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Slyfield Area Regeneration Project (SARP) Launched And Rebranded ‘Weyside Urban Village’

Published on: 3 Jun, 2019
Updated on: 31 Oct, 2019

By Hugh Coakley

After many years in the making, the Slyfield Area Regeneration Project (SARP) has moved a step further being rebranded as the Weyside Urban Village.

Today (Monday, June 3) a brief ceremony took place at the site with a virtual on-screen unveiling, celebrating the start of the development of 1,500 houses, of which 40% will be classed as affordable, 6,500 sqm of commercial space, six Gypsy and traveller pitches and a new or enhanced waste management depot.

The development is on brownfield land currently used by Thames Water’s Guildford sewage plant, the Guildford Borough Council (GBC) depot off the Woking Road and Surrey County Council’s (SCC) waste management plant.

Excerpt from the draft Local Plan of the Slyfield Area Regeneration Project (SARP) showing the existing sewage works and the GBC depot.

As a key part of the plan, Guildford Borough Council (GBC) has signed an agreement with Thames Water for the relocation of the sewage works. This will enable Thames Water to commence the detailed planning and design for the new works. GBC had already set aside £10m for Thames Water costs in March 2019.

Cllr Caroline Reeves, leader of Guildford Borough Council and Liberal Democrat councillor for Friary & St Nicolas, said in a press release today: “The Weyside Urban Village will appeal to all, putting climate change, the environment and our borough’s needs first while supporting high-quality sustainable design and drainage and maximising its rural position providing unparalleled views over the River Wey.

“The development will encourage residents to walk or cycle in to the town centre.”

Steve Spencer, chief operating officer for Thames Water, talking to The Dragon said: “We have a great relationship with GBC and this collaboration is a first in the industry. Our responsibility as part of the development works will be to relocate the sewage works and transfer the flow from the old works to the new.

“We are delighted to be part of a project that helps the community and to be able to provide a new modern sewage works.”

An image of how the proposed SARP could be.

Noting that the contract between GBC and Thames Water was confidential, Tracey Coleman, GBC’s director of planning and regeneration, said: “This is one of Thames Water’s top four projects and is a new approach. We have a land swap [between GBC and Thames Water] taking into account the value of the land. Ofwat has to agree everything and we have had to ensure that there is no state aid to a private company.”

Relocating the sewage works will be one of a series of projects needed to realise the housing development. Other projects include relocating the GBC depot and the Slyfield internal estate road which will be completed in 2020 and will provide future access for the re-development of the land east and north of the estate.

At the Weyside Urban Village launch, Anton Draper, from the Ministry for Housing, Community and Local Government; James Whiteman, GBC managing director; Cllr Paul Spooner, former leader of the council; Steve Spencer, chief operating officer Thames Water; Cllr Caroline Reeves, GBC leader.

Thames Water will need to submit a planning application for the new sewage works. It is expected that the construction works will take three years enabling work on the new homes to begin in five years.

Michael Lee-Dickson, GBC’s regeneration lead in its Major Projects Unit, said that getting the project to this position has been like a complicated jigsaw. He said: “We now need to secure funding from the LEP [Local Enterprise Project] and the government’s Housing Infrastructure Fund.

“We expect to be putting in a planning application for the development in summer 2020. Meanwhile, I need to ensure that Thames Water deliver on their part of the agreement.”

The Minister of State for Housing, Kit Malthouse MP, had originally accepted the invitation to the launch but later cancelled. He became the tenth candidate for the leadership of the Conservative party and a contender to replace Theresa May as prime minister. He was represented by Anton Draper, head of investment and regeneration at the Ministry for Housing, Community and Local Government.

In a statement Kit Malthouse said: “Projects like this in Slyfield are tremendously important if we are going to realise our ambition of 300,000 new homes a year by the mid-2020s.

“I applaud this real effort, led by an ambitious council and supported by the government, and look forward to seeing the homes coming out of the ground soon.”

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Responses to Slyfield Area Regeneration Project (SARP) Launched And Rebranded ‘Weyside Urban Village’

  1. Jim Allen Reply

    June 3, 2019 at 9:32 pm

    Am I the only one to think this is a foolish project fraught with technical, financial and practical problems, such as rat infestation, disturbance of both sites and no practical entrance to the housing site yet disclosed.

    As for the “confidential” status of this commercially unviable project, why is it secret? After all, it is public money paying for it, £10 million to a plc for a year’s work.

    Did not the last [Guildford Borough Council] Executive lose their seats because of the incessant scream of secrecy and episodes like The Village?

  2. Ben Paton Reply

    June 4, 2019 at 8:05 am

    In an earlier Dragon article it was reported that the cost of moving the sewage plant would be some £90m. Cllr Bob McShee said: “At the council meeting held on the February 26, I asked the leader of the council, ‘Who is funding the cost of moving Thames Water’s sewage treatment works?‘

    “He advised that it would be Guildford Borough Council.

    “The estimated cost of the move is £90 million. An ‘all councillor‘ briefing on the project will be held in June/July.”

    £90m is a cost of £60,000 per proposed new dwelling before anything has been built. Can someone explain why it makes sense to move a functional sewage plant at such great expense?

    Experience teaches that such cost estimates are usually over run. So the likely cost may be greater.

  3. Anna-Marie Davis Reply

    June 4, 2019 at 10:03 am

    Why is the former leader of the council at this publicity stunt? He is the leader of the third largest party at the council, a role previously filled by Susan Parker as leader of GGG during the last council. I am struggling to think of a time Paul Spooner invited her along for a photo op.

  4. Alan Davies Reply

    June 4, 2019 at 4:19 pm

    Is there any real change at Guildford Council?

    Cllrs Caroline Reeves and Paul Spooner seen together again. They may have swapped the council leader role when her Lib Dems gained seats and his Tories were massacred and lost control, but a photo may tell a thousand words.

    Actually, has anything really changed post elections? Lib Dems almost always supported the Tories and it sounds like they will do nothing to challenge the flawed Local Plan. Won’t these national parties just pursue their political agendas rather than recognise that residents voted for local, independent ideas and councillors? Will Cllr Spooner and his group actually pull the strings and prop up their Lib Dem “friends”?

    Only time will tell but The Dragon will doubtless keep us up to date.

  5. David Roberts Reply

    June 5, 2019 at 10:09 pm

    Nice to see news about brownfield redevelopment for a change, whatever the merits of the Slyfield scheme.

    But the name! First a disastrous “pop-up” village, then a “garden” village (Three Farms Meadows [aka the former Wisley Airfield]), now an “urban” village. While all this make-believe is going on, Guildford’s real villages have been chucked out of the green belt!

  6. Harry Eve Reply

    June 6, 2019 at 9:38 am

    Or is this celebrating the first stage of the Infrastructure Development Plan? That shiny new spade may shortly be joined by a wheelbarrow and a pick. Perhaps Cllrs Reeves and Spooner are wasting no time and are about to start digging a tunnel under Guildford?

  7. J Dickinson Reply

    November 1, 2019 at 2:25 pm

    I see that this scheme was allocated the highest amount of funding in today’s announcement

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