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Letter: Guildford Can Do Better Than the Current North Street Plan

Published on: 8 Jan, 2023
Updated on: 7 Jan, 2023

From: Stephen Rowden

In response to: Planning Committee Rejects Tory Bid for Full Council Consideration of North Street Plan

I refer to the decision to vote down a proposal that the full council should vote on the Guildford centre redevelopment proposal going ahead in its current form.

I am tempted to say the decision was made because the motion was supported by three councillors of the Conservative party. But before jumping to a hasty conclusion, let us consider the comments made by Cllr Fiona White [Lib Dem, Westborough and chair of the Planning Committee] and remain neutral.

Cllr White is reported to have said: “… that councils have planning committees because councillors were needed who had received appropriate training and had a certain level of expertise in planning issues, who are able to look at applications particularly difficult applications in detail…

“If this application was to be referred to full council there are a number of members who have either not done any planning training at all, or have done such limited training, and so long ago, that they would certainly need a refresher course.”

Having lived in Guildford for approaching 40 years I respectively suggest that Cllr White’s views miss the point. It is not necessary to have a technical knowledge of why weeds grow to recognise that they can be an eyesore in the wrong location.

What is at stake is:

  1. the right of Guildford residents to hear their views expressed through all their elected representatives;
  2. the lack of sympathetic appearance that would potentially endanger the historical appeal of Guildford town centre; and
  3. the negative impact on local amenities and parking.

We only have to travel to Woking (or view it from the Hog’s Back) or go to Croydon to see the negative impact of modern high-rise design developments. No doubt given planning approval with good intentions at the time but now, I would suggest, not appreciated by the local residents.

Guildford can do better.

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