Fringe Box



Council Executive To Decide On North Street Recommendation

Published on: 17 Apr, 2013
Updated on: 18 Apr, 2013

N St Exps of Int cropped 470The Guildford Borough Council’s Executive will decide on Thursday evening (April 18), in a meeting open to the public, whether or not to accept an evaluation committee’s decision to appoint Lend Lease as its preferred development partner for North Street.

A report presenting the recommendation has been published ahead of the meeting. It describes the background, legal and financial implications and the risks of the proposed development programme.

It states: “The opportunity to secure the lasting regeneration of one of the most significant town centre sites is a long held ambition for the council and the wider community.”

Outlining the selection process, the report describes how the original eight companies that expressed an interest in taking part in the initiative were whittled down to a short-list of three in November last year.

An evaluation panel, comprising the lead councillor for the town centre, James Palmer, and relevant  ward councillors, was then responsible for the selection process and heard presentations and received submissions from the three shortlisted companies who also attended several stake holder events including meetings with the Guildford Vision Group, local bus companies and Surrey County Council highways officers. A briefing event for all councillors was held in January.

…there was, in reality, very little to choose between them… GBC Report

Reference site visits to see other developments that the shortlisted firms were responsible for were undertaken including: Princesshay in Exeter (Land Securities), Touchwood in Solihull (Lend Lease) and Southgate in Bath (Queensberry).

Written proposals were submitted by February 1. The report states: “The quality of the submissions from the shortlisted firms was very high, there was, in reality, very little to choose between them…”

The evaluation panel met further in February and March and an evaluation matrix was completed. The council has recently confirmed that the completed matrix is regarded as commercially sensitive and is not being published.

The panel considered the following key factors:

  • Understanding the council’s development and strategic objectives
  • Relevant retail-led urban development experience and scheme delivery
  • Understanding and response to transport and connectivity issues
  • Evidence of best consideration and value for money
  • Commitment to reimburse all reasonable costs incurred by the council
  • Commitment to stakeholder engagement and public participation

Guildford residents concerned with the retention of the bus station in its current location might be concerned to read a reference to a 2010 report which explained that: “the location of the existing bus station within the core retail area severely limits the development of this major site.”

Reference was also made to earlier reports that “confirmed the growing need to increase the amount of new retail floor space in the town centre to meet the identified demands up to 2026.” This is a conclusion that has been challenged by some who believe that the future demand for retail space is uncertain, especially because of increased internet shopping. Others are worried that more retailing will mean more traffic on already congested roads.

The need for ‘stakeholder engagement’ is stressed in several places within the report. An observation was: “All three firms demonstrated a strong ethos of engagement with Lend Lease offering a dedicated team to work with the council and stakeholders.”

The evaluation panel was particularly persuaded, the report says, “…by the flexibility demonstrated by Lend Lease and the willingness to meet the council’s objectives and those of the wider community.”

However, the assessment was based on theoretical proposals in response to an outline briefs set by the council and: “It was also made clear from the outset that discussions in respect of any financial proposal would only take place once a scheme had been designed…”

So far, Guildford Borough Council has spent just over half of the £500,000 it put aside for the Town Centre Development Strategy. Nearly £50,000 has gone on legal expenses and £175,00 on consultancy fees.

The report concludes: “In the event that the executive accepts the recommendation to appoint Lend Lease as the council’s preferred development partner for the North Street Site, officers will …formalise the partnership.

By approving the recommendation the Executive would also be authorising the Chief Executive, David Hill, in consultation with the Lead Councillor for Town Centre Planning and Transport” to negotiate the details of the proposed masterplan, scheme and the financial arrangements…” He [David Hill] would also be authorised to enter negotiations with the other short-listed firms if agreement [with Lend Lease] has not been reached by June 30.

An outline of expected activity following the selection of Lend Lease is:

  • Co-operation agreement exchange May 2013
  • Engagement with PRUPIM and other landowners June 2013
  • Outline masterplan design agreed July 2013
  • Financial agreement August 2013
  • Planning application and determination December 2014
  • Commence development April 2016
  • Phased completion 2019-2020

Share This Post

Responses to Council Executive To Decide On North Street Recommendation

  1. Pete Brayne Reply

    April 18, 2013 at 8:25 am

    All very exciting. What a great opportunity to radically improve the appalling mess that is North Street and breathe some new life into what seems to be reverting back to its medieval ‘town ditch’ status. It’s been a long time coming. I moved out of an office in Leapale Road in 1989 due to the imminent redevelopment of the site!

Leave a Comment

Please see our comments policy. All comments are moderated and may take time to appear.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *