Fringe Box



Public Quiz Guildford Cathedral on 124 Homes Plan

Published on: 7 Mar, 2023
Updated on: 13 Mar, 2023

Indicative CGI of how the new housing development at Guildford Cathedral would look. Image: VIVID Homes

By Chris Caulfield

local democracy reporter

Developers pushing to build 124 homes on the open green space around Guildford Cathedral held a “whistlestop” tour of their latest plans last night.

Questions from the floor ranged from over-development, protecting the heritage of the site and flood risk during the Vivid Homes hosted webinar on Monday, March 6.

The site has been a contentious point for those who feel the land should be kept open for the benefit of the town.

The cathedral says the land must be sold to pay for the long-term maintenance of the Grade II listed building.

The matter is complicated further by Guildford Borough Council which allocated the site for potential development of up to 100 homes as part of its Local Plan.

The project is for 124 homes, consisting of flats and family homes. There would be 13 properties for cathedral staff – replacing the seven that currently exist.

There would be 44 affordable homes; 13 offered as shared ownership and the remaining made available for controlled rent.

The Friends of Stag Hill residents group who are opposing the plans with the slogan, “Guildford deserves better,” published a video in advance of the meeting saying the estate threatens the lands around the cathedral.

They said money was raised in 1943 to buy the surrounding lands to stop it being developed and to “save it for the people of Guildford”.

But John Waterfield, land and planning manager, told the session it would bring “much needed affordable housing” to the area and that the landscaping, path and cycleways would create something “for the whole community to enjoy”.

Updates to the original 2021 proposals include fewer houses and more trees. The developers argue the estate would “enhance” the cathedral by creating a new approach avenue of yew trees and return the grounds vision of the original architect Sir Edward Maufe.

From the cathedral, visitors would be able to enjoy views of the castle keep, the long view of Guildford and that the grounds would become a place to play, the meeting was told.

Another CGI view of the proposed development Image: VIVID Homes

Matt O’Grady, director of operations at Guildford Cathedral said the plans would make the cathedral the “centre of the community and that the sale of the land would also ensure the long-term future of the site” as the money would be put into an annual endowment.

The panel then fielded questions from those in attendance.

The first asked why 124 homes were proposed when the local plan only earmarked the site for  100 – with the meeting told that housing numbers were subjective and the developers felt the total was appropriate for the site.

Objections raised by the Vimy Foundation, which oversees the public historical resources and modern perspectives on Canada’s participation in the First World War, were also addressed.

The foundation argues the land was bought by the country’s former prime minister, Viscount Bennett, for the purpose of creating a space to remember those who served in battle.

The stone laid in memory of Canadian troops who served in the Guildford area before going on to fight in NW Europe in the Second World War.

O’Grady, said the land was never designed as a war memorial and that the charity commission had looked at the potential sale and gave the church the go-ahead. The memorial stone, he said, would remain in place.

The developers said the scheme would have two-thirds the traffic impact of the original design, while flood risk will not just be mitigated but the work done would improve the area as a whole.

In all, they estimated £2.3 million in infrastructure spend including money for highways, off-site play, police and health.

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Responses to Public Quiz Guildford Cathedral on 124 Homes Plan

  1. Helena Townsend Reply

    March 8, 2023 at 7:28 am

    Saw the leaflets through my door, looks like a lovely scheme has been designed which will regenerate this part of town and provide a future for the cathedral. Let me guess, objectors all live in Ridgemount?

  2. Jules Cranwell Reply

    March 8, 2023 at 8:15 am

    This is a heinous betrayal of the Canadians who gave their lives for our freedom. Shame on the cathedral, the bishop and Vivid, and shame on the Tories and their despised Local Plan.

  3. E Parry Reply

    March 9, 2023 at 11:20 am

    Vivid have received 287 objections so far, only 20ish from houses on Ridgemount, most objections are from the wider community.

    To give perspective, this is more than the Solum (train station) application (200 objections), the Debenhams application (202 objections) and the North Street application (114 objections).

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