Fringe Box



North Street Planning Appeal Continues Despite Expectation of Withdrawal

Published on: 23 Nov, 2023
Updated on: 25 Nov, 2023

Friary Quarter, North Street

By Martin Giles

An appeal against refusal of planning permission for the first version of the controversial North Street redevelopment scheme is still proceeding despite planning permission being granted for a modified scheme in October.

The appeal hearing is scheduled to commence in just two weeks.

It was believed that St Edward would withdraw its appeal if the second scheme was approved but it says that as approval was conditional on agreement with Guildford Borough Council of associated Section 106 compensatory payments, it has yet to be formally granted.

Jack Nicholson speaking at St Edward’s public presentation of the North Street scheme at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre in September.

Jack Nicholson, St Edward’s land and development director, said: “Following the resolution to grant at the planning committee on 11th October we are working hard to finalise the Section 106 agreement with GBC and SCC. Without this legal agreement in place we do not have a planning permission.

“We hope to have this completed in the next week, at which point we will withdraw the appeal, ahead of the inquiry starting on 8th December.”

Some observers suspect that continuing the appeal has given more strength to St Edward’s position in the S106 negotiations and while the threat of the appeal remained GBC, despite its parlous financial state, has had to spend thousands of pounds to prepare its defence.

A spokesperson for GBC said: “Whilst St Edward originally said it would withdraw the appeal on North Street as soon as committee had agreed to grant planning permission, this has not yet happened.

“As a result, the council has begun to incur costs with defending the original decision. At this point in time, it is not possible to say how much has been spent to date on preparing for this appeal.”

But the spokesperson agreed that the Section 106 negotiations were “nearing a conclusion”.

Alistair Smith, chair of the Guildford Society.

Alistair Smith, chair of the Guildford Society, which has been keenly observing progress of the North Street scheme, commented: “The failure by St Edward to withdraw the appeal for the original North St Scheme is legally correct in that planning permission is not granted until Section 106 agreements and planning conditions are agreed.

“St Edward did give the impression that once the Planning Committee had agreed the revised scheme that they would delay or withdraw the appeal for the original scheme.

“On large complex sites a Section 106 can take several months to finalise and agree, eg St Mary’s/ Debenhams took about 5-6 months. The North Street scheme is attempting the same exercise in approximately six weeks!   A concern must be that in attempting to agree a Section 106 to avoid the appeal starting on the 8th December, that complex agreements are not drafted correctly or missed and the that the population of Guildford will fail to gain the benefits proposed.

“It is noted that both St Edwards and GBC have lodged major new documents on the appeal website (ref 22/P/01336/APL) and presumably must now be briefing barristers and expert witnesses to represent the parties at the appeal. Costs will be rising fast.”

“There does appear to be a failure of trust between GBC and St Edward which doesn’t provide confidence that St Edward will be a ‘good citizen’ during the development of the site.”

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Responses to North Street Planning Appeal Continues Despite Expectation of Withdrawal

  1. Robert Pidgeon Reply

    November 24, 2023 at 9:42 am

    To be clear. St Edward agreed to withdraw the appeal for the original scheme if planning consent was granted for the revised scheme. However, whilst the application for the revised scheme was approved at committee, until such time the section 106 Agreement is completed and signed by both parties, they have no valid planning consent.

    The appeal will be withdrawn once the section 106 agreement has been completed and consent granted.

  2. Mark Stamp Reply

    November 24, 2023 at 11:08 am

    I have always been in favour of the scheme but not withdrawing the appeal is dishonest. I have just reviewed the webinar from June where St Edward said “if we achieve a positive result at planning committee, we will withdraw the appeal”.

    The planning committee result would always have been contingent on section 106 negotiations and also fulfilling other requirements before commencing work. They also said that if planning was granted in October, they would expect Section 106 negotiations to be complete by February so a December conclusion does seem unlikely.

    The breaking of these promises so early in the process makes me sceptical of some of the other promises. Notably on affordable housing and the sequencing of the work to prioritise the North Street pedestrianisation and the bus station.

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