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Will Plaza Building Site Stir Into Life After More Than 20 Years Derelict?

Published on: 15 Jun, 2021
Updated on: 15 Jun, 2021

Proposals for 303 single occupancy rooms in four buildings of between three and six storeys high have been revealed for the Portsmouth Road / Bury Street Plaza site, derelict for over 20 years.

An artist’s impression of the 303-room development aimed at “graduate and young professionals” on the Plaza site.

Tiger Developments, a privately owned Irish property and construction company, said the town centre scheme was aimed at “graduates and young professionals”, providing “an attractive stepping stone from academic to working life” before possibly buying a home.

The developer said it would also appeal to “project-based workers who need short- to medium-term accommodation”.

The developer is asking for views from the public in an online consultation on the outline proposals, closing on Friday, July 9.

An artist’s view of the courtyard in the new Plaza proposals by Tiger Developments.

There will be an online presentation with an opportunity to ask the project team questions on Saturday, June 26.

Formerly the Central Electricity Generating Board building known as Burymead House, and before that the Guildford Glass & Metal Works, and even further back a hive of brewing and mineral water making, the prime town centre site has became controversial for remaining empty for so long.

Pictured in about the late 1950s, the former Castle Brewery buildings when later used by Guildford Glass & Metal Works Ltd. Vintage and current pictures in this story supplied by David Rose.

Burymead House before demolition in February 2000. Back then it was being called the Guildford Plaza and on offer was between 40,000 sq ft and 80,000 sq ft of space for office development. Nothing came of it.

Demolition in progress of Burymead House, February 24, 2000

The big hole between Portsmouth Road and Bury Street from the same view as the demolition photo.

It became a symbol of the lack of sanction over developers who left sites uncompleted after getting planning permission. It was cited by former Guildford MP Anne Milton in parliament as “criminal” that it was “sitting empty” (see Housing Minister Pledges To Investigate Delayed Guildford Housing Development Scheme).

June 2012, the site remains a big hole. Will this latest scheme come to fruition? A previous scheme for assisted living apartments came to nothing.

Guildford Borough Council confirmed in 2019 it had unsuccessfully tried to buy the site for affordable housing to help early delivery of Local Plan housing targets (Mystery Buyer Outbid Council For Town’s Prime Plaza Building Site).

If it takes place, the development will be managed by Host, a sister company to Tiger Developments, that specialises in student housing. All of the rooms in the proposed development will be “each occupied by one person” in what the developer has called co-living – “a modern and innovative living solution”.

The developer said it will exceed Guildford Borough Council’s sustainability and energy requirements for a 20% reduction in carbon emissions compared to the government building regulations.

A previous plan for the one-acre site, was approved in 2018 (Amended ‘Guildford Plaza Plan’ Approved For 100 Assisted Living Apartments) for 100 assisted-living apartments. It had been criticised for its impact on the Millmead conservation area due to the height at six storeys and scale.

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test 4 Responses to Will Plaza Building Site Stir Into Life After More Than 20 Years Derelict?

  1. Peta Malthouse Reply

    June 16, 2021 at 6:17 am

    Not only is it too high but the whole concept flies in the face of the quality design Guildford deserves.

    There is nothing modern or innovative about co-living and it causes another prime site to be nuilt for the purpose of student lets.

    Hard to find anything positive about this.

  2. Christopher Fairs Reply

    June 17, 2021 at 8:05 am

    Are those solar tiles on the roofs? I’m sure they must be.

    I have seen less attractive modern buildings, but these are a little lacklustre for such a commanding position.

    The projected residential profile might change one day, so I trust architects will incorporate the facility of joining two adjacent flats to make one, larger one.

    Whatever happens, the site could see a supermarket delivery driver usefully employed for a couple of days each week.

  3. Dave Middleton Reply

    June 17, 2021 at 1:01 pm

    Call me cynical, but this appears to be a back-door means to create yet more student accommodation in the town.

    We need two- and three-bedroomed homes for couples and families, not a glorified student hostel.

  4. Martin Elliott Reply

    June 19, 2021 at 1:44 pm

    Will GBC be able to add a codicil concerning the adjacent pub (The Canon) or will there be a chance of another noise abatement action by new tenants, if only minimum building standards are used?

    Not so long ago an office in Mill Lane, Guildford was converted into residential flats. Actions threatened to close The Star as a music venue as a result.

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