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Letter: Welcome to Woking-on-the-Wey!

Published on: 14 Apr, 2022
Updated on: 14 Apr, 2022

From: Richard Mills

vice-chair of Guildford Town Centre Conservatives

In the latest newsletter for their supporters, the Residents for Guildford & Villages (R4GV) claim that their proposed redevelopment of North Street will be “wonderful”, “an exciting new neighbourhood to help take the pressure off the green belt”.

By now, Guildford residents can be relied upon to discount the hype and hyperbole (and in the case of the reference to the green belt, the sheer deception) that has become the R4GV’s defining characteristic, but it is important that this should not discourage them from reflecting hard on the implications of the proposals.

This relatively small and congested area is now, it seems, to accommodate no less than 500 new dwellings, in addition to ground-floor retail and commercial development and parking for 200 vehicles.

Even with the addition of a few “pocket squares”, the novel concept that is the principal contribution of work on the Master Plan so far, this would surely result in a stifling intensity of development and unit sizes which would, in practice, restrict takers to couples and transient single people.

Yet, it seems, R4GV has once more found a solution, albeit one on which they have so far shown an uncharacteristic reticence. As their consultants dryly observe on page 51 of the Guildford Town Centre: Stage 1 Strategic Spatial Masterplan Report: “…the new developments at Guildford Station and the upcoming North Street Redevelopment are setting a new benchmark for building heights in Guildford Town Centre. They range up to 12 stories…”

Welcome to Woking on the Wey!

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test 6 Responses to Letter: Welcome to Woking-on-the-Wey!

  1. Howard Smith Reply

    April 14, 2022 at 1:32 pm

    Richard Mills must be in early rehearsal for panto season. If there’s anyone responsible for the height of buildings in Guildford reaching Woking proportions it is the last Tory administration and their Solum site debacle.

    No one is more critical of the R4GV’s plans than me, but Mr Mills really needs to be in costume for these far-fetched claims.

    Howard Smith is vice-chair of Guildford Labour

  2. Stuart Barnes Reply

    April 14, 2022 at 2:13 pm

    12 stories in Guildford. They must be mad!

  3. Mark Stamp Reply

    April 14, 2022 at 6:49 pm

    What is the Conservative’s alternative? Just leave the area desolate from the failed “Pop up Village” project and keep a bus station that has been neglected for far too long under previous administrations?

  4. Ben Paton Reply

    April 15, 2022 at 8:00 am

    Woking-on-Wey! Shock horror.

    Isn’t this just a vacuous slogan? A comforting appeal to local prejudice? A partisan statement that my football team/town/church/whatever, is better than yours?

    Can the Guildford Conservatives make good policy proposals rather than superficial slogans?

    Are they big enough to admit that the Local Plan that they forced on the borough just a couple of weeks before they lost the last election was a nasty piece of work?

    This is the party of Cllrs Mansbridge and Juneja, Spooner and Furniss.

    If this is all that the Guildford Conservatives have to offer it is no wonder they went from being the largest party on the council to almost the smallest.

  5. H Trevor Jones Reply

    April 15, 2022 at 2:18 pm

    I’ve not seen the details but the principle of housing lots of people in the town centre, who hopefully won’t need to run their own motor cars, sounds a pretty sensible idea. It’s good environmentally. The residents would have just a short walk to go shopping or go to the railway and bus stations for going anywhere else.

    Thinking of views from the Hog’s Back, Stag Hill and Pewley Down or the famous view from the High Street past the clock to the Hogs Back or views from the castle, I also don’t believe the proposed heights will destroy any major view of our town or from the town.

    Have I missed something?

  6. Calum Shaw Reply

    April 15, 2022 at 10:15 pm

    This really doesn’t paint the Guildford Conservatives in a good light.

    They should stop trying to score points, especially when the arguments bear no relation to reality, and we don’t even know what this development’s going to look like yet.

    Firstly, I don’t think that the development design is anything to do with the current council. The whole thing will go through the normal channels and scrutiny. Why suggest the council is undertaking the development?

    Secondly, why suggest that the proposed development is excessive by many measures with no analysis versus reality? This is a pretty NIMBY approach. In reality, high-density developments have great advantages and are needed. 64 per cent of UK households comprise only one or two people (2011 census) and yet only 20 per cent of England’s housing stock is flats (English Housing Survey home report 2010). So we do need the type of housing that is proposed.

    The reality is that high-density developments can make a very positive difference to a town. It can create vibrancy and a bustling, economically resilient, place.

    What it looks like architecturally will have to be seen. Something more sympathetic to Guildford’s history would be better than a Friary-style block. But we’ll have to wait to see the detail here.

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