Fringe Box



Letter: Inaccuracies in Comments on Waitrose

Published on: 9 Aug, 2013
Updated on: 9 Aug, 2013

From Cllr Caroline Reeves

(Lib Dem Borough Councillor for Friary & St Nicolas)

Waitroselet1Having read the list of reasons for the appeal launched by the Guildford Vision Group (GVG) against the High Court Judge’s dismissal of their request for a Judicial Review (Why We Are Challenging The Waitrose Planning Permission), I have spent some time checking facts.

The following are, in my view, corrections/comments on some of the more important inaccuracies.

  • The whole of the Bellerby Theatre site has never been allocated for housing, the southern part was for mixed use including housing, leisure and offices. This can be seen at GT3 in the saved Local Plan. If the whole of the Bellerby site was built out as housing, (GVG suggest up to 200) it would mean a high rise development, higher that the existing Waitrose application, which may not be appreciated by those living around the site. Also, there are no places in the nursery and junior school right next to the site so all children would have to find places at ‘edge of town’ schools. It is highly likely that they would be driven to and from school
  • The site has not been dormant for many years, permission for the demolition was granted in 2011 and GVG formed in 2012. Perhaps the members of GVG weren’t so familiar with this side of town until they decided they know it better than we do?
  • Mentioning loss of green belt land as an effect of this application is scaremongering, there are other town centre sites which will come forward as housing, not having housing on the Bellerby site won’t automatically mean there will be a need to build on the green belt. Any building on the green belt will be relevant to the area of the build and the need for viable housing in that location.
  • It has been a long term aim to make most of North Street pedestrianised so it has been established that the exit from the Bellerby site onto Leapale Lane and onto Leapale Road can be amended by GBC without recourse to SCC so that, should the street plan require it, HGVs can avoid North Street by turning right onto Woodbridge Road. The street layout here will change dramatically as the plans for North Street and the surrounding areas come forward as part of the whole plan for the town centre. This is a work in progress and not something which is being ignored. There would be many more buses than Waitrose HGVs in the area, unless our bus services seriously deteriorate, suggesting they will get tangled up is an exaggeration, as is suggesting HGVs will run over pedestrians in this specific location.
  • Unlike your correspondent Bibhas Neogi, GVG continue to disregard the number of transport related projects which are ongoing and forthcoming to address the complex transport challenges. In terms of the town centre and the wider town, GBC is finalising commissioning of the Guildford Town and Approaches Movement Study (G-TAMS), and SCC is working on a potential major scheme for the town centre, centred on the gyratory system. GBC will also be undertaking study into the wider economic impact of potential transformative interventions for the A3 trunk once the G-TAMS study is complete. All in all, GBC has committed £150k to these projects from 2012/13. These projects are in addition to recent past and present improvements including the establishment of a ring of park and ride sites (Artington, Spectrum, Merrow and, from this autumn, Onslow) the Surrey TravelSMART programme which is improving bus priority, walking and cycling routes across the town, and delivering business and community travel planning initiatives, and the opening of the new signal controlled junction replacing the Hospital Roundabout. The Park and Ride sites are for long term parking, there will always be a need for shorter term parking in the town centre.
  • GBC are not ‘pocketing all the money’ as GVG have said. Waitrose will pay for the new traffic junction at York/Stoke Roads, something which Sandfield School have campaigned for over the last 20 years but which SCC did not supply. In the officers report there’s a list of the contributions that Waitrose will be making to SANGS, open spaces, the affordable homes, plus a contribution of £76k to primary and secondary education.
  • The riverside is not relevant to the Bellerby Theatre site debate. Much of it is obviously in the flood plain and cannot easily be used for housing, so the GVG suggestion of housing the length of the river is not viable. The Local Plan will be the place to show what we aspire to for the river frontage, which is agreed by all has to become a high quality amenity space for the town.
  • Any campaigner knows that people write to object far more readily than they write to support anything. As I said in my speech at the planning meeting, when this was democratically debated, it’s the first time that residents have voiced their support so strongly, phoning me or stopping me in the street.

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Responses to Letter: Inaccuracies in Comments on Waitrose

  1. Pauline Surrey Reply

    August 11, 2013 at 7:53 am

    Thank you, to Cllr Caroline Reeves, for such a lot of important information about the situation in Guildford. It’s good to find out exactly what is going on. Allows people to make up their own minds having had fuller information.

