Fringe Box



Letter: The University Needs to Learn Where the Hog’s Back Is

Published on: 3 Dec, 2013
Updated on: 3 Dec, 2013

Hogs Back LetterFrom Rob Burch

In an interview with Eagle Radio, Greg Melly, Vice-President at the University of Surrey (UniS), says of the university’s proposed ‘garden neighbourhood: “Yes it is close to the Hog’s Back, but we are not building on the Hog’s Back.”

Perhaps UniS should be investing in a new geography department rather than a Vet School, then its senior executives will know exactly where it is that the university is proposing to build over 2,000 houses.

Blackwell Farm is on the Hog’s Back, and so is ChalkPit Farm the adjacent land which its now proposing to build on too.  The council have the same view, referring to the site as ‘land at Blackwell Farm, Hog’s Back in its Issues and Options document.

I could put this down to sloppy journalism, but one of our campaigners spoke to the journalist who reported the story and she was very clear about what Mr Melly had said. I can only assume that UniS knows that the Hog’s Back is a landscape that people want to see preserved, and believes that the only way to push through its money spinning enterprise is to deny its very location.

Mr Melly’s denial is in keeping with the university garden neighbourhood brochure, which depicts a utopian world full of happy, smiling people, who, strangely, do not drive cars. In this ‘new walkable neighbourhood’ the university has not factored in the 3-4,000 extra vehicles which will be joining the congested network on the west side of Guildford; it has also ignored the fact the Guildford’s traffic problems are caused by movements east to west, which the proposed ‘new road access from the A31 to west Guildford’ will do nothing to resolve.

The bottleneck at the A3 roundabouts will simply be exacerbated by the extra volume of traffic generated by the new development and by cars taking rat runs through the new development to add to the congestion.

The choice of images (showing people frolicking through parks and images of lush allotments) would be appropriate if the proposals were to reclaim an industrial site, but not the destruction of iconic landscapes. The university justifies this destruction on the grounds of Guildford’s ‘acute housing need’.

What nonsense! The university itself has capacity to generate at least 2,000 homes by building the student accommodation it has promised at Manor Park (former green belt land), and by developing its 17 hectares of surface level car parking and putting these underground. I know of no excuse for saying we must take green belt land because we have used up vast spaces for open car parking as it was cheap.

Perhaps the most ridiculous claim made by UniS is that it has been carefully planned to ‘protect the Area of Natural Beauty (AONB) that falls within the southern part of the site’. Since when was building a park-and-ride facility adjacent to an AONB, together with a road going right through it, considered to be ‘protecting’ it?

The university’s entire development goes against both Government planning policy and the recent Judicial Review on the Cherkley Court Development in the Leatherhead part of the Surrey Hills AONB.

The whole ‘garden neighbourhood’ brochure from its ridiculous allusion to ‘garden cities’ to the calculated timing of its release, seems designed to dupe the people of Guildford. I hope it’s going to be like the Emperor Who Wore No Clothes, and when one councillor pipes up: ‘The university is taking you for a ride’, all the rest will wake up to that fact. But life isn’t a fairy tale even if the Garden Neighbourhood brochure would have us believe so.

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Responses to Letter: The University Needs to Learn Where the Hog’s Back Is

  1. Jim Allen Reply

    December 4, 2013 at 5:39 pm

    No one ‘in charge’ seems to have got the message yet. Accommodation for 6000 students will free up 2000 low costs houses at present occupied by the students who need to sleep off campus due to lack of student rooms.

    Build the rooms, move the students out of the low cost homes they currently occupy and our housing problem is solved for the next few years.

    Or is that too simple?

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