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Plans For 21st Century Guildford Fire Station Approved

Published on: 6 Sep, 2012
Updated on: 6 Sep, 2012

How the new Guildford fire station will look

Guildford is to have a new fire station in 2013. The existing 1930s building is no longer fit for purpose and requires significant maintenance. Its limitations are affecting the effectiveness of the fire and rescue teams based there.

Despite over 50 letters of objection, many arguing for the preservation of a unique building, councillors voted overwhelmingly to approve Surrey County Council’s planning application. The existing building and training tower will be completely demolished.

Guildford fire station is one of the busiest in the county. During the debate Cllr Keith Taylor (Con, Send) said: “This is one of the few cases where this [planning application] could be a matter of life or death for our residents.”

Fire Station Plan

The new station will include: eight appliance bays, a two storey accommodation block, a fitness suite, a canteen, a community room, a three storey smoke house and four storey drill tower, a training area and car and bike parks.

New Fire Station Tower Elevation

A complication within the proposal is the required demolition of two four-bedroom homes used for social housing, which under the proposal will have to be replaced with 12 one bedroomed flats. A condition of the proposal is that the fire station may not be used operationally before the replacement affordable housing is ready for occupation.

Donna Collinson of the Twentieth Century Society spoke in objection to the proposal. She said: “This building is unique in Surrey….There is no evidence that any consideration has been given to the retention of this building or of its conversion or reuse. ”

Chief Fire Officer Russell Pearson said: “Guildford Fire Station is one of our busiest stations in Surrey and is absolutely key to operations which help to keep Surrey residents safe from harm. Our current and future needs are not met by Guildford Fire Station. However we strongly object to wording in the report that could delay the opening of the new station [until new social housing has been provided].”

Proposing approval, Cllr Caroline Reeves, (Lib Dem, Friary and St Nicolas) whose ward contains the Ladymead site, said: “It is common knowledge that the existing fire station is past its best…  I can understand the concerns over the fact that the fire station can’t be used until the social housing is ready but at the same time it’s very important that we have more affordable housing. I find this [the condition that the new station cannot open without replacement housing being ready] very important.

Cllr Keith Taylor (Con, Send), seconding the proposal for approval, said: “English Heritage have not raised any objection neither has our own [GBC] conservation officer. We have no planning ground whatever for refusing this application.”

Tim Dawes, Development Control Manager said: “I am a little bit surprised by the objection [of the fire officer to the condition regarding replacement of social housing]. It’s an important clause in terms of delivering the social housing. If we remove the clause, potentially, we could be two houses down,” he said. “But the solicitors could explore changes in the wording”.

But Cllr Graham Ellwood (Con, Merrow) said: “It is very valuable that we have organisations such as the Twentieth Century Society to protect our heritage but we are now living in the 21st century and Guildford needs  a  21st century fire station…

“The first speaker [Donna Collinson] said it’s a unique building, well it’s certainly unique because bits of the ceiling have fallen on to fire officers and I’m afraid that is something which can’t go on… Where I disagree with some of my colleagues… is that I would not want the safety of Surrey residents put at risk by clauses delaying the building of the new fire station, so long as the social housing is replaced…”

Cllr David Elms (Con, Worplesdon) introduced himself as a former firefighter who had been stationed Guildford fire station. He said: “Appliances are having to reverse in and firemen have less than three inches either side as they reverse vehicles. …With the fire appliances actually in the bay there is hardly room to open the doors.

“We need that new fire station and we need it pretty soon because the lorries ain’t going to fit otherwise.”

No votes against the proposal were observed.

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test One Response to Plans For 21st Century Guildford Fire Station Approved

  1. Bernard Parke

    September 6, 2012 at 5:39 pm

    With the demise of this part of the Old Borough of Guildford, which was opened in 1937, we must make sure that the dedication plaque, unveiled at that time, is rescued for the town and not lost as other artefacts have been, in the past.