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Letter: The 2019 Local Plan Leaves Our Town Centre Open to Undesirable Development

Published on: 14 Oct, 2020
Updated on: 14 Oct, 2020

From: Alistair Smith

chair, The Guildford Society

In response to: Now It Is My Turn to Urge Faster Progress

The Guildford Society would like the Town Centre Masterplan developed quickly; particularly with the issues posed by major sites outside the Local Plan allocations in the town centre likely to come forward for development. As both the remit and budget have now been approved by the council we look forward to progress.

It should be noted that the Allies and Morrison (A&M) plan produced in 2015 was never subject to the process for adoption by the council.

The Society believes the A&M had much to commend it and it should be considered as part of the evidence base for the new Masterplan, but it failed to address Town Centre infrastructure issues.

The town centre policy (S3) included, at a very late stage in the Local Plan adopted in 2019, didn’t reference the A&M plan. The society argued, unsuccessfully, that the policy S3 was unambitious in scope and weak on detail. This policy leaves the town centre open to undesirable development.

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test One Response to Letter: The 2019 Local Plan Leaves Our Town Centre Open to Undesirable Development

  1. Bibhas Neogi Reply

    December 30, 2020 at 1:00 pm

    The Allies and Morrison (A&M) plan produced in 2015 was never subject to the process for adoption by the council and it did not address the traffic infrastructure improvements required to complement the plan.

    Guildford Vision Group (GVG) came up with their idea of diverting all traffic away to the west of the railway line on a realigned and renewed Farnham Road Bridge and a new route parallel to the tracks. This route then crossed the tracks, Walnut Tree Close and the river and taking traffic back to the modified York Road roundabout.

    This solution although looking attractive was compromised by the Solum plans for the development of the railway station site which will block the required route. Although GVG was looking into the possibilities of creating a gap in Solum’s buildings (labelled “The Great Wall of Guildford”), to date they have not indicated whether they have reached any such agreement with Solum. The other difficulties of rebuilding Farnham Road Bridge and the new bridge over live tracks when trains run almost 21 hours a day and the constraints of the sites for construction work to proceed safely, were not discussed by GVG.

    The alternative scheme to create a pedestrian-friendly town centre would be to continue to use the strengthened Farnham Road Bridge and create the new east-west route that avoids Solum’s site and puts the north-south route of Millbrook and Onslow Street underground.

    Please see my ideas described in

    A holistic approach to the reduction of congestion and relocation of the bus station to a site that would create an optimum transport hub should be the aim. But the proposal to relocate the bus station within the North Street redevelopment increases the distance between the railway station and the bus station even farther. All buses using North Street have to go up to Leapale Road to access the proposed bus station which goes against the aim of making North Street pedestrian-friendly.

    In order to maintain the advantage of those bus passengers who prefer the location of the existing bus station, a min-hub with waiting facilities and a café could be created close to it. Park & Ride buses could also use this min-hub. Incoming buses from Woodbridge Road would drop off passengers and pick up those wanting to go to the bus station that could be relocated on Bedford Road car park site.

    If this is done, North Street site could have more housing instead of this large area that would otherwise be occupied by the bus station and only a few outgoing bus routes would use North Street, thus making it more pedestrian-friendly. The developer would gain a lot more of the site and should then be able to contribute towards building the new bus station off-site.

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