Fringe Box



Letter: Why We Are Challenging The Waitrose Planning Permission

Published on: 4 Aug, 2013
Updated on: 5 Aug, 2013

Waitroselet1From Bill Stokoe

Guildford Vision Group (Steering Group)

We were asked recently by a newcomer to Guildford to explain, in words of one syllable, why we were challenging the foodstore permission on the Bellerby site. Here is a slightly expanded reply, which we think other critics of our activity might like to see:

  • GVG wants to see development in the town centre
  • That could include a 2000 sq m food store
  • Waitrose would be great
  • Bellerby, owned by the council (GBC), was long designated for housing
  • But GBC allowed the 2007 permission for 75 houses to lapse in 2010
  • The site had been dormant many years; long before GVG formed in May 2012
  • Guildford urgently needs housing that workers and families can afford
  • Bellerby can accommodate much more than 75 houses; 200+ is possible
  • Losing housing on Bellerby threatens Green Belt land as we need the numbers
  • Lack of housing also holds back Guildford’s growth, as surveys show and GBC knows
  • GBC redesignated the site from sustainable housing to a foodstore
  • GBC used an inappropriate interpretation of planning rules at Bellerby
  • That is what GVG is questioning via judicial review (JR)
  • The interpretation also creates a precedent that eager developers will note
  • The scheme means the loss of a popular, busy subway nearby
  • It’s much used by an adjoining primary school’s kids & mums
  • They will have to use a new, traffic light crossing. Think Debenhams
  • York Rd is busy; even Waitrose & Surrey CC concede that
  • Up to 90 cars could be queueing up York Rd at peaks times
  • Do 168 surface parking spaces sit well alongside GBC’s ‘Park & Ride’ policy?
  • Congestion already gridlocks key places; GBC knows it holds back Guildford’s growth
  • The gyratory, into/out of which York Rd feeds, can be dreadful
  • The Waitrose architecture looks pretty grim next to a Conservation Area
  • The foodstore brought 159 separate objectors vs 102 pro
  • In the 3 nearest wards, 120 objected vs 52 for. Overwhelming support?
  • GBC plans to develop up to 60,000 sq m of new retail space in North St
  • A 2,000 sq m foodstore could be easily included; UK policy says it should go there
  • Can’t John Lewis include a Waitrose in its North St store scheme?
  • GBC’s advisors recommend a major bus interchange at Leapale Road
  • Waitrose HGVs will thus tangle with manoeuvring buses in Leapale Road
  • GBC has stated aims to remove or reduce traffic in North Street
  • The HGVs have to use North St; they will thus run into (over?) pedestrians
  • Does that seem like great planning?
  • But the JR judges the planning process/procedures of GBC, not the scheme
  • An oral hearing will allow us to better articulate our reasoning
  • But GVG recognises its course is expensive and not risk-free
  • GVG remains open to discussions and have initiated proposals on a regular basis
  • GVG’s objectives are unchanged; it wants a proper Masterplan for the town
  • Over several decades, planning in Guildford has been piecemeal
  • The foodstore consent is the latest in a long line of such piecemeal schemes
  • There is little or no thought or action on improving supporting infrastructure
  • Waitrose will not be paying for any alleviation. GBC keeps all the cash
  • Pedestrians, and cyclists, get a poor deal in Guildford’s centre
  • Bad planning has left the riverside area desolate and underused as a public amenity
  • The town needs a Masterplan to plot its future. Simples, as they say.

Don’t forget to express your view by voting in the Dragon Poll to the right of this article.


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