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Letter: ‘Emotional Blackmail’ Again Being Used to Force GBC’s Hand on Cathedral Plan

Published on: 13 Jan, 2023
Updated on: 13 Jan, 2023

Joint letter from the Vary, Parry, Cotton, Cooney and Watt familes

on behalf of Friends of Stag Hill (FOSH)

Following GBC’s rejection of the 2017 planning application, the Dean wrote to the community apologising for the distress that the cathedral had caused. She promised that the harmful proposals (and cathedral’s conduct) would not be repeated.

When we realised that the proposals by the developer Vivid were worse than the proposals by the previous developer Linden Homes, we reminded the Dean of her promises.

She refused to engage. The Dean and the Bishop referred every enquiry to Vivid, labelling them “planning issues”.

This extended to questions on the cathedral’s history. Documents in the cathedral archive show that the former Bishop of Guildford solicited the land so that it would remain free of development.

Revised masterplan for the proposed 124 homes on the cathedral slopes.

The cathedral wouldn’t comment on why it now seeks to build on the land: even its own volte-face was referred to Vivid.

The cathedral has tried to distance itself and to indicate that it is the developer which seeks to inflict this unpopular development.

Given Vivid’s scores and comments on Trustpilot and its treatment of the community, this was easy to believe.

As the planning committee hearing on the application to build approaches, it appears that the cathedral no longer considers the application to be a “planning issue”, to be judged by the same standards as any other.

It is (according to the Dean) essential for the cathedral’s survival and therefore deserving of special treatment.

See Controversial Housing Development Needed For Cathedral ‘To Survive’ Says Dean (December 2022).

The Dean and the Bishop will no doubt plead at the committee hearing (again) that without the development the cathedral will close, presumably hoping that GBC’s sympathy for the cathedral will lead to them allowing this unsuitable development.

This emotional blackmail is getting stale.

The Chapter cannot distance itself from the unpleasant aspects of the application and then tug on GBC’s heartstrings in the big finale. The cathedral is driving the application and should stand behind it.

The Chapter should be open and admit that concreting over the green hill, imposing oppressive blocks of flats on the neighbourhood, passing traffic down residential streets and risking damage to our properties due to the instability of the slope are, in its opinion, the price that the community must pay for the cathedral’s desire for funds (and free luxury houses for its staff).

The Chapter must appreciate that rather than delivering “the People’s Cathedral”, the Chapter’s behaviour is causing irreparable damage to the cathedral’s relationship with the community.

Anyone in doubt about this should read the comments on the GBC planning portal.

Guildford deserves better. Better than this horrendous over-development. And better behaviour from an institution that is supposed to seek to benefit the community.

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test 5 Responses to Letter: ‘Emotional Blackmail’ Again Being Used to Force GBC’s Hand on Cathedral Plan

  1. Anthony Mallard Reply

    January 13, 2023 at 3:37 pm

    I understand that the Church of England has mysteriously discovered a surplus £100 million to be spent on reparations for its involvement in slavery and the South Sea Company in the 18th century. Perhaps the Dean and Chapter may wish to bring pressure to bear on Church Commissioners to look further into their finances, with a view to funding, by loan or grant, whatever the Dean believes is necessary to prevent the closure of the cathedral.

    If successful, the Dean will have achieved her ambition and the people of Guildford and the diocese will retain, unspoiled, the green and pleasant setting of this Grade II* listed building.

  2. Stuart Barnes Reply

    January 14, 2023 at 9:51 am

    I consider the views put forward in the letter to be very reasonable. The proposed scheme should not be allowed to go through.

    If the C of E spent more time and money on its traditional values instead of the woke nonsense it is espousing under its current leaders then perhaps its churches would be better supported and schemes such as this would not be needed.

  3. Colin McCarthy Reply

    January 14, 2023 at 11:19 am

    In my opinion,it will be a disaster if this goes ahead.

    There is no need to build homes by the cathedral. Maybe something else could be considered, that would not damage that area .

    An alternative scheme should benefit the cathedral, the local community, all the people of Guildford and those further
    afield as well.

    Nothing is impossible.

    Never forget that.

  4. Sara Tokunaga Reply

    January 15, 2023 at 1:10 pm

    Excellent letter which states perfectly all the frustrations and worries the local community have with regard to this planned development and with those running Guildford Cathedral.

    By using emotional blackmail (again) and by allowing the plans to be presented over the Christmas period (again), they have shown their total disregard for the local community.

    I hope the GBC Planning Committee does the right thing and refuses this appalling planning application.

  5. Roy Connor Reply

    January 15, 2023 at 7:41 pm

    A well written letter by the residents whose concerns are valid and again the Church of England has announced a number of days ago a £100 million pledge see below for details.

    So what other funds do they have that could save a very special area.

    The Church of England is pledging £100 million to “address past wrongs”, after its investment fund was found to have historic links to slavery.

    The funding will be used to provide a “better and fairer future for all, particularly for communities affected by historic slavery”.

    A report last year found the Church had invested large amounts of money in a company that transported slaves.
    Justin Welby said it was “time to take action to address our shameful past”.

    The Archbishop of Canterbury previously called the report’s interim findings a “source of shame” in June 2022.

    The investigation, which was initiated by the Church Commissioners, a charity managing the Church’s investment portfolio, looked into the Church’s investment fund, which back in the 18th century was known as Queen Anne’s Bounty.
    It found that by 1777, Queen Anne’s Bounty had investments worth £406,942 (potentially equivalent to around £724m in today’s terms) in the South Sea Company.

    The report estimated that the South Sea Company transported 34,000 slaves “in crowded, unsanitary, unsafe and inhumane conditions” during its 30 years of operation.

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