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Letter: Guildford Must Take Control of Its Future

Published on: 20 Jan, 2023
Updated on: 20 Jan, 2023

From Gavin Morgan

founder of the Guildford Heritage Forum

In response to: Without the Excessive Height the North Street Scheme Had Real Merit

The town is spending millions on a Masterplan but the reality seems to be we have no control over the future of our town.

Developers turn up wanting to build enormous tower blocks. First Guildford station (10 storeys) then Debenhams (eight storeys in a conservation area) and then in North Street (13 storeys).

The impression I get is that the borough council feels it has to say “yes” because it will either be forced to anyway, through an appeal, or end up with nothing.

Why is this a problem? Because each developer that forces the town to allow taller buildings sets a precedent other developers will follow. And because Guildford has no Masterplan for the entire town, no height restrictions and no strategy for where tall buildings might be appropriate; the town is left unprotected.

What we really need is a proper public engagement exercise. It needs to be presented in a way that we all can all easily understand the issues and challenges. It needs to seek out what most people feel rather than be happy with a few comments from those who have time to volunteer.

Perhaps some of the money being spent on the Masterplan could be used. If not, perhaps the community should run one via the Guildford Society. Or perhaps our neglected museum could become a venue for exhibitions that explore what makes historic Guildford unique and how we can create a vibrant future without ruining what we have inherited.

It is about time Guildford took back control of its future rather than let developers decide.

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test 2 Responses to Letter: Guildford Must Take Control of Its Future

  1. Alistair Smith Reply

    January 21, 2023 at 7:36 pm

    Gavin Morgan may be interested to know that The Guildford Society has discussed running an event to show the developments proposed or approved in the town.

    Creating an engaging event has its challenges; we are considering options, and hope that we might run an event later in the year.

    Alistair Smith is the chair of the Guildford Society.

  2. Michael Brown Reply

    January 23, 2023 at 12:19 pm

    A good proposal but shouldn’t Guildford council run a proper information and consultation exercise across the borough?

    R4GV councillors are largely responsible for pushing ahead with the Masterplan and North Street development. If they really represent Guildford residents, Cllrs Bigmore and Rigg should tell residents, regularly, what is going on.

    Otherwise, are big decisions made in the shadows instead of through openness and transparency which councillors often talk about but do little to bring about.

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