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New Plans Being Prepared For Long-awaited Town Centre Regeneration Off North Street

Published on: 19 Feb, 2020
Updated on: 20 Feb, 2020

The long-awaited regeneration of a five-acre site in the centre of Guildford has taken another step forward.

Plan of the site to be redeveloped is ringed in red and lies between North Street, Commercial Road, Woodbridge Road and Leapale Road.

Guildford Borough Council has announced that it is set to bring forward plans for the site that lies between North Street, Commercial Road, Woodbridge Road and Leapale Road, much of it now an unused open space.

The bus station on the west side of Commercial Road is included in the plans.

View from Woodbridge Road looking towards Commercial Road and the bus station. More recently this open space, part of the proposed development, was the site of the ‘pop-up village’.

The plans are being prepared by the council and St Edward Homes. The latter being a joint venture company owned by the Berkeley Group and M&G Real Estate.

The redevelopment, which, the council says, “will be the subject of a full public consultation, is expected to include a new bus station, alongside a network of welcoming public squares and green spaces”.

The open space on the east side of Woodbridge Road across to Leapale Road, within the proposed development.

The council adds: “The new pedestrian and cycle-friendly environment would be well connected with the surrounding town centre and brought to life with biodiverse planting and a mix of shops, bars, cafes and leisure uses.”

It also adds the developers have “a vision to create a new micro-brewery”. This is a nod to the former Friary Meux brewery (closed in 1969) now the site of the Friary Centre and the bus station.

The press release continues: “The rich history of North Street as a farmers’ market will be celebrated through a bespoke and playful public art strategy. The proposals are set to include a mix of new homes, which will include affordable homes for the local community.

A new bus station is included within the plans.

“At the heart of the scheme would be a new bus station, providing a modern and welcoming gateway to the town centre. The road network around the site is also set to be reconfigured to create better conditions for pedestrians and cyclists.

The leader of the council, Cllr Caroline Reeves (Lib Dem, Friary & St Nicolas), said: “Redeveloping this site has been our long-term ambition and working alongside St Edward Homes gives us the opportunity to realise this.

“They will use public engagement and the concept of ‘placemaking’ to ensure the area is inspirational and full of vitality capturing the needs and aspirations of residents, businesses and visitors while reflecting and enhancing our beautifully historic town.

“Their focus on addressing climate change through development aligns with the council’s priorities.”

The site has been earmarked for development before, more than 10 years ago. Then the development was to be called St Dominic Square.

Here are both sides of a flyer that was issued outlining the then plans and asking people for their views. Click on the two images to enlarge.

Please note: the flyer below is of the previous proposal. Since this story has been published (February 20, 2020) two readers have already replied with comments for moderation in which its appears they think these are related to the new plans!

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Responses to New Plans Being Prepared For Long-awaited Town Centre Regeneration Off North Street

  1. Jim Allen Reply

    February 20, 2020 at 10:26 am

    So, no integrated transport scheme planned for Guildford? The car rules supreme.

    Si much for promoting public transpor.

    Me thinks the ‘eco-councillors’ and planners speak with forked tongue.

    When will it sink in to the planners that to get cars out of the town centre buses need to meet the trains.

    If they can’t understand this simple principle we are doomed…

  2. Mike Forster Reply

    February 20, 2020 at 10:53 am

    Good news as this part of town has laid derelict for far too long, but I find it very surprising that proposals for redevelopment should come forward ahead of a master plan for the town centre as a whole.

    Surely a site of this size needs to be considered in the context of the entire town to ensure the Council’s aspirations along with the residents wishes are fully and properly considered.

    Anything less is likely to have serious limitations severely restricting the best possible outcome for the future prosperity of our town.

    • Martin Elliott Reply

      February 21, 2020 at 3:19 pm

      Quite right Mike.

      Yes its a large-ish area, but another bit of piecemeal development, just like the £3.5m + £0.45m being wasted at Bedford ‘Wharf’.

      Town Centre Master Plans have been published as drafts around every 2 years, but never fully developed and adopted.

      No wonder there is no integrated public transport hub or real plan to reduce congestion for current traffic levels.

      If this really is a go-ahead for the development of plans, why the vague descriptions. Surely there is a proper specification even if its yet another outline design – again.

  3. Ray Carlton Reply

    February 21, 2020 at 3:27 pm

    I understand there are suggestions of a 15 storey tower block with up to 850 dwellings in the plan. This would involve an underground car park for the use of residents.

