Fringe Box



Letter: Old School Demolition Caused By Poor Planning Policies

Published on: 14 Dec, 2020
Updated on: 14 Dec, 2020

The Old School House being demolished, December 2020. Photo; Cllr Angela Gunning.

From: John Redpath

lead councillor for Economy and R4GV borough councillor for Holy Trinity

In response to: Anger Over Demolition Of Former School Building That Could Not Be Saved

This indeed was a lovely building with its attractive windows and grand roofscape. It will be missed as a landmark on the road to Woking but unfortunately, there were no planning policies in place at the time that could have saved it. Its loss, however, has nothing to do with the current political leaders at GBC, only with the poor planning-policy laid down by others.

In their planning application, the developers agreed to reinstate the very attractive window surrounds in the new building which will hopefully make it far from an unimaginative block of flats as suggested in this article.

Touching on politics however, it seems odd to find two Labour party big guns Brian Creese and Cllr Angela Gunning complaining about the provision of nine affordable flats when, in the same week that, through social media, labour stalwart Howard Smith claimed the current administration are Nimbies for holding back on development.

Sadly, I say to them, development often comes at a loss, whether that is a former green belt site or a great historic building like this.

Editor’s note: Cllr John Redpath was last week given the responsibility of Heritage formerly part of JCll James Steel’s portfolio.

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Responses to Letter: Old School Demolition Caused By Poor Planning Policies

  1. Sue Hackman Reply

    December 14, 2020 at 2:13 pm

    Cllr John Redpath illustrates perfectly why electors should vote Labour.

    More housing does not have to cost us our history; you do not have to accept an ugly block of executive homes for offensive levels of profits; you do not have to abandon hope that your children will ever afford to live near you; and personally, I do not think it has to cost us acres of green belt land if we think more fundamentally about “greenbelting” now that the population is so much bigger than it was when it was created in 1955 (up from 51m to 68m).

    Cllr Redpath and his fellow councillors could start by rethinking the North Street plans which seem to come from another time zone, and then move on to repurposing Debenhams.

    This vicious ‘homes or history’, Hobson’s choice, we have been offered can be solved. I urge readers to vote Labour instead, to conserve community assets and build for a future that your children can afford.

    Labour does not support the decimation of local communities or unsympathetic dormitory estates of prestige housing that drive ever more traffic through existing neighbourhoods.

    We’re here for you, not the bulldozers.

    Sue Hackman is the Guildford Labour Campaign Manager

    • Jules Cranwell Reply

      December 16, 2020 at 10:50 am

      Rather ironic this, since Labour councillors consistently supported the hated Tory Local Plan, and share the responsibility for the destruction of the green belt that has resulted. Vote Labour, get Croydon!

      • Howard Smith Reply

        December 16, 2020 at 11:50 pm

        In response to Jules Cranwell.

        Building, if it ever does take place, at Gosden, Blackwell and Wisley will make Guildford look exactly like Croydon. Not!

        Howard Smith is a former Parliamentary candidate for Guildford Labour.

  2. Angela Gunning Reply

    December 14, 2020 at 4:36 pm

    I don’t think Cllr John Redpath has been paying attention. It was with great regret that the planning committee at which I was present, as a committee member, voted narrowly in favour to grant planning permission.

    No, I was not complaining about the provision of flats. Not complaining (please don’t put words into my mouth) but expressing regret, sorrow even, that this fine historic building has been destroyed.

    To witness the demolition crew breaking it up was heartbreaking. And what about “affordable housing” no mention of that in the planning application (19/p/01297).

    Angela Gunning is a Labour borough councillor for Stoke

    • David Roberts Reply

      December 16, 2020 at 3:25 pm

      As Mr Cranwell reminds us, Cllr Gunning voted in favour of adopting the hated Tory Local Plan.

  3. David Smith Reply

    December 14, 2020 at 5:59 pm

    I was appalled by this story when I read it last week and it’s sad to keep seeing individuals involved, pass the buck or worse, attempt to hide behind the criticism of two other respected councillors.

    Having carried out a little research, it appears that the approved scheme is the result of a previously refused proposal. Why were there no alarm bells ringing at this stage when surely the council could have acted and afforded the property some sort of protection?

    I would suggest GBC carry out an urgent review to ensure that other buildings of architectural merit like this, are protected instead of waiting until planning applications come forward.

    It may have been caused by bad planning policies, but it would be helpful if Cllr Redpath at least knew what those were. As far as I am aware a proposal for nine flats is under the threshold for affordable and so it is not accurate to say that this development will provide affordable homes. These will all be sold at open market prices which, in the case of Guildford, are not affordable.

  4. Jim Allen Reply

    December 14, 2020 at 10:08 pm

    Housing should not be a political football, as it has been here in the comments, nor should it be a licence for excessive developers’ profits. The priority should be housing local homeless people and then housing for essential workers.

    Isn’t this what we all want regardless of our station in life or our political colour.

    As for the destruction of our heritage, an English oak can take 100 years to reach maturity but just 15 minutes to destroy.

  5. Brian Creese, Guildford Labour Party Reply

    December 16, 2020 at 9:42 am

    While I entirely agree with Jim Allen’s sentiments, I’m afraid housing is political.

    The massive post-war programme of council house building was led by Labour, who believed in just the values expressed by Mr Allen. Tories, even pre-Thatcher, wanted more freedom for developers to build expensive housing attracting greater profits.

    Thatcher’s housing policies were totally political; by breaking up the large estates of council housing she intended to break up large swathes of Labour votes.

    Right-to-buy may have been good for individuals but was a disaster for society, one we are still struggling to recover from. So while it may be true that housing should not be “political”, I am afraid it is and will remain so until all parties agree a common view.

    Brian Creese is the chair of Guildford Labour

  6. Alasdair Nicol Reply

    December 17, 2020 at 5:38 pm

    Sue Hackman writes that Labour does not support the decimation of local communities. However in Stoke they continue to support the closure of Bellfields Allotments, one of its most valuable community and environmental assets, even now that the secretary of state has refused permission. It seems that often they do stand with the bulldozers, not their residents.

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