Fringe Box



New Proposal for Stag Hill Development ‘Hardly Differs’ from Rejected Scheme

Published on: 2 Oct, 2021
Updated on: 5 Oct, 2021

By Hugh Coakley

The latest plans for a 124 home proposal on the southern and eastern sides of Stag Hill, the site of Guildford Cathedral, have been revealed by developers. The Guildford Local Plan allows for “approximately” 100 homes for “land at the cathedral” over the plan period.

Developer Vivid Homes and Guildford Cathedral showed their proposal in an online presentation to nearly 50 people on September 23.

Friends of Stag Hill (FOSH), who oppose the scheme, said it “hardly differed” from the previously rejected scheme and “disregards the Local Plan”.

Artist’s impression of houses on the new 124 home proposal on Stag Hill by Vivid Homes and Guildford Cathedral.

A planning application was said to be ready for submission on September 30 but this appears to have been delayed. Construction will take 18 months with the project complete by 2023.

The presentation by the Hampshire based Vivid Homes, with Matt O’Grady, CEO of Guildford Cathedral and members of the design team, showed a mix of 111 houses and flats with an additional 13 houses for cathedral staff. The ambition was to have a development of the “highest quality possible” which was “integrated into the surroundings, both physically and culturally”.

The developer said they will achieve the carbon reductions required by GBC planning policies. Twelve of the 37 buildings would have “green roofs” but no commitment was made to use renewable heating for the homes.

A spokesperson for the developer said options “may include gas boilers with photovoltaic panels and/or the use of air-source heat pumps or other emerging technologies”.

Masterplan for the proposed housing at Stag Hill.

Forty-four of the non-cathedral staff houses (40%) will be classed as affordable, 80% of which for rent and the remainder for shared ownership.

The development was said to “safeguard the long-term future” of the cathedral by an annual endowment financed from the sale of land to Vivid.

A proposal by the cathedral for 134 houses was rejected by Guildford planners in 2017. The Bishop of Guildford had said then the cathedral faced probable closure if the development wasn’t approved but this was later played down by Dean Dianna Gwilliams in an interview with The Dragon.

A view of Guildford Cathedral seen from The Mount in 2017. Friends of Stag Hill say the new homes would be “carbuncles” on the landscape.

Peter Watts, a spokesperson for Friends of Stag Hill (FOSH), was scathing. He said the plans “…hardly differ from the previous set which failed to gain planning permission.

“Whilst the cathedral says the development is all about community benefits, their proposals do not reflect this.”

Excerpt from the Vivid / cathedral presentation showing a comparison between the rejected 2017 application for 134 houses and the current proposal for 124.

He added the views towards the cathedral heritage site would contain “carbuncles on the landscape” and there would be “hundreds of car trips directly into an already congested and under-provided area”.

He also claimed the development “disregards the Guildford Local Plan”, with a “24% increase in the volume of housing”. The developer said the “local plan allocates circa 100 homes to this site as an approximate guide and does not take into account the size or type of homes that would be suitable”.

Local councillors Jon Askew, David Goodwin and Will Salmon (Lib Dem) said they would wait for the application to be submitted but they had concerns about the access road to the site.

They said the “main cathedral access route should be used since the infrastructure, including the large roundabout, is already in place”. They also were concerned about the “ancient hedgerow” on the site.

See also Cathedral Learns Lessons From 2017 Rejection But Objectors Not Convinced

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Responses to New Proposal for Stag Hill Development ‘Hardly Differs’ from Rejected Scheme

  1. John Ferns Reply

    October 2, 2021 at 8:34 pm

    In his capacity as a planning committee member and as a directly affected ward councillor, I will look forward to watching how Cllr Askew casts his vote at the inevitable application coming before the committee. It has not gone unnoticed that up till now, he has solidly voted in favour of any development site affecting Ash (and for the majority, if not all, of any Green Belt application) that I have monitored since 2020.

    Local residents concerns about highways access have hitherto counted for nothing if Surrey Highways say there is no problem, so it should be expected that he will vote to approve this application, especially as it comes with the promise of very much needed (40%) affordable homes within the very heart of Guildford borough.

    Don’t hold your breath, Stag Hill residents.

  2. Esther Parry (Mrs) Reply

    October 7, 2021 at 11:09 am

    It’s a shame the artist impression picture used in this article is not of the main east-side block of apartments which will affect the most people and affect the far-reaching views from all over Guildford.

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