Fringe Box



Letter: When Will Demolition of the Debenham’s Building Commence?

Published on: 6 Mar, 2023
Updated on: 6 Mar, 2023

From: Bibhas Neogi

In response to: comment posted on St Mary’s Wharf Developer Bows to Pressure By Reducing Proposed Building Height Again

I thank The Dragon team for contacting Native Land and getting information on the state of progress on this scheme.

It is generally expected that when such a major scheme gets Planning Approval, the developer would be keen to start work straight away. So why is this delay in satisfying pre-commencement conditions?

Are there any difficulties that the developer is unable to resolve? For instance, are the site constraints proving problematic in finding a demolition contractor willing to take on the job? Are traffic management proposals unacceptable to the Highway Authority because of the congestion, delay and disruption that would be caused?

In the planning process it is stated: “Demolition was included in the amended definition of ‘building operations’ in section 55(1A)(a) the Town and Country Planning Act 1990 (the 1990 Act)… Where the demolition of one or more buildings is required as part of a redevelopment for which planning permission is sought, the developer should include details of the demolition in his application for planning permission. These details should be considered by the local planning authority along with other aspects of the redevelopment.”

Hadn’t details of demolition been included in the Planning Application and agreed before approval was granted? Similarly, weren’t traffic management proposals sorted out and accepted by Surrey Highways before GBC could grant approval? If these were not included in the Planning Application, how was it right for GBC to approve it?

In my previous comments, I mentioned that these issues might make the job of demolition and safe working adjacent to a busy road difficult.

I hope the developer is able to resolve these issues and start work soon.

If the difficulties are insurmountable, would it be a case for back to the drawing board or even a major change in thinking and would they even go for a re-purposed building?

A re-purposed building would, of course, require much less but manageable demolition and perhaps modest upward extensions of a couple of stories for residential purposes.

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Responses to Letter: When Will Demolition of the Debenham’s Building Commence?

  1. Bibhas Neogi Reply

    April 12, 2024 at 10:09 am

    No answers to my questions have emerged from the councils or developers.

    It has been reported last week that Native Land has started work and clearing the inside of the building. It would be reassuring to know that the method for demolition of the building and traffic management required for plants and lorries to access the site have been agreed with both the Surrey and Guildford Councils.

    There is an interesting article in the April 2024 Journal of The Structural Engineer about re-using concrete slabs cut out from buildings being demolished to reduce carbon emission. There is a photo of the journal cover showing how slabs cut out are being lifted up and it can be viewed by searching the Internet.

    Does Native Land have any idea for re-using materials from the demolition work?

  2. David Smith Reply

    April 13, 2024 at 6:55 am

    There is a Construction Management Plan ref 23/D/00169/3 on Guildford planning website – this sets out how they plan to manage demolition and construction traffic.

    • Bibhas Neogi Reply

      April 13, 2024 at 2:19 pm

      I wish to thank David Smith for the reference to the Management Plan. It was not easy to find but I managed it eventually.

      It seems that the A281 northbound traffic would be restricted to one lane throughout the demolition process and possibly during the rest of the construction period. It might also require stopping traffic altogether when plants and lorries need to reverse into the site and emerge back on to the road.

      The A281 is congested during peak periods anyway and further constraints would likely to cause long delays and might even cause a gridlock when traffic tails back affecting the gyratory.

      Using Quarry Street as a diversion of southbound traffic during daytime might be a way to avert a gridlock. I wonder whether Surrey Highways has considered this. Some information on the proposed traffic management would be helpful for the motorists to plan their journeys.

      I have yet to find out how the actual demolition will be carried out. A Tower crane has been proposed to be erected in the middle of the roof of the existing building roughly in the same place when the original construction was carried out using a similar method. It indicates to me that pieces of the slabs and columns would be cut and lifted out and lowered on to the skips or flatbed lorries in the two designated areas.

      It would be overall a slow and expensive process but assuming Native Land has taken all the issues into account, I hope it would be a successful outcome.

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