    Anyone who saw the flooded Bedford Road underground car park on Monday would rule that out for a start!

  4. Heidi Fisher Reply

    February 21, 2020 at 4:30 pm

    How is not building a bus station next to Guildford Railway Station letting the car rule?

    I really am struggling to imagine a scenario where someone gets a train into Guildford to then get a bus somewhere else and if it did happen frequently you’d expect that person to be able enough to walk the short distance to where the new bus station is proposed.

    Also there are several bus stops on Guildford Park Road that provide buses to the Hospital and University immediately stopping by the station exit – this works fine.

    In terms of this master plan what exactly are people expecting this mythical document to say – we all know what needs to be done – we’ve known for years – the leaflets for St Dominic’s Square were printed in 1995 from memory and here we are 25 years later with no town centre development.

    Guildford is suffering from the constant procrastination.

    • Jim Allen Reply

      February 26, 2020 at 2:10 pm

      It’s not about the bus station, it is about integrated transport services.

      When a person gets off the train to travel home, they do not want to walk 700m in the wet to find if a bus may or may not be there. Then only to walk back to the taxi rank outside the railway station.

      If a person is returning from holiday and gets off the train, they don’t want to walk any distance dragging 23kg suitcases and two tired children to a bus stop, when a taxi is waiting outside the railway station to take them home.

      The concept of having buses arriving at the railway station five minutes before a train and departing five minutes after it leaves to return to outlying villages is only a strange concept in the UK. Anywhere else in the world it is standard practice.

      The UK is the only place in the world a bus needs to wait for its passengers.

  5. Guy Sutlieff Reply

    February 24, 2020 at 3:45 pm

    I tend to agree with Ms Fisher here, I don’t really see what huge advantage there is to the commerce of Guildford in having a bus station near the train station.

    What you really need is to have a better one where it is now, handy for people who might want to actually go shopping and spend money in Guildford.

    We need to encourage people into our town, not move buses further away.

    • Jim Allen Reply

      March 9, 2020 at 10:01 am

      It’s not about moving buses ‘further away’ to the train station – nor is it about ‘commerce’. It is about transport integration.

      Where the bus pulls up from in a town centre is of no relevance as long as it arrives at the bus stop at the time indicated and is going to where you want to go.

      What is relevant in this discussion is if you live say five miles from a railway station in a Village you can catch a bus (not use a car) which arrives at a railway station in time for you to walk to the train without getting soaking wet and continue your journey and when you get off the train you don’t have to walk half a mile in the rain to see if a bus is there to take you home. This simple concept has existed since buses and trains were invented.

      If anyone can’t understand this concept, you haven’t travelled by bus and train as a combined journey or carried or wheeled a suitcase in Guildford between train and bus. This clearly explains why the train station has so many car parking spaces and no one understands the simple concept of bus arrives before train, train leaves before bus.

      It also means the car rules!

  6. John Green Reply

    February 26, 2020 at 3:34 pm

    Large retail town centres are dead, online shopping is here to stay.

    Come on Guildford let’s have a proper mixed development with a lot more town centre housing.

    That’s what the town really needs.

  7. Steve Grove Reply

    March 8, 2020 at 12:42 pm

    Wherever the bus station is sited, it needs to be a vast improvement on the cesspit that is the current bus station – dirty, ill-planned, little seating and nowhere to queue without blocking the pathway through to other buses.

    Whoever designs the new bus station cannot do a worse job than what already exists!

  8. David Bott Reply

    March 11, 2020 at 12:19 pm

    The new bus station should be next to the railway station to promote the use of public transport.

    Transferring between the two modes of transport should be seamless, not to expect users to walk a considerable distance, possibly with heavy bags.

    Both areas are due to be redeveloped so now is the perfect opportunity.

    Simply saying that they are different projects should not be given as a stopper, but a problem to be overcome.

    • Jim Allen Reply

      March 14, 2020 at 7:34 pm

      Totally agree.

      I have just looked at the transport documents on Guildford Borough Council’s website.

      Out of over 1,500 pages the word integration appears only eight times and not once associated with train and bus.

      We have integrated paths for cyclists and pedestrians, and speed limits are integrated with road use.

      Sadly, no one understands I don’t want to get wet when travelling.

  9. Bibhas Neogi Reply

    March 14, 2020 at 7:45 am

    Please see my various comments on the relocation of the bus station on Bedford Road car park site and proposed Walnut Bridge by searching this website for my name. or my own website ‘revamp Guildford gyratory’

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