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Letter: Greenbelt Group’s Support for Station Scheme is Appalling

Published on: 22 May, 2016
Updated on: 22 May, 2016

Another artist's impression of the proposed development, viewed from the south-east.From Gordon Bridger

Hon Alderman and former Mayor of Guildford

That Solum’s horrible Guildford station redevelopment scheme should be supported by the Guildford Greenbelt Group [see: Guildford Society Nominates Station Land As Assets of Community Value] is quite appalling. It would ruin the town centre.

Never in our known history has such dreadful scheme which would blight the whole of the town centre been proposed – and now it is supported by the Greenbelt Group. Incredible.

I hope the more conscientious members of this group will disassociate themselves from such a socially irresponsible decision.

I am also distressed to note that despite government statements in the Localism Act that councillors can comment on plans put forward before seeing officers recommendations – without accusations of “predetermination” some councillors are still determined to ignore this freedom.

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Responses to Letter: Greenbelt Group’s Support for Station Scheme is Appalling

  1. Adrian Atkinson Reply

    May 22, 2016 at 12:13 pm

    I don’t see the comment from GGG is in support of that particular development proposal but more that development of the station and other brown field sites should happen before green belt development. Is the GSoc proposal a delaying tactic? I don’t know.

    I too am against the proposal in front of us but not against redevelopment of the station to provide a better experience for commuters and as many truly sustainable housing, close to jobs, close to facilities, close to transport hubs, as possible.

    I understand there are only around 1,200 homes being proposed in the town centre out of 13,000+, in the new local plan. That is simply not enough.

    I believe there is too much retail development being proposed for Guildford town in the new draft plan at the expense of much needed housing. That is another bad planning proposal by the council and anybody who knows anything about the future of retail knows that. Guildford does not need an increase in retail of 25 per cent, the equivalent of around 30 Aldi supermarkets.

    There are so many things that are wrong with this plan, yet the Guildford Executive push on with the trajectory they enthusiastically adopted from former Cllrs Mansbridge and Juneja.

  2. Ben Paton Reply

    May 22, 2016 at 1:18 pm

    I think the allegation is unfounded. As far as I’m aware GGG is as against the appalling Solum proposals as everyone else. Certainly I am.

    The fact is multiple green belt sites are under attack by Guildford Borough Council (despite the Conservative election pledges). So villagers around the borough have their work cut out as it is. And it’s also a fact that we have fewer resources than the town.

    It really is a bit rich of Gordon Bridger, of all people, to demand support when he and has been vociferous in advocating building on the green belt, in particular in the historic parish of Ockham.

    Rather than worrying about the speck in other people’s eye he should pay attention to the mote in his own. When is he going to support us?

  3. Colin Cross Reply

    May 22, 2016 at 7:16 pm

    Having just read Irwin Stelzer’s column in today’s Sunday Times I must concur with the above comments on long-term retail trends. I know Stelzer refers to over the pond but this is a long term movement that knows no boundaries.

    US High Street retail sales down 1.7 per cent in the last year, and stores closing, whilst online sales rose 2.4 per cent.Make no mistake this is underway here too and we ignore it at our peril.

    There must be flexible construction plans that allow for change of use to residential as and when these effects really take hold. Empty shops and rundown malls are a sad sight and waste a very scarce resource, land.

    Colin Cross is the Lib Dem ward councillor for Lovelace.

  4. Lisa Wright Reply

    May 22, 2016 at 10:16 pm

    I certainly haven’t got any more cash to spend in all these new shops we’re going to have. Where are all these new shoppers coming from?

    Has anyone asked our current retailers whether they think they can afford to lose income to new competitors?

  5. John Robson Reply

    May 23, 2016 at 10:44 am

    This appears a tad contradictory to me. In an earlier comment Mr Bridger considered the ruination, or “development”, of the green belt perfectly acceptable, justifying the wanton dereliction of an AONB in the process, with the question “are these homes not more important than views of homes for birds and bees?”

    Yet, when we have proposals to develop Guildford station, presumably to cater for the increased number of displaced London bound commuters now residing in their leafy greenbelt abodes, Mr Bridger cries foul.

    Surely the requirement for the London commuters to make a more expedient transition back up to their London place of work is more important than a nice view?

    Or is the Guildford station development happening on his doorstop? Are only the Town Centre views considered “sacrosanct”?

  6. Gordon Bridger Reply

    May 26, 2016 at 6:19 pm

    Mr Robson is careless with his accusations – I have never been opposed to redevelopment of the station and when on the Planning Committee approved some commendable plans. This one is just horrible. I have been arguing for years that we need more housing in the town centre not retail.

    And how can one have a sensible discussion with anyone who comes up with the silly accusation that I “want to destroy the green belt”? The council has proposed that around 1.6%, of the 89% green belt that makes up our borough, be considered for desperately needed housing.

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