Fringe Box



Letter: Cathedral Housing Developer Is ‘Massaging The Figures’

Published on: 15 Jan, 2022
Updated on: 15 Jan, 2022

From Naomi Vary

Guildford resident and neighbour of Guildford Cathedral

Commenting on Cathedral Housing Plans Published But Objectors Say “It’s All About Money And Greed”

How can Vivid say that 124 properties are “approximately” 100 whilst also claiming that 124 is a significant reduction from the rejected Linden proposals for 134?

How can a 24 per cent increase be ignored but a 7 per cent decrease be advertised as a major improvement?  124 is far closer to 134 than it is to 100.

Vivid claims to have 40 per cent affordable homes.  The plan includes 44 affordable homes.  44 is not 40 per cent of 124 – it is 35 per cent.  Vivid obtain their 40 per cent by removing the cathedral properties from the equation – yet the slide provided in the planning application and shown in The Dragon does not take the same approach when looking at the Linden figures for comparison purposes. Vivid’s calculation is not comparing like with like.

Vivid claims a much-reduced density against the Linden plan.  Vivid bases this on a development site of 5.5 hectares against Linden’s site of 3.54 hectares. It is clear from the plans for each development that the area proposed for construction is the same.

Vivid gets to its 5.5 hectares by adding additional land around the cathedral on which neither Linden nor Vivid proposed to build.  On a proper comparison, both developments have similar average densities.  But looking at averages alone is misleading.  In the Vivid plan, the clergy enclave has a density of around 14 properties per hectare, but the crowded eastern slopes bear approximately 80 properties per hectare.  On density, the Vivid plan is far worse than the Linden plan.

The developer’s suggestion that the excessive number of high properties arises from a consideration of what is suitable to the site is almost as bizarre as its description of the blocks of flats as “attractive”.  The planning documents indicate that the reason for this density of development is financial, not topographical.  There is no engineering reason why fewer, lower rise buildings could not be constructed on this site.

No support has been provided for the assertion that the deal will save the cathedral.  Given that the “public benefit” claimed by the proposals consists of money going to the cathedral, the public should be given full disclosure of the financial position.

Dressing up these proposals as a significant improvement on the rejected Linden proposals by massaging the figures is insulting to the people of Guildford who will be impacted by the development.

Editor’s note: We have asked the developer, Vivid, and the cathedral for a response

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Responses to Letter: Cathedral Housing Developer Is ‘Massaging The Figures’

  1. Jim Allen Reply

    January 15, 2022 at 12:28 pm

    Good to see someone has done their homework. Well done on disseminating the information correctly and countering the publicity documents.

  2. R Connor Reply

    January 15, 2022 at 1:13 pm

    An excellent letter.

    Too many developers are allowed leniency in quality and density in towns where the infrastructure is already at breaking point.

    Councils should be able to demand more and higher quality to ensure that what is provided is tailored to the actual need.

    Covid has shown the need for open space to be absolutely crucial. More people equals more open space, not less.

    “Affordable” should be actually mean affordable and not allowed to be sold on for anything more than that. Furthermore, the numbers of dwellings marked for that should not be allowed to reduced once a proposal is passed.

    The ethics of the cathedral should demand complete transparency with its surrounding community who will be the ones who have to live with the proposed development and it should demand the same from the developers with whom they choose to align.

    The cathedral wants the development they should bear the weight of construction and resultant development traffic down their nice, wide, open driveway instead of the narrow roads like Ridgemount, which then lead into the congested road system. This is only going to get worse with the Solum “Great Wall of Guildford” development.

    Far more imagination is needed to ensure that those at the Cathedral don’t ruin Stag Hill and make life harder permanently for its surrounding community for what appears to be a temporary solution to its financial issues.

  3. E Parry Reply

    January 15, 2022 at 1:40 pm

    As always the devil is in the detail as highlighted in this letter to The Dragon.

    I agree that full disclosure of the financials are very important in this case. Back in 2017, Linden was forced to disclose the financials to the public and the development was rightfully rejected.

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