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Solum Starts Station Phase for 98 New Homes and 640-space Car Park

Published on: 22 Jan, 2021
Updated on: 22 Jan, 2021

Solum’s impression of how the new station development will look

The controversial £200m “Solum Regeneration” scheme at Guildford station has started construction on the first of its three phases.

The project, given planning permission on appeal after unanimous rejection by Guildford Borough Council, is a joint venture between Kier Property and Network Rail.

JJ Rhatigan and KN Circet have started on the enabling works to build 98 new homes and a 640-space multi-storey car park.

The outline schedule of work is:

  • Enabling works completed by September 2021;
  • Multi-storey car park construction commences October 2021, completed November 2022; and
  • “Transport interchange” commences December 2022, completion November 2023.

The overall project will provide 440 new homes as well as station improvements costing £25 million which Slolum claim “will include significant benefits to the community, a new station building, an integrated transport interchange, a new multi-storey car park, improved public realm and the widening of Walnut Tree Close”.

Townscape post Solum development – Image: Supplementary Planning Document

But critics have said the scheme represents a missed opportunity to improve passenger facilities at the station. And others are fearful of the impact of the high-rise development on the town, christening it the “Great Wall of Guildford”.

Last year, Solum announced a forward fund deal with Grainger plc, the UK’s largest listed residential landlord and leader in the UK private rented sector (PRS). Grainger agreed to acquire a 98-home “build to rent” development at the station worth £37 million.

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Alan Jones, development director for Solum, said: “The commencement of works at our Guildford station development is a significant achievement that we have worked towards over several years with stakeholders all contributing to reach this milestone.

“Completion of these initial-build contracts will deliver the first tranche of new homes in Guildford and also the new multi-storey car park.”

Stuart Kirkwood, group property director, Network Rail, added: “This is an exciting scheme, which will not only provide major station improvements, but also deliver much-needed housing in Guildford.

“We’re proud to be part of the team delivering jobs, homes and a better experience for passengers and the wider Guildford community.”

Council Leader Caroline Reeves

Cllr Caroline Reeves, lead for Housing and Development Control, said: “Our views on this development and its history are well-documented.

“We do wish to provide more homes for residents and those moving to Guildford so we will continue to work with Network Rail and partners to provide the supporting infrastructure to this development.”

Alistair Smith, of the Guildford Society, said: “Although we welcome the new housing, the Society believes the station scheme is a critical missed opportunity to improve Guildford. The scheme is a failure of planning and design, wasting a once-in-a-generation chance to create a high-class station area plus infrastructure improvements.

“Sadly, Solum sets a precedent for other schemes of inappropriate mass and scale, and undistinguished design to gain consent. The Local Plan provides almost no protection as regards height and mass, with a series of poor policies, compounded by a flawed town centre views supplementary planning document.”

John Morris

John Morris of the Peace Party said: “We are most pleased to see the redevelopment of the Guildford Station area will include so many homes. The well-being of everyone in the community, indeed in the country as a whole, is dependent on each one of us all having somewhere safe and secure in which to live.

“Guildford and Britain have a very long way to go to achieve that goal. This is one small step nearer to achieving it. The party is also pleased to see the extra provision of car parking at the station and hopes to see more spaces for cycles too.”

Bill Stokoe

Bill Stokoe, chair of Guildford Vision Group said: “A missed opportunity for proper redevelopment of the station as part of a 21st-century transport hub.”

Sallie Barker, chair of the Guildford Conservatives said: “This Solum development dubbed ‘Great Wall of Guildford’ was opposed cross-party and by a large number of residents.

“It is disappointing that this development has not changed its unpopular design which delivers little benefit to Guildford’s residents or station passengers.

“We hope the North Street development is lower than this unpopular development. We will continue to fight for better platform access and passenger experience for all the stations in Guildford.”

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Responses to Solum Starts Station Phase for 98 New Homes and 640-space Car Park

  1. Jim Allen Reply

    January 22, 2021 at 11:56 am

    I have a few questions:

    1. Does Moorefield’s Sewage Works actually have the capacity? Their numbers and visual facts simply do not add up.

    2. Do the pipes from this location have the capacity for 450 homes? I have not seen any new pipes being laid.

    3. As the Weyside Urban Village documents state that Thames water cannot supply more than 50 homes at the Village – does Thames water have sufficient pipe size or water in the reservoirs to supply 450 homes? (Read the utilities documents in the set of 246 documents.)

    4. Where is this “integrated transport hub”? I understood it is a “car park” and taxi stand with no provision for the integration of commuter buses. Has something changed?

  2. Barbara Ford Reply

    January 23, 2021 at 1:49 pm

    I also understand that it retains the current frustrating arrangement whereby the head of the taxi rank and queue is at the far end of the forecourt from the station exit – disadvantaging the elderly, the infirm, the pregnant (anyone who can’t walk easily) and causing unpleasant scenes as new arrivals from the station exit joining the end of the passenger queue (especially those who can’t walk easily) try to assess which of the taxis in the taxi queue will be theirs.

    “Integrated transport hub” – what can the term mean?

  3. Anjum Ahmed Reply

    January 25, 2021 at 9:02 am

    I find the 640-space car park to be particularly egregious. Imagine the amount of traffic that would invite to roads. I’m not saying there should no car parks for new homes, but 640 spaces for 440 units—is that normal? I thought the idea behind a compact station-side development and current traffic urban planning was for a low home to car space ratio.

    Overall, I’m confused as other commenters as to where the “integrated transport hub” is.

    • Peter Mills Reply

      January 25, 2021 at 12:24 pm

      640 spaces for 440 units sounds fantastic compared to two spaces for 12 units in the new development in Annandale Road. I suspect that GBC Planning Committee will wave anything through in fear of losing at appeal and having costs awarded against them.

      Editor’s note: GBC unanimously rejected Solum’s plan to redevelop the station site. It was given permission on appeal confirmed by the Secretary of State.

    • S Callanan Reply

      January 25, 2021 at 12:49 pm

      I thought the 640 space multi-storey car park was for the station, other car parking being arranged for the leaseholders or tenants of the flats.

      As to the “integrated transport hub”, my understanding is that the trains, the taxis, drop-off/pick-up points and two bus stops fulfill that description. So not much change there. I think there are supposed to be additional bus stops to be installed in the widened Walnut Tree Close.

      I wonder if any of the 98 homes for rent we’re now hearing about will be “affordable”?

  4. Stuart Barnes Reply

    January 25, 2021 at 9:44 pm

    The whole thing is almost too horrible to contemplate.

    The vandals will not be happy until the whole of England is covered in concrete.

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