Fringe Box



Letter: If the New North Street Application is Refused It Could Lie Fallow for Years

Published on: 8 Sep, 2023
Updated on: 8 Sep, 2023
From: Tony Rooth

former Independent borough councillor

St Edward gave its latest presentation on their revised planning application for North Street last night.

In January the council planning committee refused the original application by developers St Edward.

The major reason for refusal was the closure of the current access for buses into the bus station. Bus operators, Surrey County Council (as highways and transport authority ) and bus users (including myself) strongly objected because closure would have a major effect on bus services and cause traffic congestion.

The new application reinstates the current access alongside The Friary so the major reason for refusal has been removed

Another issue was the lack of sufficient affordable housing on-site. The developers now propose 10 per cent “affordable” housing of 16 shared ownership and 31 “affordable rent”.

Developers have apparently convinced officers that this percentage still makes the scheme financially viable for them. If so, there will be no “social rent” housing accommodation for the low-paid and residents on the council’s housing waiting list

However, in fairness to St Edward, their  revised scheme reduces the highest building by two storeys, changes the development’s overall scale, mass and visual impact, improves design and  provides more open space

If the new application (with appropriate amendments) is not approved,  St Edward could pursue its appeal against the previous refusal or walk away. If their appeal is successful, they could still build out the previous application which is considerably inferior to the revised proposals

North Street clearly needs regeneration. St Edward’s revised scheme may not be inspiring but comes the nearest to a development which may actually be built. Otherwise, the site may well stay vacant for many more years to come.

This is my personal opinion after 20 years as a councillor. I am certainly not on commission to St Edward or anyone else. I objected to the original application but was not a member of the Planning Committee which decided to refuse.

It is for residents to now comment and the GBC Planning Committee to decide at its meeting on October 11

I would recommend Guildford residents and visitors look at last night’s presentation and decide for themselves. Last night’s event was recorded and I am told will be viewed shortly on (

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Responses to Letter: If the New North Street Application is Refused It Could Lie Fallow for Years

  1. Andrew Wallard Reply

    September 8, 2023 at 5:46 pm

    I thought I had got used to the inability of this “newspaper” to use the English language, but “lay fallow” is inexcusable.

    Anyone with a modicum of language should know this should be “LIE fallow”. I am a scientist, not a grammarian, but the sloppy journalism of Dragon NEWS plumbs new depths.

    Editor’s response: thank you, the error has been corrected.

    • John Perkins Reply

      September 9, 2023 at 9:59 am

      That’s a little harsh, Mr. Wallard. We all make mistakes and some of them are annoying.

      National newspapers got rid of their sub-editors years ago and it shows. If they cannot afford it then there’s little reason why should a small local outlet should.

  2. Patrick Bray Reply

    September 10, 2023 at 2:18 pm

    None of the proposals for the development of North Street are beneficial to Guildford. Whilst North Street is not a vibrant modern space it still functions and has it’s charms dispute the fallow grounds.

    The right scheme is important but not permitting the wrong scheme more so. I would rather the site remains undeveloped until a positive scheme can be delivered.

    Perhaps scrape the surface back and grass it over and let it be a public amenity until such plans arrive.

    • Ben Paton Reply

      September 11, 2023 at 9:31 am

      A lot of people will sympathise with this view (including me).
      The problem is that the Council does not have the power to ‘not permit the wrong scheme’.
      The Council only owns about 15% of the site. It is not therefore in a very strong position to prescribe any particular solution. All it can do is negotiate with the owner.
      The owner stands to make tens of millions by developing the site. So that is what it plans to do.
      It is uncontroversial and obvious that this site is one of if not the most sustainable locations for new dwellings.
      Given that the owner has a legal right under the law of the land to develop the site, all the Council can do is set the parameters within which the developer must operate.
      If those parameters are not very good then it is the Council that is primarily to blame. It has had fifty years to come up with a ‘height policy’ and a ‘town centre plan’. Who created the ‘Local Plan’? Cllrs Mansbridge and Juneja and Cllrs Spooner and Furniss were the leaders and deputy leaders at the time. Which party has held the largest number of seats on the Council for the past 5 years? The Lib Dems.

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