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Letter: Walnut Tree Close, If Only…

Published on: 20 Aug, 2021
Updated on: 20 Aug, 2021

From: Vanessa Sewell

In response to: Consultation on ‘350 Much Needed New Student Homes’ In Walnut Tree Close Is Underway

It’s such a shame to see these huge structures going up in Walnut Tree Close (WTC). I understand the appeal of building on these brownfield sites but now when you pass by these buildings you feel overpowered and closed in by these sites. It’s literally turned WTC into a corridor.

When you look at them as individual builds they aren’t the most attractive, reminding me of blocky “modern” places of the 80s which have long since been lost to redevelopment. Considering there are homes that have been on the road for 120 years, while removed offices and the like were comparatively youthful builds, I’m curious to see just how long these will remain. When you consider the road as a whole nothing seems to complement anything, the buildings all differ so much it adds to the overbearing and looming feeling.

WTC is renowned for the antisocial behaviour and noise pollution of pedestrians, I truly feel for the families and professionals struggling to live along there, adding even more student housing and at such a vast amount is surely only going to make the challenge even more difficult.

For so many years people along the road called for the area to be more resident considerate and aware but it fell on deaf ears until convenience, money and power seemed to come to the area flushing out many of the businesses to make way for mainly student homes. I feel the original residents are still being neglected and cast aside while space is made for these new builds and an influx of teenagers experiencing their first tastes of adulthood and the “freedom” that comes with leaving the family home.

In respect of the “car-free” living, I think this is a chuck away comment trying to whitewash the reality of living in the town centre. I mean, seriously, look around. How many households don’t have a car these days?

Irrespective of how many of these students bring a car to the area, there will still be people who have cars. Previously built homes along there with the intention of being car-free brought an influx of drivers with them and gradually, but inexorably, the number of car owners crept up making parking even harder than it always has been.

Everyone knows how congested the area gets. Add in more cars, more pedestrians, more cyclists and traffic it is only going to get slower as cars give way to pedestrians crossing, passing cyclists and wait on parking cars.

I really would have liked to have seen more ideas explored for this area and a more cohesive aesthetic. When the station plans are completed, I can’t help but wonder how many people will look back and think “If only…” and “Why didn’t we…?”

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Responses to Letter: Walnut Tree Close, If Only…

  1. Barry Williams Reply

    August 26, 2021 at 10:55 am

    Vanessa Sewell’s final comments will ring a bell with many in the local community with regard to WTC and the Solum developments. She rightly laments “Why didn’t we” and, “If only “.

    However, many local people and groups such as Guildford Vision Group, Guildford Society, GRA Guildford Residents Association did think ahead and came up with workable and sensible ideas that would have provided the WTC area with riverside walks, open space, and much needed social housing for local and key workers as well as alleviating town centre traffic congestion.

    Sadly they were not listened to by those in power when the Local Plan was pushed through, albeit we have to recognise that government planning policy can hinder our local politicians and council officers in their decision making.

    These above mentioned local organisations, GVG, GSoc, GRA and many others including G-BUG (Guildford Bike User Group), GEF (Guildford Environmental Forum) are made up of many unpaid volunteers (from all walks of life and working backgrounds and a wide age range – not all over 60) continue to rationally argue for what they believe will benefit the community both in town and village.

    They may not always get it right but do their best to generate reasoned debate. They are certainly not Nimby’s wishing to see a town preserved in aspic and unlike some recent correspondents do not carp from the sidelines. Instead, they get involved with these local groups and try to do something.

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