Fringe Box



St Mary’s Wharf Construction Project to Start Following £18.5 Million Investment

Published on: 26 Mar, 2024
Updated on: 10 Apr, 2024

A CGI image of how the completed redevelopment will look as viewed from the town bridge. Image Native Land

By Martin Giles

Construction work is to start on the 200,000 sq ft mixed-use development on the landmark Millbrook site formerly occupied by Debenhams. Its store closed in 2021.

After months of delay during which observers have questioned whether the “St Mary’s Wharf” project had stalled, developer Native Land is reporting that it has secured £18.5 million in a funding arrangement with international property developer, manager and investor Grosvenor. The new money will allow work to commence.

Today, following reports of fittings being stripped from the interior of the existing 1960s building, due for demolition before construction can commence, workers could be seen working in the triangle of land by the main entrance.

See update below.

St Mary’s Wharf is the new name for the 1.7-acre riverside site located at the foot of the High Street close to the town bridge over the River Wey.

The development planning permission, passed by a single vote in November 2022, comprises 185 private and affordable homes, together with 21,000 sq ft of restaurant and business spaces.

See: Debenhams to be Demolished for Homes, Divisive Plan Approved

Native Land says it will create an acre of new public riverside walkways and gardens and will provide direct access to the River Wey from the High Street for the first time in more than 50 years.

The Squire & Partners designed buildings include the retention and reuse of the existing basement and, in response to Native Land’s brief, will be fossil-fuel-free and net zero carbon in operation.

Robert Harris, project director at Native Land, said: “Our investment alongside longstanding partner Grosvenor reinforces the strength of the housing-led regeneration of St Mary’s Wharf.

“Our development will not only deliver high-quality new homes in the town centre, it will also create public, waterside spaces and link a further section of river walk consistent with Guildford’s wider masterplan ambitions.”

March 28: Regarding the men seen working near the former Debenham’s store entrance, a spokesperson for Native Land said: “A routine archaeological assessment is currently being undertaken on the St Mary’s Wharf site in line with the planning consent conditions.

“This is not connected to the town-wide surveys being carried out the Environment Agency to inform a sustainable flood risk management scheme for Guildford.”

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Responses to St Mary’s Wharf Construction Project to Start Following £18.5 Million Investment

  1. Ramsey Nagaty Reply

    March 27, 2024 at 1:11 pm

    I would hope use of barges on the river Wey are used rather than lorries going through the declared AQMAs [Air Quality Monitoring Areas] to remove the demolition materials.

    This was a point I raised at the GBC Planning Committee meeting at which approval for the development was granted.

    Ramsey Nagaty is a former GGG borough councillor.

    • Bibhas Neogi Reply

      March 31, 2024 at 11:25 am

      Has the feasibility of using barges been explored? It would be double handling unless containers are used but then the question of available headroom below Town Bridge and Onslow Bridge have to be considered.

      In any case the debris has to be broken up and steel cut away sufficiently before the lumps could be safely transported. All in all quite an expensive demolition job. It may not be at all possible when the river level is high for the barges to ply.

      Has the council under the requirement of pre-commencement conditions agreed the developer’s proposal?

  2. Tim Wolfenden Reply

    March 28, 2024 at 6:23 pm

    Alas, I suspect this sensible suggestion has not been properly evaluated before being dismissed. Somewhat bemusingly section 5.1.1 (Measures to encourage sustainable freight) of the updated Construction Traffic Management Plan on the GBC planning portal states “Freight by Water: N/A Due to accessibility and method of removal of demolition arisings”. How more accessible could the river be!

  3. J E Davey Reply

    March 29, 2024 at 10:06 am

    An interesting article on construction waste transport by water can be found at the link below. Also might generate some income for the National Trust.

  4. Tom Aldens Reply

    March 29, 2024 at 11:17 am

    So, the clock’s ticking. How long until this lot face financial issues and the project becomes stuck in limbo for years before being bailed at public expense? Fitting that it’s doesn’t join up with the adjacent and now abandoned greenway, yet another massively expensive unfinished white elephant that’s now not spoken of.

  5. Frank Emery Reply

    March 29, 2024 at 2:09 pm

    If it cost £6 million to build the Walnut Bridge don’t hold out for much building work for the £18 million for St Mary’s Wharf.

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