Fringe Box



Letter: Land Should Not Have Been Used for a Surface Car-Park

Published on: 21 Nov, 2013
Updated on: 21 Nov, 2013

Park & Ride LetterFrom Tom Stevens

I’m not surprised to find the new park-and-ride service near the Surrey Sports Park is attracting so few customers. I’ve seen many of the new pink buses pass me by in Guildford, but I’m yet to see anyone in them – apart from the driver of course.

I certainly can’t imagine why anyone would drive through one of the most congested parts of Guildford to a pick up a bus, which will then take them back through the traffic to the town centre.

It seems such a shame that part of the old hunting ground for Henry II and the 600 year old hedgerows that crossed the Manor Park site have been levelled and tarmaced to form a car park.

This scheme, which covers a considerable area, also highlights a particular concern I share with the Campaign for the Protection of Rural England (CPRE) regarding the inefficient use of land associated with surface-level parking.

There are already more than 17 hectares of surface-level car park, including accompanying infrastructure, owned by the University on the west of Guildford town centre and to the south of the Aldershot and Reading main railway line. Much of this parking, such as that at the University of Surrey’s Research Park is used for just a few hours a week.

I believe that these vast areas of surface car park can be put to much better use and I believe that the university and Guildford Borough Council (GBC) has a responsibility to make sure this happens. This is particularly the case as GBC is suggesting that we may need to take further areas out of green belt and the university, is preparing its own plans for a development of 2000 homes on open countryside at Blackwell Farm.

Replacing the existing surface car parks with multi-storey and subterranean parking for vehicles would release land that can be used for multifunctional development so that the most is gained from each unit area of land. What could be more sustainable than the people who work in the Research Park and hospital having the opportunity to live there too?

17 hectares at a density of housing of 40 dwellings per hectare would allow up to 680 new homes within the existing town boundaries; by incorporating more apartment type accommodation at 45 dwellings per hectare that would increase up to 765 – either way a considerable number of new homes.

These car parks do not promote more sustainable means of movement. A large proportion of these 17 hectares stand empty for 15 hours each day (evening and night) and at weekends.

One of the five purposes of Green Belt is to “assist in urban regeneration, by encouraging the recycling of derelict and other urban land.”  Hopefully the people of Guildford will continue to fight for the green belt, not simply to protect the beautiful countryside which Surrey has to offer, but because it makes sure that we invest in making the centre of the town a better place to live.

There are many areas that Guildford could and should regenerate within the town which would result in a positive and exciting outcome from the local planning process, not simply blight of the countryside and of the town.

The more efficient use of car parking is one area which needs exploring, along with any other potential brownfield sites. This should be done before any single plot of land is released from the green belt, let alone a site for 2000 new homes on the particularly beautiful Blackwell Farm.

I would urge everyone in Guildford to writes to their councillors before the end of the consultation period (November 29) to share their views.

Tom Stevens is an organiser of Save Hogs Back Campaign


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Responses to Letter: Land Should Not Have Been Used for a Surface Car-Park

  1. Mark Payne Reply

    November 21, 2013 at 10:55 pm

    Sensible article. Why are developers pressing for green belt when there is land available within existing town limits that can meet all our housing needs?

  2. Chris Warner Reply

    November 21, 2013 at 11:16 pm

    My concern regarding this site is that almost every morning when driving north on the A3 up to six deer could be seen grazing on the grass. Now this expanse of tarmacadam has replaced the grass the deer have vanished, where to, who knows.

  3. Bibhas Neogi Reply

    November 22, 2013 at 11:19 am

    Multi-storey car parks are a lot more expensive to construct and therefore only viable where demand is high for relatively short periods of parking. Park and Ride on the other hand serves to reduce traffic from entering the town centre and cater for those who want to spend long hours in the town. These are located on the outskirts of the town and are surface car parks because they are cheaper to construct.

    Combining multi-storey car parks with residential quarters has its own problems. The environment is not appropriate for good quality living. Large spaces out of hours provide scope for anti-social activities and could degrade the area.

    A compromise is to have apartment blocks with their secure designated parking underground and the surface parking above these for the day-time use as Park & Ride spaces. These are smaller car parks dotted around within the residential areas and are served by buses not just for Park & Ride users but for all. Some French cities have adopted this kind of development that works well. Maybe this will work for Guildford also.

    Onslow Park & Ride should ideally have access and exit connected to the A3 but this can only be done when the A3 improvements of the stretch through Guildford is carried out. This Highways Agency scheme, A31 to A247 improvements, has been shelved during 2010 cuts in the roads programme and needs to be resurrected. Please see the following link showing my suggestions for improvements to the A3:-

  4. Lisa Wright Reply

    November 22, 2013 at 11:27 am

    It’s cheaper to build on green belt making the land owner a bigger profit.

