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Updated: Council Names Land Securities as New Recommended North Street Development Partner

Published on: 9 Aug, 2013
Updated on: 13 Jul, 2015
Aerial photo showing the North Street redevelopment area

Aerial photo showing the North Street redevelopment area

A Guildford Borough Council evaluation panel will recommend Land Securities as developer partner for the North Street project. The recommendation comes ahead of the council’s Executive meeting on September 5, when it will consider the panel’s choice of partner and make a final decision.

This overturns a previous recommendation in April, days away from ratification by the Executive, before last-minute talks with new owners of the Friary Centre, PRUPIM (now M&G Investments), caused it to pause. Considerable use of compulsory purchase of PRUPIM property was envisaged if co-operation was not obtained. The council acknowledged the risk of delay associated legal processes/challenges could have created.

The Guildford Vision Group made it clear in a public meeting at the time that its clear preference was Land Securities who had, its steering committee felt, the best expertise for masterplanning an element of town planning the group has consistently called for.

A council spokesperson said: “The Panel’s recommendation follows a thorough assessment of the proposals submitted by the three shortlisted developers. The selection process has been an extremely robust procedure, concentrating on the short-list of three best-in-class developers that included Lend Lease and Queensberry Real Estate.”

The chosen developer will work closely with the Council and M&G Real Estate, the owners of the Friary Shopping Centre in the town centre, following the formation of a landowners’ partnership.

Cllr James Palmer, deputy leader of the council and lead councillor for town centre planning and infrastructure said: “Following the Evaluation Panel’s initial selection of a potential development partner, we carefully re-examined our original recommendation in light of the recent site acquisitions by the Prudential through its property fund M&G.

“The Panel assessed the developers’ compatibility with the primary landowners together with evidence of relevant and recent experience, capability and an appreciation of our development objectives. In reconsidering our decision, the Panel has reached a different conclusion, which we believe brings forward the most timely and effective development programme with the primary landowners and the right development partner.

“Presentations by the short-listed developers and engagement with local interested parties helped to inform the Panel in reaching their decision. This recommendation aims to move the North Street project forward at pace with Land Securities working closely with the council and its landowner partners.”

The evaluation panel will submit their recommendation to the council’s Executive committee in the last week of August. The Executive will make its decision on September 5.

Cllr Caroline Reeves (Lib Dem, Friary & St Nicolas) speaking on behalf of the Lib Dem Group said: “Lib Dems are pleased that the decision has been made to recommend Land Securities as the North Street developer. The councillors for Friary & St Nicolas Ward were involved in the whole selection process including the reconsideration when the Friary Centre ownership changed from Hermes to PRUPIM, now M&G.

“Having M & G as landowner partners will ensure that this important site in the town is developed by a team working together to ensure that we can gain the best for Guildfordians.”

John Rigg, Chairman of the Guildford Vision Group (GVG) said: “GVG welcome the evaluation panel’s recommendation to appoint Land Securities but await the Executive’s final decision next month.

“It is a hugely important decision for Guildford not only in terms of the North Street development but the other opportunities it can release and problems it can help solve.

“To have a leading investor taking a long term view in partnership with a leading developer/investor bodes well for the future. It will be quite some journey but having first class partners working in collaboration with the council will represent an excellent start.”

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