Fringe Box



Letter: Council’s Recognition of the Need for Economic Strategy is Welcome

Published on: 5 Aug, 2013
Updated on: 5 Aug, 2013

Retail studyFrom Gordon Bridger

Hon Alderman

At the recent Executive meeting of Guildford Borough Council two very important items were discussed and approved.

The first related to the development of the huge area north of North Street part of which has been purchased by M & G Investments and has been planned for a “retail led development”.

This has not changed despite the fact that the basis for retail expansion has now been undermined by economic circumstances and by on line shopping. One hopes that economic common sense will ensure that investors will not go ahead with this plan to make the town centre the largest retail  park in southern England and go for a mixed development with high priority for housing, which anyway could be a more profitable investment.

The second item consisted of an Economic Strategy  for 2013 – 2030. This is a very welcome recognition that the Guildford economy and its future  depends upon making us a centre of international technical excellence. The “gross value added” of creating skilled and professional jobs could be four or five times greater than those that the retail sector would provide.

Furthermore, this development is one which will inevitably take place outside our traditional overcrowded town centre. (Cllr Stephen Mansbridge, the leader of the council, stated that half of new jobs created were outside the centre).

The report also emphasizes that our two great problems are traffic congestion and lack housing – a belated acceptance of what is obvious to most of us but which seems to escaped the attention of the retail consultants whom the council has employed for the North Street plan.

However, the economic strategy report needs amending. Its employment data needs refining and its omission of the significance of retail development is distinctively odd. It also needs to recognize the need for better links between the centre and its rapidly developing outer links. More would be welcome about the need to develop the Science Research Park,  possibly a mono rail  from it to the centre, and a bridge over the railway.

The economic strategy paper needs more work but it is a helpful basis upon which to build. One would urge all those with an interest and or skills, to read it and send in their comments.

Click here to access the relevant council papers.

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