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North Street Planning Application to be Submitted Next Month

Published on: 25 Jun, 2022
Updated on: 24 Jun, 2022

Drawing showing computer graphic for the North Street regeneration project. Image St Edward

By Emily Coady-Stemp

local democracy reporter

The latest plans for Guildford town centre’s regeneration are set to be unveiled next month at the ninth time of trying.

A planning application is due to be submitted by developers in July which would include new homes, a new bus station and the pedestrianisation of North Street.

Cllr John Rigg

Cllr John Rigg (R4GV, Holy Trinity) told a meeting of GBC’s Executive on Thursday (June 23) that all councillors would need to get behind the project to help it succeed.

He said: “I just hope that we can try and make some progress rather than finding obstacles for the progress.

“We’ve had 30 years and eight failed schemes on this site. We’ve really got to do better this time if we can.”

In March, the council exchanged contracts with the developer, St Edward, for a part of land it owned within the North Street development site.

Cllr Rigg explained that the council had two separate roles in the application, in that it sold the land for the site, but also would make a decision on the planning application when it came forward.

The plans will include the widening of Leapale Road and a single entrance and exit to the north of the bus station, which developers say would remove southbound buses from the town’s gyratory.

Cllr Rigg’s party colleague Cllr Tony Rooth (R4GV, Pilgrims) asked several questions on the forthcoming application, which has been out for public consultation on two occasions.

He said he was a regular bus user and had visited the bus station three times that day.

Cllr Tony Rooth

Cllr Rooth said: “And what a wonderful place it isn’t. It clearly needs an awful lot of work to make it acceptable to the public, bus users and bus operators alike.”

He asked for the “professional calculations” that had been made around changing the entrance and exit to the bus station which he called a “major change” that could impact on congestion and bus routes in the town.

Cllr Rigg said he was not ready or able to answer the “tome of questions” put forward by Cllr Rooth and said nothing was being approved in the meeting, but councillors were being asked to give authority for part of the plans to be approved as part of the contract.

Meeting documents stated: “Under the terms of the sale contract with the developer the council as landowner needs to approve (or reject with reasons) detailed plans and specifications for [the bus station and the pedestrianisation] before a planning application is submitted.

“At which time the local planning authority will consider the detailed design and specification as part of the planning process.”

Cllr John Redpath

Councillor John Redpath (R4GV, Holy Trinity) pointed out that the plans had been discussed at a now-disbanded working group, and that consultees including Thames Water, Surrey County Council, bus companies and others would have a chance to respond to the planning application when it was submitted.

He added: “Everyone from the Pope to Peppa Pig, including Cllr Rooth, will be able to put in his comments of any concerns that he might have at that stage. And that will all be a totally open and transparent process.”

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Responses to North Street Planning Application to be Submitted Next Month

  1. Jim Allen Reply

    June 25, 2022 at 8:26 am

    Does anyone really think any changes would be made if justified planning concerns were expressed?

    The decision to go ahead with the, as yet unseen, planning documents has already been made.

  2. Peta Malthouse Reply

    June 25, 2022 at 8:19 pm

    In reply to Mr Allen, reading the article the agreement sought was for outline approval and only as landowner, so that detailed plans can be drawn up for approval by GBC under their role as planning authority.

    I don’t have a problem with the process. Are different councillors to be involved on each decision? Or does conflict not arise? It’s highly possible it doesn’t.

  3. Richard Mills Reply

    June 25, 2022 at 8:24 pm

    Sadly, Jim Allen is quite right.

    The members of the committee that negotiated the land sale and the conditions attached to it have clearly prejudiced their role in respect of any subsequent adjudication on the proposal.

    Those members, and the members of the committee that authorised the financial arrangements, must now recuse themselves from any role in determining the planning application.

    Richard Mills is vice-chair of Guildford Town Centre Conservatives.

  4. Bibhas Neogi Reply

    July 8, 2022 at 9:28 am

    Cllr Rooth raised a very important question. He asked for the “professional calculations” that had been made around changing the entrance and exit to the bus station which he called a “major change” that could impact on congestion and bus routes in the town.

    In reply, Cllr Rigg said he was not ready or able to answer.

    It would be very useful when Cllr Rigg has the answer that he shares it with the public.

    Since Surrey County Council is responsible for overseeing the running of buses, shouldn’t that authority carry out a trial of north-in, north-out movement from the current bus station?

    Commercial Road would be required to be closed at its southern end and buses from North Street would instead use Woodbridge Road to enter the bus station as would all buses from other routes, using the northern end of Commercial Road.

    The effect of this proposed major change on running of buses and on the traffic could then be assessed and taken into account in processing the Planning Application if the developer wishes to submit his Application as planned and not wait for this trial.

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