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Weyside Plans Near Completion But Allotment Holders ‘Not Consulted’ Say Campaigners

Published on: 21 Nov, 2020
Updated on: 23 Nov, 2020

By Hugh Coakley

The Weyside Urban Village moved a step closer this week with outline proposals nearing completion for around 1500 new homes on brownfield land at Slyfield.

Guildford Borough Council say they will be submitting an application for the development in December 2020 with completion expected within 10 to 15 years.

But leaders from the Bellfields allotments, which were to be relocated under the plans, say they haven’t been consulted, a claim which is disputed by the council.

Weyside Urban Village site.

The project received a set back in August when the Secretary of State rejected the council’s application to relocate the allotments. The council has said the decision will reduce the number of homes “by approximately 200, of which 90 would be affordable homes for local people.”

Alastair Watson, who has a plot on the Bellfields site and is nominated as spokesperson for the Bellfields allotment holders, said: “Presentations were made to tenants and residents but these were not consultations but simply displays of a proposed relocation of the allotments.

“GBC need to talk to the allotment holders. There is a win-win for all here, for the council, for the Weyside Urban Village development and the allotment holders but they need to talk to us.”

Chairman of the Guildford Allotment Society (GAS), Philippa Wright told The Dragon:  “I can’t make a comment as they haven’t approached GAS. We are in a difficult position as the Secretary of State has said that the site must be retained. Can GBC go against it? I really don’t know.”

An aerial view of the Bellfields Old Farm Lagoon allotments.

Online exhibitions in July and August were reported to have attracted over 300 attendees with 76% of those who responded to the exhibition saying that they supported the plans.

Council leader, Joss Bigmore (R4GV, Holy Trinity) said: “Following the Secretary of State’s decision to refuse the relocation of the allotments at Bellfields Road, we are taking advice on the appropriate next steps. The extra time this has given us has allowed us to again consult with allotment tenants before any decisions are made.”

Lead councillor for Major Projects, John Rigg (R4GV, Holy Trinity) said: “Weyside Urban Village will be a huge benefit to Guildford, bringing affordable homes, new employment opportunities and community space to residents. We’ll also be providing excellent infrastructure and active travel improvements, including pedestrian and cycle paths into the town centre, extended educational facilities and exciting employment opportunities.

“Climate change is one of our key priorities and the project will prioritise environmental impacts throughout the process. The future is our young people and those growing up here or moving into the area. They want affordable sustainable living with high-quality public space, leisure and cultural experiences and we aim to deliver this vision.”

Cllr James Walsh (Stoke, Labour) said: “Angela Gunning and I have pushed for residents to have a real say in what happens on this site and we’ve been really impressed with the extensive consultation that has happened, and by the response from hundreds of local people. No project of this scale will please everyone, but it is extremely important that everyone has the opportunity to express their views at every stage of the scheme – and it’s not too late to get involved.”

The Weyside Urban Village plans to develop 1,500 houses including 40% affordable houses. The project has support from all of the main parties on the council and would appear to have public support as well based on the feedback at the recent exhibitions. £359 million of capital funding has been approved from central government grants and low-interest government loans to enable the infrastructure phase of the development to be carried out.

The site is complex and requires the relocation of several facilities in the area including the Thames Water sewage treatment works, Surrey County Council’s Slyfield waste transfer station and the GBC’s own Woking Road depot. In addition, the community facilities of the allotments, which have statutory protection under the various Allotment Acts, and the Aggie Club both need to be moved and these have been a source of friction with the local community.

See also:

(Councillors welcome £52million grant award for Weyside Urban Village)

(Allotments and Aggie Club future uncertain in GBC’s £395.5 million Weyside Urban Village)

(Bellfields allotment’s decision may have major implications on plans for Weyside Urban Village say council)

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Responses to Weyside Plans Near Completion But Allotment Holders ‘Not Consulted’ Say Campaigners

  1. Dave Middleton Reply

    November 22, 2020 at 2:38 pm

    As I have said before, I find it hard to believe that the removal of the allotment site from the development plans would make much of a difference.

    It is a very small part of the overall plan and to say that it would reduce the number of homes available by some 200 seem frankly ridiculous unless the plan is to build some kind of high-density skyscraper complex on the plot.

    • Jim Allen Reply

      November 23, 2020 at 3:55 pm

      Has Dave Middleton not seen the plans for six-floor tall buildings with 1,500 units, in total?

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