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North Street Developers Say ‘Too Early To Commit To 40% Affordable Housing’

Published on: 17 Dec, 2020
Updated on: 18 Dec, 2020

By Hugh Coakley

North Street developers told The Guildford Dragon NEWS they were not able to say how many houses would be built under the scheme or commit to the 40% affordable housing target required under the Guildford Local Plan.

Aerial view of the North Street site. Click on the images to enlarge them in a new window.

The statement came after an online presentation (on Wednesday, December 16) on the North Street Regeneration project.

Managing director of St Edward, Tom Pocock

Managing director Tom Pocock of St Edward, a joint venture between the main site owners M&G Investments and developers, the Berkeley Group, said: “This is the first stage of a three-stage consultation so it’s too early to say.

“We don’t know yet what we will be building. The number of affordable homes will be subject to the viability of the project.”

The scheme had been envisaged in the 2019 Guildford local plan as mainly retail with “approximately 400 flats”. But it is now “heavily residential, bringing homes into the town centre” said Mr Pocock.

Details of the scheme were revealed in a joint presentation to the public by the developer and Guildford Borough Council (GBC), which owns approximately 20% of the 4.5-acre site.

The programme for the works showed a planning application scheduled for summer 2021 with construction starting in autumn 2022. The new bus station and the first new homes would be delivered by 2025 and project completion expected by 2030.

Mr Pocock was asked about encouraging independent shops in the regeneration. He said that they were looking to “smaller commercial units” due to the downturn in retail activity. “We don’t want to compete with the High Street.”

The bus station will be temporarily moved to the Portsmouth Road car park before being relocated to Leapale Road.

The envisaged layout showed the new location of the bus station next to Leapale Road and a temporary relocation during construction to the Portsmouth Road car park (by the George Abbot pub). Mr Pocock said that they had been in discussions with Surrey County Council who were “supportive of the new location.”

Changes to the road layout are proposed to make North Street one-way and only for buses and taxis.

Other features of the design included closing Commercial Road and Woodbridge Road and making North Street one-way and for buses and taxis only. This, it was said, would make North Street more attractive for pedestrians.

Tom Pocock said that St Edward was committed to sustainability and providing a net gain in biodiversity on all of their sites. “Different routes to heating the homes” including renewable technologies were also under consideration.

The developer, St Edward, set out the context for the heights of the buildings to be proposed for the site.

Lead councillor for Major Projects, John Rigg (R4GV, Holy Trinity) said: “This is an exciting moment for Guildford as we reach the first key milestone in securing a high-quality new quarter for our historic town centre.

Cllr John Rigg

“With their enviable record for delivery, we have confidence in St Edward as the partner to turn these ideas into reality but the scheme needs to be right for Guildford.

“During the next few months, the developer will undertake considerable work to identify the right scheme for the site. This will establish storey heights, the number of homes and the viability, which will facilitate the number of affordable homes.

“This project is a vital part of our Town Centre Masterplan to keep our town thriving and bring some positivity back to Guildford. Our ambition is to make Guildford great for everyone.”

A spokesperson for the developer said they had received “feedback from over 300 people so far.”

The webinar, including the question and answer session with questions from the public can be found at northstreetregeneration.co.uk. A feedback form is available on the website for people to share their ideas and comments on the scheme.

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