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Tunsgate Quarter – High End Shopping Development Aiming to Enhance High Street Offering

Published on: 3 Mar, 2017
Updated on: 6 Mar, 2017

An impression of how the reconfigured High Street entrance will look with its new recessed entranceway and cafe gallery above.

By Megan Wilman

If you have been wondering what is happening at Tunsgate read on. Tunsgate Square is to become a rather swanky Tunsgate “Quarter”, and its redevelopment is proceeding apace. The project is still on course for an October opening.

Owners Merseyside Pensions are believed to be investing as much as £30 million into the scheme to bring a high-end retail and restaurant offering to complement and enhance Guildford High Street, already one of the most valuable retail spaces outside of London.

The Guildford Dragon NEWS was invited on site to take an inside look at the progress being made and envisage the completed development.

A view of the redevelopment work from the inside. The expected completion date ids October this year (2017).

Frustration over the long delayed start of building work and the disturbance to nearby residents and businesses is beginning to ease as tangible progress can be observed.

Noise and dust during the current rebuilding work is still an issue and some neighbours have complained that for a period they were left in the dark.

But now it is hoped concerns over noise disruption will be abated as a plastic sheeting “wrap” is to be placed over the extensive scaffolding canopy. In fact, workmen had started to put the wrap in place a few weeks ago but it was removed when fears arose that Storm Doris would tear it down.

The wrap design is the first of its kind to be used outside of London and the “envelope” effect will contain most of the inevitable dust and noise.

Concerns regarding the height of the roof may also be put at ease. The current scaffolding gives the impression of a very high structure, that threatens to overshadow surrounding areas. But the height is deceptive as the scaffolding is there to support the roof element of the wrap.

The original cost of the project was said to be £10 million, however the total cost is now rumoured to be closer to £30 million which investors will be hoping to recoup through higher rents.

The investment decision is a clear vote of confidence in the health of Guildford’s retail sector despite the relentless and increasing competition from online suppliers.

Tunsgate Quarter as it will appear when looking through Tunstage Arch. (The design has be updated since this image was produced and shop names are representative only.)

Viewing the site, the bigger picture is finally starting to take shape and it is becoming clear that the development will become a hub of eating, drinking and shopping.

It is expected that eight cafes and restaurants will be opening offering a range of cuisines available from breakfast to dinner. A mix of 18 shops including homeware, fashion, cosmetics and shoes will be available and a total of 14 flats are in development.

As previously announced, celebrity restaurant “The Ivy” is set to open here. It will be an Ivy Grill, as can be found in Covent Garden, described in their website as “sophisticated yet approachable, casual yet polished”. A member of the development team from developers Queensberry  assures us, “it will have surprisingly affordable prices”.

The new addition will be The Ivy’s largest restaurant outside of London, covering over 8,500 square feet, further testament to  continued investor trust in Guildford’s affluence.

Ivy diners on the terrace will be able to enjoy views over Guildford Castle. (The design has be updated since this image was produced and shop names are representative only.)

Ivy diners can expect stunning views of Guildford Castle whilst enjoying the al fresco balcony or the protection of glass walls. The formula is clearly to combine the prestige of The Ivy name and a great setting with reasonable prices and a menu serving breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Elsewhere, high-end homeware store Oka has been granted pride of place spanning two floors.  One of the entrances, reflecting Art Deco styling, will open up Tunsgate and will draw the eye to Oka from the high-street view through Tunsgate Arch.

The intention is that the British store will set the tone for the types of upmarket businesses the developer Queensberry hopes to attract.

The two let units shown are The Ivy Grill restaurant on the left, which will also be on the floor above, and Oka home furnishings bottom right, which will also be on the floor below. A “famous name chef” restaurant is expected to take unit 23, bottom left, with a deli at this level and restaurant above.

Also revealed to us was news that a famous name chef, yet to be announced, has taken a large unit positioned on the corner of Castle Street and Tunsgate. This will be across two floors with a deli on the ground floor and a restaurant above.

An artist of national repute is thought to have been commissioned to decorate a large wall space in the central area, but lips were being kept determinedly sealed, for the time being.

Ten new apartments, one three-bedroom, the remainder one or two-bedroom are also part of the development, in the upper level. But with nearby one-bedroom properties fetching up to £450,000 it is unlikely they will be cheap.

The view from what the developers say will be, “the best apartment in Guildford”.

One, labelled by the developers of  as “the best apartment in Guildford,” will enjoy a stunning view of the Guildford skyline and even a glimpse of the cathedral.

The entire design is fresh and modern and aims to work alongside the established shops, not against them. The old main entrance which once jutted onto the high-street will be opened up and recessed, allowing people to be drawn in. An attractive gallery will sit above the entrance overlooking the high-street.

An artist impression of the central area, with a representative artwork under the glass roof. It is believed a well known artist will be commissioned to produce the real thing.

Inside, the previously slightly dated interior will feel open and better lit with a sight line all the way through to the opposite end of the building and beyond to Guildford Castle. Accessibility will be improved with elevators from the underground car park to all floors and a central staircase.

Level access points from the High Street and onto Tunsgate will, it is hoped, increase pedestrian circulation, benefitting businesses within Tunsgate Quarter and those nearby.

Ben Darnton

Ben Darnton, owner of Ben’s Collectors Records in Tunsgate, was initially wary but is now optimistic. “I think it’s an excellent idea, it’s just a shame it’s taken so long. It has affected local trade footfall adversely but it will be lovely when it’s done.”

He joked: “It’s good the front entrance is opposite, we are in a great position for bored boyfriends and husbands who want to come in and buy a £5 record!”

Ben is not the only one hoping this could be just the thing Guildford needs. Amanda Masters, of Experience Guildford, whose brief is to care for and promote Guildford’s businesses, said: “It’s definitely going to be a good thing. They’re going for high-end and our existing retailers will benefit from the footfall.

Amanda Masters, general manager at Experience Guildford.

“The old structure was a barrier between the castle and the town. We had to put up signs showing the way to the castle, but this will open up the structure encouraging movement through it. I hope the small businesses in this area will benefit.”

Queensberry is confident that they are progressing in line with project plans and, unless unforeseen issues emerge, work will be complete by the expected deadline.

Tunsgate Quarter is due to open in October 2017.

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Responses to Tunsgate Quarter – High End Shopping Development Aiming to Enhance High Street Offering

  1. Vivienne Ashbolt Reply

    March 4, 2017 at 3:10 pm

    Will it be wheelchair friendly?

    Yes. The two entrances will give level access from either the High Street or Tunsgate and there will be a lift between all floors. Ed.

  2. Mark McShane Reply

    March 4, 2017 at 4:36 pm

    Is there any news to support the rumours that John Lewis and / or The Apple Store will move into the new Tunsgate Quarter?

    The only shops that have been confirmed are those we have mentioned. Ed.

  3. Dave Middleton Reply

    March 6, 2017 at 2:18 pm

    Has the Edward and Eleanor sundial been retained and will it be replaced on the new building?

    Yes, it will be retained but slightly repositioned. Ed

  4. Eddie Ward Reply

    July 16, 2017 at 5:12 pm

    Seems to me that work has stopped, with the scaffolding taken away.
    Has anyone any news ?

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