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Letter: ‘Perverse To Remove Important Historic Features’ In Chapel Street

Published on: 6 Feb, 2020
Updated on: 6 Feb, 2020

From Bob Bromham (Planning Secretary, Holy Trinity Amenity Group)

(see ‘Unease over GBC’s £1.6m pedestrian plan for repaving in historic town centre‘) and

(‘Letter: Repave Chapel Street; Why not a statue to Bernard Parke instead?’)

The public realm project and the Chapel Street proposals in particular, raise some disturbing issues.

The Holy Trinity Amenity Group represents local residents who frequently use the town centre and its amenities, and who have intimate knowledge of its problems. Our members want to walk around the town safely in conditions that are welcoming, not hostile, and which will encourage others to walk rather than drive.

Chapel Street, looking from Castle Street towards the High Street.

Over many years we have asked for basic pedestrian improvements, not least proper maintenance of pavements. Few have been delivered, but none outright rejected. They are of low cost compared to this project.

Sadly neither council officers nor councillors are aware of what has been going on, and much of our considerable work over the years is wasted. We desperately need a pedestrian task force to get proper considered and prioritised action, and perhaps a Town Centre Council who would consider these projects thoroughly.

We have always regarded Chapel Street as having a good surface that only needs minor repairs. and have only asked for two simple changes; full all day pedestrianisation and outlawing of promotional A-boards.

These could easily be done and would cost little. They would not require spending huge sums of money on external consultants. We did actually once get the council to remove some promotional A-boards, but they have reappeared and multiplied.

The present surface with cobbles and pavements is historic. It has existed for more than 200 years. The carriage wheel long stones are an interesting and now rare survival (there are similar ones in the Angel courtyard).

The carriage wheel long stones in Chapel Street.

This is still an historic street with several listed buildings along it. There are pictures from 150 years ago that show the surface much as it is now, and many of the same buildings are still present.

Our ‘brand’ is “An historic market town”. It is surely perverse to remove important historic features on a street that is supposed to be a route to what is now described as the “heritage quarter”.

The form of the High Street has been retained with its pavements, and was recommended to be listed. Why “modernise” a connected side street which should match it?

There are other issues of concern about the public realm project (Chapel Street, Swan Lane and Castle Street). We hope that the Council will reconsider the proposals, and the way they have been produced.

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Responses to Letter: ‘Perverse To Remove Important Historic Features’ In Chapel Street

  1. Matthew Alexander Reply

    February 6, 2020 at 7:55 pm

    I sympathise with the Holy Trinity Amenity Group’s desire to preserve the existing paving in Chapel Street.

    However, the pedant in me revolts against the expression ‘carriage wheel long stones’.

    The northern part of Chapel Street is a rare survival of a ‘stoneway’, or stone tramway. This consisted of two parallel tracks of granite slabs laid so that the cart wheels would run on their smooth surface.

    This reduced the rolling resistance of the wheels, while allowing the horses’ hooves to get a good grip on the setts between the slabs. These slabs were called ‘trams’ or ‘wheelers’.

    I doubt, though, that it has ‘existed for more than 200 years.’

    I think it more likely to have been installed in 1868 or 1869, when the Borough Surveyor, Henry Peak, famously paved the High Street. Still, more than 150 years is historic enough.

    Matthew Alexander is Honorary Remembrancer of Guildford.

  2. Dave Middleton Reply

    February 9, 2020 at 4:47 pm

    While much complaining about the councils, both borough and county, takes place with regards to the overall appearance of both Swan Lane and Chapel Street, some of the owners and occupiers of the premises on those streets need to smarten their premises up.

    Dirty windows, peeling paint, rotten window frames, blocked and broken gutters, algae covered walls and weeds growing out of brickwork, gutters and drains abound.

    After all, there’s little point in the councils spending millions smartening up the surface of the streets, when some of the premises look like Victorian slums.

    I know money is tight, but if your shop looks dirty and scruffy, it’s hardly going to attract people in.

    Nor indeed is the prospect of an assault course of advertising boards along the street particularly enticing.

  3. david ogilvie Reply

    February 16, 2020 at 5:08 pm

    It seems to me to be a waste of ratepayers money to replace existing perfectly serviceable granite setts that preserve the character and history of Chapel Street.

    No doubt to be replaced with expensive granite ashlar paving similar to those installed in Tunsgate that would destroy the historic appeal of Chapel Street.

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