Fringe Box



Letter: Pop Up Village – Good Idea – Poor Execution

Published on: 2 Jan, 2017
Updated on: 2 Jan, 2017

From Anne-Marie Davies

I thought the idea of a pop up village built of storage containers was an excellent one.

Unfortunately, despite the claims of Cllr Reeves that many people in the council worked together to make it a reality, it would appear that those tasked with designing both the aesthetic and the ambience of the site were not duly equipped to do so.

There are many and varied interesting and inventive shipping container to retail unit conversions available. Sadly, none of these innovative designs was chosen for Guildford.

The choice of doors to the containers was in my opinion the greatest failure in the pop up village. I have no doubt this was a monetary consideration as they look like the cheapest option available, circa 1980s conservatory.

Upon first visiting the village the entrance boasted a cherry picker, a pile of rubble, and a pile of discarded fairy lights. There was one table provided and it was occupied by a stall holder consuming his own produce.

There was no cover from the elements and nowhere to eat or drink any purchases, unless you bought alcohol and sat on the table reserved for the bar. The gabions had been badly filled, did not provide seating, and were surrounded by barriers. It looked like a building site and had the festive cheer of a prison yard.

Over half of the units were empty, despite a story in the Surrey Advertiser stating that there had been “thousands” of expressions of interest. (This was later changed to “hundreds”.)

On my second visit a loud dodgems had been set up. Is cheap fairground really the vibe the many council departments had agreed upon? It isn’t very popular with the people I have asked in Guildford, who tend to find youths sitting on the roof of shipping containers flicking cigarettes unconducive to browsing artisan gifts. Not a match made in heaven.

On my second visit I also saw a small child lean on the safety barriers only for it to collapse under his tiny weight. A proper rush job.

I hope that Guildford Borough Council can learn from many mistakes:

  • people who design pop up villages and innovative uses of public space have specific talents, talents not necessarily in the Guildford arsenal;
  • cheapest is not always best, in fact it can result in all the money being wasted;
  • Guildfordians don’t like garish tat;
  • you get one chance to get it right.

It is rare that I think a consultant would have been money well spent, but on this occasion, I believe it would have prevented money being wasted.

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Responses to Letter: Pop Up Village – Good Idea – Poor Execution

  1. Gina Redpath Reply

    January 2, 2017 at 5:04 pm

    The author of the article is, in my opinion, absolutely correct in that professional advice should have been sought. He doesn’t mention, however, the huge hoardings which prevent passers by from looking into the area, I have walked past many times forgetting the “pop up” was there, surely if these were removed there would be more footfall.

    On Saturday I saw an elderly gentleman fall down the steps into a crowd in North Street Market; now that is a poorly sited market. The new steps are quite dangerous when it is crowded, there are no handrails and if you want to get along North Street by walking behind the stalls, drivers of the vehicles on North Street can be quite aggressive and the traffic quite fast flowing.

    Why doesn’t Guildford have a proper indoor market, a Christmas Market and a regular French or German Market?

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