Fringe Box



Unhappy Rivermount Residents Object to Plan for Four-storey Houses

Published on: 15 Jul, 2021
Updated on: 20 Jul, 2021

Image showing how the new terrace of five houses will look.

By Martin Giles

Residents of a Guildford cul-de-sac are “horrified” that a proposed development on the corner plot at the entrance of their close will damage the look of their road.

Developer Mattwell Homes is seeking approval for five terraced townhouses to replace the existing detached house.

The corner plot at the entrance to Rivermount Gardens on Portsmouth Road before last weekend’s tree felling

Rivermount Gardens off the A3100 Portsmouth Road in St Catherine’s was built as a single development in the late 1970s. All the properties were built in a similar style of that period.

A proposal for five houses on the site was approved in 2018 but a new planning application increases the mass of the proposed building, which will have an additional fourth floor.

The same view post tree felling with the landmark Judas tree gone.

On Sunday (July 11) contractors started felling trees on the site. The trees are not protected as the road lies between two conservation areas: Millmead and Portsmouth Road and St Catherine’s.

Rivermount resident Ernest Hughes said: “Local plans are regularly reviewed but rarely are conservation areas extended or maturing trees that adjoin them considered for protection.

The corner plot currently contains a spacious garden.

“This is the sort of thing the conservation officers within local authorities should keep an eye on but of course GBC has had no or very few conservation officers for a while and they will always have other priorities. Local active citizens can be effective but they have other things to do and it rather leaves those wishing to commercially exploit an area free rein.

“It seems democratic representation in our planning system has disappeared. It’s heads they the developers win and tails you lose, under the existing system.

“Those developer donations which are now a mainstay of the Tory party funds, and probably paying for the Prime Minister‘s wallpaper, are proving to be a good investment.”

Some of the Rivermount residents – united in their anger over the new proposal In front of the house that will be demolished. Top left Ernest Hughes.

Resident Juliette Borland said: “I am absolutely horrified. I am one of the closest to the site. I can’t think of anything in favour of the proposed development at all.”

Jean, a nonagenarian, who has lived in the road for over 40 years, said: “I think it will just spoil our beautiful Rivermount because there could be 20 more people living here and I don’t think we can support that. The extra cars and demand for parking spaces will be a nightmare. It also seems very wicked to demolish a perfectly good house like that.”

Prudence Turner, who lives next to Rivermount in an old quarry by the River Wey, said: “I have been warned by a surveyor that if they get this new building wrong a lot of the rubble could submerge my house. I think the new building looks like a prison, a terrible design.”

Ernest Hughes added that concern about the incongruous design was shared by most, if not all, residents in the road. He hoped that local councillors would support the residents and object. The St Catherine’s Village Association and the Guildford Society are, he said, also objecting.

Cllr Cait Taylor, (Lib Dem, Friary & St Nicolas), said: “The 2018 application for five homes balanced the competing and conflicting needs for ‘homes for all’ with sustainable development, suitably providing three-bedroom family houses recognised as needed by our Local Plan. The design largely complemented the existing street scene, provided garages for parking and limited the height of the houses sympathetically to three storeys.

Cllr Cait Taylor

“Whilst not averse to the design changes of the 2021 application, it might be better for these houses to be sited in an alternative contemporary location. The 2021 application is again for five houses but the massing appears heavier and bulkier with an additional storey of living accommodation.

“The plans show the houses set nearer to the Portsmouth Road, which is concerning for residents as it is near a Network Rail tunnel which has endured previous landslips. And, as garaging is no longer included, the hard standing to the front has doubled which has led to concerns about the visual impact and water run-off.

“I can therefore understand why many residents are concerned about the new application, especially given they have endured a 9½ hour power cut without apology, caused by the contractors, followed by tree felling this weekend without warning.”

Mattwell Homes of Godalming has been invited to comment.

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Responses to Unhappy Rivermount Residents Object to Plan for Four-storey Houses

  1. John Ferns Reply

    July 15, 2021 at 9:05 pm

    This article refers to planning application 21/P/01103 “Demolition of existing dwelling house and erection of 5 no 4 bedroom townhouses” at 19 Rivermount Gardens.

    The house on the corner, which is due to be demolished, in its earlier form, with the vegetation on the fence line and the iconic Judas Tree, was at least in keeping with the locale. Now it is an eyesore.

    And did the GBC tree officer approve its felling? His recent form on the status of the veteran Ash Manor Oaktree says it all.

    And just what has happened to that cedar? It looks like a cat that has been shorn of all its fur.

    There are 13 objectors already, I’m number 14; another six, and a hearing in front of the planning committee will be secured. Otherwise risk the rubber stamp of “delegated authority” given to the planning department.

  2. David Smith Reply

    July 17, 2021 at 9:54 am

    This article would have been more helpful to readers if it showed the existing Rivermount properties which are all (bar three at the bottom of the road) townhouses similar to that proposed albeit neo-Georgian in style. The house due to be knocked down is an anomaly in the road.

  3. Robin Lisowski Reply

    July 17, 2021 at 7:06 pm

    I don’t want to look at a building like this. The place is getting too built up.

  4. A Wing Reply

    July 17, 2021 at 11:01 pm

    That tree was beautiful. Pink blossoms in early springtime brightening up my commute each day. It’s so sad. But that doesn’t matter to property developers. Also, that is a busy junction already.

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