Fringe Box



Letter: Residents of Guildford Park Avenue Are Disappointed With Planning Decision

Published on: 30 Nov, 2016
Updated on: 30 Nov, 2016
Guildford Park Road car park development - multi-storey car park, eastern elevation feature

Guildford Park Road car park development – multi-storey car park, part of the eastern elevation

From Daniel Brayfield

Member of the Guildford Park Avenue Residents’ Association

I was disappointed with the decision taken by Guildford Borough Council (GBC) with regard to the Guildford Park Road car park development.

Firstly, as a local resident, I would like to make it clear that I and all of the residents I have had contact with from both Guildford Park Avenue and Rupert Road do not have any issue whatsoever with building housing on the proposed site. In fact, I would go even further and say most of us would prefer for more residential dwellings than currently planned to be built on this site.

However residents from both locations do have significant concerns about the multi-storey car park, and the relevant policies and guidance which appears to have been ignored by GBC’s planning committee.

With regard to the car park itself, as I highlighted in my objection speech at the meeting, the following policies all from the local plan apply, but appear to have been completely ignored by the planning committee, without any stated reason:

  • Policy M2 long stay parking within Guildford town centre – planning permission will not be given for additional long stay car parks in the town centre.
  • Section 7.39 The borough council does not wish to see any increases in long stay car parking provision in the town centre. This reflects the constraints on capacity of the highway that exist and the wider policy objectives of promoting a reduction in the reliance on the car, and encouraging alternatives to the car for journeys into the town centre.
  • Policy G1 (3) Protection of amenities enjoyed by occupants of buildings The amenities enjoyed by occupants of buildings are protected from unneighbourly development in terms of privacy, access to sunlight and daylight, noise, vibration, pollution, dust and smell.

Given the above statements, and the fact Guildford has four park and ride schemes located at each compass point around the town, why is the council not encouraging the use of these schemes, rather than building a 5½ storey car park in the middle of a residential area?

During the meeting  Cllr Susan Parker made the statement, “I think that the scale of the terraced housing and the size of the garden plots is very much commensurate with the adjacent properties and personally, I would rather have a garden and a house at the bottom of my garden than a public car park.”

I wonder if the councillor herself has seen the irony in making this statement, and then a few minutes later voting to approve the construction of a multi-storey car park at the end of, or beside many Rupert Road and Guildford Park Avenue gardens?

Guildford Park Road car park development - multi-storey car park, southern elevation

Guildford Park Road car park development – multi-storey car park, southern elevation

The other point presented during my objection was with regards to ground stability. The following two statements  are taken directly from government planning guidelines:

  • If land stability could be an issue, developers should seek appropriate technical and environmental expert advice to assess the likely consequences of proposed developments on sites where subsidence, landslides and ground compression is known or suspected.
  • A preliminary assessment of ground instability should be carried out at the earliest possible stage before a detailed planning application is prepared.

Unfortunately, at this time, there is no evidence of any land stability assessment having been conducted. Anyone familiar with the area will know that there is a considerable elevation difference between Guildford Park Avenue, and the proposed development site, the ground consists of a clay based soil, and that there is a driven sheet pile retaining wall in place, protecting the properties in Guildford Park Avenue.

Any activity to demolish the garages and dig foundations for the proposed infrastructure would certainly cause some disturbance to the current arrangement, and presents a very real risk of instability and subsidence.

The full effects, risks and mitigations are completely unknown, as the required assessment has not been carried out. I am sure everyone would agree, it is not unreasonable for local residents to seek reassurance that their homes will not be in danger of falling down or suffering significant structural damage as a result of the proposed development.

I was particularly upset that when the above point was made during the meeting, GBC’s planning development manager advised the councillors to refer to a condition relating to the finished floor levels and heights of the proposed buildings, rather than any kind of stability assessment of the site and surrounding areas.

The advice seems to me incorrect and it further erodes confidence that the planning application is being properly handled.


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