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Letter: Debenhams – Let’s Not Get Nimby

Published on: 13 Aug, 2021
Updated on: 13 Aug, 2021

From: Bill Stokoe

chair of the Guildford Vision Group (GVG)

I do hope that we are not returning to Nimbyland when it comes to the Debenhams proposals.

The developer, unlike Solum, has worked hard to incorporate the feedback from each of the consultations it has staged. Native Land and its architect are to be congratulated in the manner in which they have built their proposals for the site.

Right from its inception, GVG has stood for regeneration and growth in our town centre. The Debenhams site is the first chance for decades to deliver exciting and attractive features for the benefit of residents and visitors alike.

GVG has sought wider pedestrianisation and an opening up of the riverside, plus more homes in the town centre. The Native Land proposals deliver in every respect, with a good measure of respect for Guildford’s heritage.

The current Debenhams building represents the old, tired, unchanging Guildford. It has never offered anything by way of respect for the town’s heritage. I’ve heard of moves to list it – that would be an absolute disaster.

So please let’s not get all sentimental. The world moves on, people want different things now. Other centres – Basingstoke, Reading and even Woking – are eating our lunch.

I accept there is an issue around the heights of the proposals. Perhaps one less storey, and some setting back at height, might still deliver the benefits. I would hate to see the project lost and for the site to stand empty. The history of the North Street and Plaza [old CEGB site at the bottom of the Portsmouth Road] sites to date tell the tale. If it is not viable it will stand empty. Our town centre desperately needs new residents and new neighbourhoods, and not in the green belt.

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test 3 Responses to Letter: Debenhams – Let’s Not Get Nimby

  1. Janet Moorhouse Reply

    August 13, 2021 at 6:26 pm

    When I am at the bottom end of the High Street I would like to be able to buy a loaf of bread or a bottle of milk without having to go to the basement of Marks & Spencer to do so.

  2. J Brown Reply

    August 14, 2021 at 9:57 am

    It is incredibly disappointing to find that Guildford Vision Group’s ambition for Guildford is for it to be like Basingstoke, Reading or Woking. What a let down.

  3. Sue Warner Reply

    August 15, 2021 at 7:47 pm

    I think the new proposals by Native Land have been very considerate. They have already taken one of the buildings down by a storey to reduce the impact on the surrounding area.

    I think the council should accept this and not leave the area to end up derelict like the North Street area which has been derelict since the mid-80s. What has been proposed is far better than the awful tower blocks they’ve built in Woking.

    Let’s not be tardy and get on with it.

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