Fringe Box



Second Stage of Town’s £2m Shopping Streets Upgrade Announced

Published on: 10 Apr, 2019
Updated on: 10 Apr, 2019

Chapel Street

By Rebecca Curley

local democracy reporter

The second phase of the £2 million project to re-pave and upgrade Guildford’s shopping streets to make them more pedestrian-friendly goes out to public consultation next month.

Guildford Borough Council (GBC) is now working on designs for works on roads and pavements in Chapel Street, Swan Lane and Castle Street. This follows the “successful” completion of the Tunsgate project.

The granite setts and cart slabs in Chapel Street, laid in the 19th century.

The second phase will also include replacing existing vehicle barriers and new vehicle restrictions as well as CCTV on Chapel Street. Better signage will also be introduced to connect the town’s historic centre and to help promote shops.

Guildford’s Business Improvement District has agreed to provide £10,000 towards the CCTV scheme. The first phase for Tunsgate cost £835,000 with an extra £200,000 added in February this year to complete it. The council has budgeted £1.325m for the second phase with estimated costs set at £1.265m.

The initial plans were presented to councillors at GBC’s place-making and innovation executive advisory group on Monday, April 8.

The deputy leader, Cllr Matt Furniss, said there would be consultation with access groups about how to make it easier for people with wheelchairs and mobility needs to get between the shops.

Cllr Matt Furniss

He added: “We will do something very similar to the Tunsgate where we engaged very heavily with Guildford Access Group. Their comments were fed very heavily into the design and how Tunsgate works. We have already started talking to them about Chapel Street.”

He said among the problems identified where High Street meets Chapel Street was that the pavement is not wide enough for a wheelchair. “The aim is solely around accessibility, creating that shared space. And by having a more level-shared space it will also mean restaurants are able to have their al-fresco dining without having to take up some of that much-needed pavement area, particularly around the Castle Street end.”

Members of the group welcomed the next stage of pavement works. Cllr Angela Goodwin, chairman of the advisory group, said: “I warmly welcome any scheme that that says accessibility.”

Cllr Caroline Reeves said: “I welcome this. The general state of pavements is pretty poor so any improvement can only be a win.”

Cllr Furniss said existing paving on Chapel Street will be used and re-laid and where additional slabs are needed the council will find “complementary materials”.

Guildford’s town centre is made up of a series of networks, inter-connecting streets between the High Street on either side to North Street and Castle Street which are known as “gates”.

Guildford attracts five million day visitors every year and officers said improving the gates will help to “boost the economy”.

Officials are now having a design team develop plans to be shared with the public. A timeline plans consultation for the proposed design scheme between May and July, with construction between September and November.

If work is not finished in November it will be halted for the festive season.

Plans for the second phase, subject to consultation, include: (estimated cost in brackets)

  • Chapel Street – Enhancing the surface to ensure it meets appropriate disability accessibility standards for all while reflecting the town centre’s conservation heritage (£380,000);
  • Swan Lane – Upgrading the pedestrianised carriageway with materials that preserve the town centre’s conservation heritage (£480,000)
  • Castle Street – Introducing better traffic controls, signage and physical interventions to address traffic management issues and providing an improved link to the castle grounds (£190,000);
  • Upgrade existing vehicle gates and CCTV – replace existing vehicle barriers and introduce new vehicle restrictions, where necessary and CCTV on Chapel Street (£215,000); and
  • Signage – Extending the wayfinding signage to enhance the connectivity across the historic centre, promoting retailers and cultural offers (eg places of entertainment) near the town centre.

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test 4 Responses to Second Stage of Town’s £2m Shopping Streets Upgrade Announced

  1. Alan Cooper Reply

    April 10, 2019 at 3:10 pm

    Although a great deal of money, these proposed improvements can only enhance the town as long as they are not as protracted as Tunsgate was. That was obviously under-budgeted.

    Let GBC, with the assistance of Matt Furniss, ensure these plans do work to budget and time.

  2. Ben Darnton Reply

    April 10, 2019 at 10:44 pm

    This is good news for these streets in the long run but let’s hope the businesses get compensated for the inevitable drop in trade during the works.

    Tunsgate looks very smart now but my shop’s takings were down £1000 per week during the late running street works and we were not compensated.

    Ben Darnton is the proprietor of Ben’s Records in Tunsgate.

  3. Charlie Nicholls Reply

    April 11, 2019 at 9:10 am

    Ben Darnton should look a little closer to home for his loss in takings instead of his regular moans about outside forces. I have been a regular customer over the years so know well the layout of his shop and know that due to his knowledge of his business he has a jolly good idea of what he has got in stock at any given time.

    When I rang to ask if he had a particular item the person who answered the phone, (not Ben) quick as a flash said, “Why don’t you just look on the internet, you’ll have it by tomorrow and so guess what? I did!

    Said person couldn’t even bother to say, “I don’t know if we have got it” or, “I’ll ask Ben when he’s back”, let alone even look for it.

    My experience of shopping in town centres these days is lack of customer care and total indifference (and quite a few staff that don’t even manage to speak during the transaction) and that is what is driving me to internet shopping more than any other factor.

  4. Valerie Thompson Reply

    April 11, 2019 at 3:18 pm

    Money like this would be better spent on paying attention to all the uneven pavements around the town centre. I have seen many people trip on them.

    If the pavements in Chapel Street are widened for wheelchairs then there will be a loss of the setts and slabs, which make this alley so attractive. Better to make the whole area pedestrianised, remove the pavements altogether and re-lay the setts within and beside slabs which are the width of a wheels chair’s wheels.

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