those living close by?
  • what did they say to accusations that they had misled neighbouring residents in the exhibition/consultation held at St Catherine’s Village Hall? and;
  • had they been encouraged in pre-application meetings with GBC planning officers (it’s been claimed there were about six meetings), that something on the height and scale sought would be acceptable, or is this something they still expected to negotiate, in the application process?

Mark Curry, head of planning and development, responded: “Elysian Residences have received and carefully reviewed feedback from local residents and members of the immediate community about our proposals for the University of Law site in Guildford, who are vacating the site in June 2024.

“We have also seen and reviewed the letter from the local MP.

“Currently we are awaiting formal feedback from the local council. Once we receive this it is our intention to review and sensitively adapt our current proposals, taking into account the local feedback and the points raised by the MP.

“We are deeply committed to creating a scheme that meets local needs and is also sensitive to the local environment and existing surroundings. Elysian Residences is an award-winning creator and operator of high-quality retirement communities.

“Our vision is to provide much-needed retirement homes along with general market housing, in an area where there is virtually no provision of new retirement housing.

“We are resolved to work closely with local people and key stakeholders to create and then run a retirement community that benefits the wider area, meeting a clear need for housing for older people.  We therefore intend to operate as long-term custodians and neighbours within the local community.”

The Elysian planning application (ref 23/P/01850) can be viewed via the GBC planning portal.

Declaration of interest: Martin Giles is a member of the St Catherine’s Village Association.

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Responses to Guildford’s MP Joins Objectors to the Development of Protected University of Law Site

  1. H Trevor Jones Reply

    March 8, 2024 at 9:47 am

    Just looking at the leading picture, evidently taken from the path alongside the top of the field on the south side of the Hogs Back, where I quite often go for a walk, I don’t feel that buildings in the spaces marked in colour would seriously destroy the lovely overall view as long as the buildings themselves are attractive to the eyes.

    I note that they don’t rise above the tops of the trees just south of Sandy Lane, therefore they do not obstruct any of the long-distance view towards Chinthurst Hill and the distant South Downs.

    Whether they would obstruct any more local views within the St.Catherine’s locality I cannot say from that picture.

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