Fringe Box



North Street Redevelopment Partnership To Be Terminated

Published on: 13 Jul, 2015
Updated on: 16 Jul, 2015
Aerial photo showing the North Street redevelopment area.

Aerial photo showing the North Street redevelopment area.

The agreement between Guildford Borough Council (GBC) and Land Securities, the council’s preferred development partner for the North Street development project, is to be terminated.

The reason for the termination is, according to a council press release: “The overall scheme viability outlined in the proposal was not sufficient financially for either party…”

GBC will now consider other options for the redevelopment project following further work on its strategy for the area.

The formal rubber stamping of the decision at next week’s Executive meeting (Tuesday, July 21) will enable GBC to consider other options for the redevelopment of the North Street site, as part of the wider strategy of planning for the future of the town centre and the borough.

There have been reports that John Lewis retains a strong interest in the site while others have commented that there should be a higher proportion of residential units within town centre redevelopments, especially because of the continuing high demand for affordable homes and the increasing popularity of online shopping.

GBC Map showing North Street development area in more detail (within blue outline)

GBC Map showing North Street development area in more detail (within blue outline).

Cllr Paul Spooner, (Con, Ash South & Tongham) lead councillor for planning, said today (July 13): “As we prepare for public consultation on the Guildford town centre draft master plan this September, it is an appropriate time to end the agreement with Land Securities and seize the opportunity to consider other options for North Street’s development.

“We will work hard to engage with the local community, stakeholders and local businesses to find out their latest views on the investment and development of the North Street site moving forward.”

Riccardo Mai, development director, Land Securities, said: “Land Securities has worked closely with Guildford Borough Council over the past months. The feasibility work we have undertaken shows that the North Street development brief as it stands does not facilitate the type of returns either we or the council need and the decision to exit the existing agreement is a mutual one.

“The new round of consultation on the town centre masterplan presents Guildford with a natural opportunity to review its options for the site and the understanding gained over the past months will undoubtedly help that process.”

Cllr Stephen Mansbridge, (Con, Ash South & Tongham) leader of the council, commented: “Many other aspects of the site’s possibilities are under review including how any development fits within the emerging town centre masterplan and the identification of potential opportunities with other suitable parties.

“We are committed to developing brownfield sites and identify the most appropriate land use. We remain highly confident of the commercial interest in the site and the prospect of delivering the right mix of retail, residential and leisure uses to serve our residents in the future.”

The North Street redevelopment project has had a difficult history. In 2013 a change in ownership of the Friary Centre complicated the council’s relationships with a major land owner M&G Real Estate. Along with the Friary Centre, it is understood to own a number of properties on North Street.

In April the same year the council was on the verge of selecting Lend Lease as its preferred partner before changing its mind at the last minute to choose Land Securities, the publicly proclaimed favourite of the Guildford Vision Group (GVG).

Relations between GBC and GVG greatly improved in the wake of that decision and the acceptance by the council of the need for masterplanning.

John Rigg, director of GVG said this evening: “I welcome this news. The ideas envisaged for North Street were set a long time ago before the more exciting masterplanning opportunities for the town centre were available.

“This review gives the opportunity for a more joined up approach to be considered recognising changes in retailing and the need for more homes in the town centre.”

Cllr Susan Parker (GGG, Send) leader of the Guildford Greenbelt Group said: “The previous agreement with Land Securities about the North Street development was never subject to any consultation. We hope that there will be proper consultation with the community across the borough of Guildford this time so we can all, as a community, agree how to redevelop this area.

“It is a shame that Victorian buildings were demolished before any agreement was reached about how to develop the area, or even if it should be retail, commercial or residential.

“Guildford has an informed, educated community which cares about our town and its surroundings, able to contribute to the decision making process. We don’t want another set of covert discussions behind closed doors involving developers, perhaps with the secret North Street Panel involving Guildford Vision Group. That strategy was not successful last time – so I hope that we will have a much more open debate now.”

Caroline reeves (Lib Dem, Friary & St Nicolas) said: “I am pleased that this gives us an opportunity to review where we are and ensure that we have joined up thinking for both it, the Town Centre Masterplan and the emerging Local Plan.

“Since we first began our site visits in 2013 to look at the projects completed by the shortlisted developers, the commercial landscape has continued to change and this gives us the opportunity to reflect on what we really need to be providing in our town centre.

“The Liberal Democrats will continue to engage with the council, we have an important part to play in shaping the future of North Street and the way forward.”

Julian Lyon, chairman of the Guildford society said: “We would like to thank Land Securities for working so hard to try to produce a viable scheme and we fully understand the importance of this site to Guildford.

“We now have a perfect opportunity to get the highest quality place-making and to bring vibrancy and excellent design to a suitable scale, urban grain and mix of uses in the town centre.  The Guildford Society stands ready to assist and support the Council in its efforts to regenerate key areas of the town centre – of which North Street is one.”

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Responses to North Street Redevelopment Partnership To Be Terminated

  1. Allen Newman Reply

    July 14, 2015 at 8:15 am

    We [NGM Surveys] rent an office in the North Street development area and a few weeks ago we received a letter inviting us to a meeting to be held last Friday [July 10] at the Radisson Blu to tell us how Guildford Borough Council [GBC] were looking at the overall development of the town.

    The meeting was chaired by Mike Harris who is part of GBC. Also present were representatives from Allies and Morrison, who are architects and planners working on the project.

    They mentioned Tunsgate, Waitrose and The Friary but very little was spoken about North Street. As part of the presentation North Street was shown to be in pre-planning.

    At the end of the meeting I asked for a time scale of the North Street site and was told by Mike Harris that I had to contact Land Securities for further information. When I pressed the point he became very vague, not very surprising as we now know the agreement was about to be terminated.

    Our lease is up for renewal in December 2015 and we have already contacted our managing agents, to ask if we could renew. They said that they would have to ask the owners to see what they wanted to do. We are still waiting to hear.

  2. Mary Bedforth Reply

    July 15, 2015 at 7:20 pm

    How our taxes, national and local, are being frittered away for no purpose.

    Elsewhere I learnt that: “The project has been part-funded by a government grant of £500,000, and £225,000 from the developer, but it has cost the council more than £145,000.”

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