Fringe Box



North Street: Approve ‘Smaller, Higher Quality Scheme’ and We Will Withdraw Appeal Says Developer

Published on: 4 Jul, 2023
Updated on: 4 Jul, 2023

Excerpt from the developer’s presentation showing how the height of the tallest building has changed.

By Hugh Coakley

North Street developer St Edward warned last week that if their latest “smaller, higher quality scheme” was not approved by Guildford Borough Council they would build the larger scheme, refused in January, subject to the result of their appeal which they are confident they will win.

An illustration of the tallest building in the latest proposal by St Edward. It is reduced by two storeys and is brick clad.

The options were made clear during a webinar (June 28), attended by 300 people, where St Edward, outlined the changes to their 471 home  and retail proposal for the largely derelict site in North Street.

Their spokesman said: “By resubmitting a revised application, St Edward are providing the community with a choice, not an ultimatum. The other option was to simply appeal the refusal, and build it out if we were successful.

We were urged by various stakeholders to come back to the table and work through the reasons for refusal in a collaborative way, which we have done.”

The two routes to planning approval (excerpt from the webinar presentation). “The appeal is to protect our business against what we felt was not a fair decision” said the developer St Edward in the public webinar.

A reduction of the highest building from 13 to 11 storeys, alteration of the bus station access and a commitment to increase the number of affordable homes including some for social renting, were the salient changes described in the informative 90-minute presentation.

Other changes were an increase in the area given for the “public realm”, “higher quality, more traditional architecture” and a second staircase to comply with the emerging Building Safety Act.

Excerpt from the developer’s webinar.

Reaction to the latest proposals were largely supportive with some reservations on the lack of detail on affordable housing, one of the reasons the plans were refused in the knife edge vote of GBC’s Planning Committee in January 2023.

Cllr George Potter

George Potter (Lib Dem, Burpham), lead for planning, environment and climate change says “Any decision on St Edward’s new proposals will be up to the planning committee to make when the scheme is presented.

“The new application appears to address most of the grounds for refusal in the original scheme although we still wait to see what they are offering with regards to affordable housing allocation within the scheme.”

Angela Richardson MP.

The Conservative group did not respond to our request for a comment but Guildford’s Conservative MP Angela Richardson has been quoted in a councillor’s newsletter as saying: “It is very positive to have a developer in Guildford prepared to listen to concerns and take them on board. I am encouraged at this point by St Edward’s approach and resubmission and look forward to seeing the details of the revised scheme.

“They are recognising that we all have a stake in the town and that people’s views matters – credit where it is due for this.”

Cllr Joss Bigmore

R4GV leader Joss Bigmore (R4GV, Merrow) said they would wait until they saw a detailed application but said: “It is a real shame that the new proposal does not provide for the full pedestrianisation of North Street, allowing buses to access the station via North Street removes a significant planning gain of the scheme, it also loses a public pocket park that was a key feature of the first application.

“The changes to the scheme buildings themselves are not going to change anyone’s mind from their opinion of the first scheme, a small reduction in height of the largest building, compensated by increased heights in the middle of the scheme make for a more homogenous development, similarly the increased use of bricks will please some, although not all.

“It is not a question of being forced to accept the scheme, it is an allocated site in the Conservative adopted Local Plan – the principle of development has been agreed, whether we like or don’t like the application is irrelevant, it is the balancing of harms and benefits considering all relevant policies that will decide which application moves forward.”

Ramsey Nagaty, GGG leader.

Former councillor Ramsey Nagaty, now chair of the Guildford Greenbelt Group said: “GGG raised some concerns at the original planning meeting which  considered the original scheme. Many of these have been addressed, though some only partly, in the new scheme.

“Facilities for passengers and bus staff will be provided but the webinar indicated within the Friary which is not open all the times buses are running. It is hoped access will be possible all the time buses are using the station.

“GGG still think the statement building is too tall but a big building will be needed to make it work from developer’s side. We would also prefer more colonnades in the design.

“GGG reluctantly voted in favour of the previous application as this is a sustainable site, less car dependent and will help re-invigorate the High Street and market. St Edward could just take existing scheme to appeal – and quite probably win, so we are inclined to favour it but would look to see resident’s responses to the consultation are properly considered and seek some further improvements accordingly.”

The Dragon also contacted the Guildford Labour Party for a comment.

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Responses to North Street: Approve ‘Smaller, Higher Quality Scheme’ and We Will Withdraw Appeal Says Developer

  1. Mark Stamp Reply

    July 4, 2023 at 10:34 pm

    The term affordable housing is pretty meaningless in Guildford anyway and will not solve the problems of the current housing market. To do that, we need more social housing, less foreign investment buying up property and more of those at the top of the ladder downsizing.

    Anyway, I’m not sure why The Dragon has bothered asking elected councillors for their opinions, surely only the opinion of one man, who is likely in his video editing lab as we speak, matters?

  2. Jill Howard Reply

    July 15, 2023 at 10:49 am

    All high rise buildings should be banned immediately. What about climate change and pollution?

    Then there foul tasting drinking water cigarettes and vapes left on our streets.

    And fast-food delivered on scooters causing chaos in the bus lanes etc.

    We the taxpayers, Thames Water payers, drivers with cars damaged by potholes, have had enough. Greedy billionaires are causing damage to our beautiful planet.

    Money and greed is everywhere and we are the slaves.

    Please stop!

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