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Letter: ‘North Street Quarter’ Is a Development That Enhances Guildford Now and For the Future

Published on: 7 Jan, 2023
Updated on: 7 Jan, 2023

The model of the proposed North Street Regeneration, “Friary Quarter”.

From: John Price

In response to: Decision Day Will Be Wednesday, But You Can Still Have Your Say

I have lived in and around Guildford for most of my life. In the late 70s I worked on the Friary Shopping Centre during its construction. At the time Guildford Council and residents of Guildford were so pleased to start the regeneration of Guildford.

Unfortunately, this was not the start of a route to redevelop Guildford into a vibrant, must-visit place, a clean and safe town to go out in, and above all a “town centre” that was thriving.

Having spent my life in construction I have seen numerous developers, (Westfield, Land Sec, The Prudential, Land Lease, and others) all look to come to Guildford but all have walked away.

Why? Because previous Guildford Borough Councils made it too difficult, made the schemes unviable, and the planning process too lengthy. This made other towns and cities more attractive for them to develop.

So well done to Guildford planners passing the Native Land Scheme (the former Debenhams site). We will have a development that creates life, improves the appearance of Guildford and allows a “kick” start to what should be a great future for Guildford after 40 years of stagnation.

Some areas are reminiscent of post-war Britain with derelict sites, empty buildings. But above all, there are wasted opportunities for residential, retail, commercial use.

I note that Robin Horsley has raised concerns that he and others were not notified or consulted
about the redevelopment of North Street. I find it amazing that he can claim he was not aware of the proposed scheme.

I can recall the front pages of the Surrey Advertiser running through the various attempts at regeneration over the years, the newspaper is still in existence but circulation has dropped and we now have the online newspaper The Guildford Dragon NEWS [we have provided extensive coverage of the proposal from the earliest days. Ed]

When R4GV established itself as a party it moved to redevelop the town with a “residential“ lead and a secondary “retail/ café” environment. There have been presentations, debates about the massing, the bus station, the bus access and egress, and an exhibition by the developer with a full model of the proposal, not to mention the general site clearance and fencing carried out three years ago.

I say well done to GBC and well done St Edward Homes.

If we allow any form of delay in progressing the “redevelopment” we will look at another 40
years of Guildford being a “ghost town” no developer will want to risk looking at schemes, the
existing town centre will continue to shrink with more empty shops, and as a whole Guildford will look like a third-world town.

Guildford has great potential, and it must be unleashed, now. We need to move forward and
work with the North Street developers, and others to make Guildford a vibrant town to live in,
work in, shop in, go out in, and raise families.

Guildford is Guildford, I see nothing that resembles Woking, what I see is a development that enhances Guildford now and for the future.

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