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Letter: Approving the North Street Plan Will Declare Open Season for High-rise in Guildford

Published on: 11 Jan, 2023
Updated on: 11 Jan, 2023

From: Amanda Mullarkey

chair of Guildford Residents Association

Guildford Residents Association, which is strictly non-political, welcomes the decision by the Secretary of State to put a stop order on this application. It serves as an important reminder of the wider significance of what is being proposed for North Street.

If the scheme went ahead in its current form, Guildford would become a high-rise town centre like Woking. The AONB setting and distinctive character of Guildford would be lost forever.

Cambridge and Oxford have vibrant economic strategies without allowing high rise. Tower blocks would be utterly inappropriate for Guildford – bad for the character and bad for the economy too.

We urge the council to refuse this application and to encourage St Edwards to revise its plans in order to provide a less crammed, less tall scheme with a functional bus station. This would be perfectly viable.

There would be no turning back if this crammed scheme for nine tower blocks, including a 14-storey tower, went ahead. Open season for high-rise in Guildford would have been declared.

We would be delighted to support the council and St Edwards in seeking to revise the scheme.

GRA’s concerns are:

  1. impact of height on character, street scene and views: nine tower blocks including one of 14 storeys.  Guildford would become a crammed high-rise town centre;
  2. overdevelopment with a “could-be-anywhere” design.  The “alleys” of Guildford it claims to mimic are characterised by low, tumbling, tiled roofs not lined by skyscrapers;
  3. transport including: an inadequate bus station and bus routes, Leapale Road turned into a dysfunctional tunnel, yet more traffic displaced onto York Road which already gridlocks, and poor access for residents.

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