    GBC should be forcing developers to revitalise brownfield sites. There are plenty of them in Guildford.

  5. Roland McKinney Reply

    November 22, 2013 at 12:32 pm

    What a good letter, speaking out in favour of the green belt. Something that has been denied us through the normal political process.

    Surrey County Council had a proud tradition of promoting a green belt and had a major role in shaping the eventual Green Belt Act of 1938. This concept was then reinforced by successive generations of MPs, all of whom voted in favour of the green belt policy in the 1940s, 50s and 60s.

    Despite these generations of MPs being strongly in favour of the green belt, it is now subject to death by a thousand cuts, by local authorities across the country, without there ever having been a vote on this policy in the House of Commons. This is government by executive order at its worst. Any form of democratic vote or accountability is totally absent.

    We need to have a Royal Commission on land use in England; we are destroying agricultural land in and out of the Green Belt at an alarming rate. There is much discussion about how to reduce our national trade deficit, which in food, and food products, is a deficit of about £18 billion.

    This policy of concreting over green belt will simply increase our deficit and make the UK ever more dependent on food imports, leading to higher food prices for everyone. Food price inflation already is almost double that of inflation as measured by the CPI, and this is forecast to continue into the foreseeable future.

    Building housing on agricultural land will do nothing to avert the looming food price crisis, which is already worse than the much debated energy price crisis. This is why a Royal Commission is essential and all building on green belt should be stopped until it completes a report.

  6. Andrew Backhurst Reply

    November 22, 2013 at 7:44 pm

    Well said Bibhas Neogi.

    I have not often had cause to compliment him on a comment but he is correct in what he says about the Park and Ride.

    It has been put in place as an infrastructure. You have to think that this town and all the other towns around us are going to grow in population, many of these inhabitants will work in, or wish to visit, Guildford and these park and rides will become vital cogs in the transport machine.

  7. I Buchan Reply

    November 24, 2013 at 12:28 pm

    I am in complete agreement. All brownfield sites should be explored before the green belt.

    We are custodians. What are we to leave for the next generation? Will it just be a built-up urban sprawl with not an animal or nature in sight? Horrid. Please, those responsible, see sense.

    How can common land, ancient woodlands and farm land protect themselves? They are only protected by small dedicated bands and groups.

    I understsand landowners want big profits from land sales, but at what cost? We need housing, jobs, infrastructure and schools.

    Think outside the box, get creative and build for the long term, sensibily.

  8. Bibhas Neogi Reply

    November 25, 2013 at 10:44 am

    Apart from brownfield sites, there are vast areas in Guildford on either side of river Wey occupied by light industrial units, car show rooms, sorting office, DIY centres etc. These areas could be transformed into living quarters with a mix of affordable housing such as apartment blocks.

    The developments could be sensitively designed with good quality amenities, landscaping and enhanced environment such as parks and gardens. One of the many advantages would be that they are within walking distances of the town centre, the railway station and the bus station if relocated on to Mary Road car park site.

    If the sites are not owned by GBC then they could be purchased compulsorily. The question then would be where to relocate these commercial units. There are existing areas that could be enlarged such as Slyfield Industrial area. Of course road access needs to be enhanced and upgraded.

    Other areas may come about due to improvements to road junctions such as the A31 and the A3 in the west, the A3 and the A247, in the north. The areas around the Burnt Common Centre in London Road (B2215) could be developed that has good access off the A3 and back to it via the A247 on-slip. On the east, if an area could be found close to the A25 Park and Ride or in the Park Lane area that could cater for that part of Guildford. In the south, such amenities already exist in the Godalming area.

    We all have to come to terms with the fact that all towns and cities have grown and gradually extended into the fields around them. As the population grows, so does the demand on housing and land but expansion has to be managed to derive the best possible use of land. And there comes the compromise.

    Yes, all brownfield sites should be developed first but there is a limit beyond which new land has to be acquired. To say that green areas and green belt has to be protected at all costs would, in fact, be denying benefit to the majority in favour of retaining our views of this or that green pastures. Which would we prefer for our future generations?

  9. S Lowther Reply

    November 25, 2013 at 4:04 pm

    The comment made by an earlier respondant of “government by executive order at its worst” seems to me to be particularly relevant in this case. I am aware of a large groundswell of opinion against taking land out of green belt which seems to be met with intransigence from the powers that be.

    Please listen to the voice of your voters! Considered and sensible deliberation, only once all brownfield sites have been exhausted.

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