Fringe Box



Letter: The North Street Ship Has Sailed

Published on: 9 Sep, 2023
Updated on: 9 Sep, 2023

Model of the proposed North Street development refused by GBC’s Planning Committee in January.

From Ben Paton

Mr Kendall in his letter We Need Exceptional Architecture for the North Street Site may be right. After all, the proposed buildings are all steel-framed cubes in which the windows on every floor look the same size. It could have been better than a collection of boxes with different brick faces.

The trouble is this:

  1. the site owner is in the driving seat. Its motive is profit not beauty;
  2. the borough council must approve planning applications that comply with the law;
  3. the developer states that its plans are lawful and should be approved – and has gone to appeal.

The developer has a gun to the heads of GBC’s Planning Committee members – approve our “new improved version” or get the version [pictured] that you refused earlier.

Either way, the ship has sailed.

The combination of a dysfunctional planning system and lack of local leadership allows developers to run rings around local residents. They make their profits despite what economists call “negative externalities”.

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Responses to Letter: The North Street Ship Has Sailed

  1. Roger Kendall Reply

    September 9, 2023 at 10:57 pm

    Ben Paton may well be right but if he is, it is a terrible indication of the civic pride we have in our town.

    There are hundreds of listed buildings in Guildford town centre. Where are the Guildfordians who care about the town, about our history, and the quality of life. Surely there are cleverer people than me who care.

    Future generations will rue the day this development was built just as we look back on the mistakes of the sixties that messed up so many town centres.

    • Ben Paton Reply

      September 10, 2023 at 12:56 pm

      “Where are the Guildfordians who care about the town, about our history, and the quality of life.”

      This is a question for the party that had the largest share of seats in the last borough council and now has a majority.

      The Lib Dems have, in effect, won the election on the promise that they will “do something” about the North Street development.

      But what?

  2. John Perkins Reply

    September 10, 2023 at 9:51 am

    So it would seem that all a developer has to do is submit a ‘legal’ application of something so repulsive that nobody could possibly want it and then follow that with what it really wanted in the first place.

    It’s difficult to imagine a system less able to provide a decent local environment as it relies entirely on the good intentions of a developer concerned only with profit.

  3. Dave Middleton Reply

    September 10, 2023 at 12:45 pm

    To be honest, the proposed buildings as shown above look a lot better that all the ugly buildings etc that surround the site: the Friary Centre, the bus station, the telephone exchange, all immediately come to mind.

    People bemoan the fact that Guildford town centre is dying as a retail centre. Perhaps the couple of thousand-odd people who will live in the development, with their needs and spending money might be enough to save the shops in the town.

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