  2. Julian Lyon Reply

    August 11, 2013 at 11:49 am

    Here is a summary of representations by the local ward councillors (including Cllr Reeves) to the then draft Bellerby Theatre and North Place Design and Development Brief late in 2010, shortly before the most recent Borough Elections.

    [The Councillors] acknowledge there could be an argument for town centre retail need, but the following needs should also be addressed on this site:

    • Affordable housing on the whole site (especially family homes as there are 3,100 in on the housing register), community centre/ facilities on the site (need a town centre location), older person friendly space in the town centre (within easy walking distance of bus and railway station).
    • The previous planning application for affordable housing included family homes (75 homes between 1 and 4 bedrooms), the need for affordable housing has not diminished.
    • Many existing local residents would prefer to have smaller community independent shops such as a butcher and greengrocer than a supermarket.
    • Any development will impact on the residents of College Rd, Hayden Place and Sandfield Terrace because of car parking and the loss of open spaces.
    • Concerned about food outlets and litter and also hours of operation for food and potential off sales of liquor.
    • All the footpaths are an important (sic). They are used by all to link with the town centre, bus station and train station. They are particularly important for students at Guildford College. The rationalization of vehicular accesses would be sensible if carefully thought through.
    • A large scale building would be totally out of keeping with the surrounding area whereas a mixed development would sit well with the Victorian local architecture. The scale of the BT building shouldn’t be used as a yard stick for the scale of any new development, which will sit between two streets of Victorian houses, and newer housing that has been built in scale to the existing buildings.
    • Any access to a supermarket will cause traffic problems wherever it is located, simply because of the current road layouts and access points.
    • Trees are an important part of the existing site and any losses should be replaced, and if possible all types of planting should be increased. The open area with shrubbery fronting Victoria Court is an important green and permeable area”

    Readers can view the whole document at

    One might ask: why Cllr Reeves believed then that a supermarket was not acceptable but that now a Waitrose is; why in the light of her letter, to ask if her current position contradicts the views she held just before the 2011 election; and why it was all right for her to hold those views then, but it is not acceptable for GVG to hold similar views now?

  3. Bernard Parke Reply

    August 12, 2013 at 8:20 pm

    It is true that this was not allocated for housing. It was planned to build a major car park on the same scale as the Sydenham Road Car Park.

    This proposal was defeated in council for the following reasons:

    1) It would put the adjacent sheltered accommodation in shadow

    2) It would bring more car born shoppers into central Guildford when an embryonic park and ride was in its early stages of development

    3) The popularity of THe Bellerby Theatre was at its height

    A compromise was to build a lesser car par on the old Co-op site in Lea Pale Lane. However, residents were dismayed to find the the minimum charge was as much as 50p per hour.

  4. Dotty Hinkle Reply

    August 13, 2013 at 11:37 am

    The difference between Cllr Reeves and GVG is that she is elected. Whilst GVG may hold the view that the Waitrose is wrong it is simply unacceptable for them to take the course of action they have.

    It is:

    – costing the tax payer thousands of pounds in a battle they will inevitably lose.

    – delaying much needed development and a cash receipt from the land sale

    – delaying a day centre

    – delaying much needed housing and

    – ensuring those that live near the site have to face an eyesore everyday.

    We need to be maximising our brownfield sites not building low density Victorian style schemes which are out of place: Printing House Square, the Telephone Exchange and Bell Court along with offices down College Road share no Victorian features and as for the open space around the former low grade buildings it was empty and never used!

    Mr Lyon is really struggling for reasons.

  5. Julian Lyon Reply

    August 14, 2013 at 10:00 am

    My apologies for any lack of clarity. I was not expressing my own opinions, just reporting the statements made by the Ward Councillors a few months before the 2011 Local Elections.

    If you particularly wish to read my views on the development, I made them very clear in my representations to the planning application and they are a matter of public record on line on the Council website (Planning Application reference 12/P/01020).

    I also hope this is resolved soon but if it comes to a choice (and for the record, this is my personal opinion) I would prefer the right decision in due course to a poor one quickly – after all, Guildfordians (and especially local residents) will have to live with it for a long time.

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