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Letter: Is the North Street Design What Voters Really Wanted?

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

From: Paul Spooner

leader of the Conservative group at GBC and borough councillor for Ash South & Tongham

Cllr Bigmore knows very well that the Conservatives did not ignore North Street for 20 years.

Previous leaders such as Cllr Rooth and Stephen Mansbridge both worked with council officers on regeneration and I spent four years on it as leader (with Regeneration responsibility), with the current applicant, with M&G and with the great, late Tony Pidgeley, chairman of Berkeley Homes.

When the electorate chose another course for political leadership North Street was progressing well with better design, a bus interchange that worked for companies and residents alike and was less dense.

We refused to accept such high-rise buildings so near the heritage quarter of Guildford.

What the current administration has “achieved” is through capitulation on the grounds of demonstrating progress in their term of office with very little affordable housing, a poor housing mix, very poor design akin to 1970s Wandsworth or Tower Hamlets.

It’s very sad. Is that really what residents voted for in 2019?

I would be very surprised if this scheme will feature on the front page of Berkeley’s glossy brochures given some of the excellent schemes they have developed in London and other areas.

It is such a shame that the level of design is so poor in Guildford through their partnership with M&G.

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Responses to Letter: Is the North Street Design What Voters Really Wanted?

  1. Jan Messinger Reply

    January 8, 2023 at 5:08 pm

    What is poor is that some people think the electors don’t realise what’s going on. There are borough elections in May. This is the only reason this is being highlighted.

    I don’t look forward to all the new homes being built in Guildford or Surrey and other local counties. However, it seems to be all over the UK.

    Please stop trying to point score with different political comments. Please, for once, work for those who live and work in Guildford. I have already read one political leaflet that came via Royal Mail all it told me was the bad everyone else was doing.

    Absolutely nothing about what they would do to get me to vote for them. I think we are going to get a lot of this in the coming weeks. I will be looking for those telling me what they actually intend to do, not point-scoring. Those that do will not get peoples’ votes.

  2. David Ogilvie Reply

    January 9, 2023 at 6:34 pm

    I have lived and worked in Guildford as an architect and town planner since 1973 and been on the Guildford Society Planning cCmmittee for most years since that date.

    I have never seen anything of the low-rise scheme for North Street that is referred to. The last fully developed scheme that reached the Planning Committee was the St Dominic’s Square shopping centre that was refused.

  3. Paul Spooner Reply

    January 10, 2023 at 8:29 am

    Mr Ogilvie makes a fair point. While there was stakeholder consultation by M&G [site owners] prior to 2019 there was no planning application because the parties never reached that point.

    The Guildford Society and GVG were both involved in the stakeholder consultations run by M&G and Cllr Rigg attended at least one. I have no recollection of who attended on behalf of the Guildford Society.

    There was a period between May 2019 and November 2019 when Lib Dems had responsibility for North Street. Conservatives were not invited to North Street board meetings from May 2019 to date but I was invited to Major Projects Board [meetings] by Cllr Rigg after November 2019.

    Paul Spooner is the leader of GBC’s Conservative group and a borough councillor for Ash South & Tongham.

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