Artistic impression of proposed changes near the George Abbot pub in Guildford’s town centre
More than 2,000 homes, improvements to the gyratory, pedestrianisation of roads, and a waterside park are all part of plans to redevelop Guildford town centre.
The long awaited draft of the Guildford Town Centre Masterplan has been published ahead of a public consultation in October.
The plan, which cost £290,000 to put together and was compiled by Allies & Morrison, aims to transform underused areas of the town, with new homes, shops, hotels, offices and leisure space.
The document details house building in the town centre for the next 16 years and beyond.
It is estimated 502 homes could be built within the first five years, 1,743 from year six to 10, 135 from year 11 to 15, and 171 more in 16 years time.
A key part of the documents includes improvements to Guildford’s riverside, with one option to replace the existing Portsmouth Road car park near to the George Abbot pub with a new green.
“The George Abbot public house will be retained as the key building on the corner of a new town centre green, replacing the existing Portsmouth Road car park,” the plan states.
“This project can be introduced as a short term quick win through the installation of temporary landscaping and pop-up uses, pending more complete transformation in the medium to long term.”
There are options for improvement to the gyratory, which is described as a “major blight on the central part of the River Wey”.
It is hoped changes to the gyratory could “open up valuable riverside land and to reconnect the town centre with the river by removing traffic from Millbrook”.
“It is intended to shift the balance from a traffic-dominated environment to enable new development and public space along the riverside,” the document states.
“This option reduces road space available for traffic, and therefore it requires a supporting strategy to reduce traffic through the town centre to minimise the impacts.
“This will be achieved through wider transport improvements to encourage use of other modes (e.g. walk, cycle, park-and-ride) and by encouraging drivers to park on the edge of the town centre rather than driving through the gyratory.
“It may also require limiting traffic entry to the gyratory, for example, traffic (with the exception of buses) would be prohibited from entering the gyratory via Farnham Road and Walnut Tree Close.”
Artistic impressions of how Guildford could be transformed under the draft Town Centre Masterplan
Elements of the masterplan will become a key part in the wider 20 year Local Plan for the whole borough.
It will also influence plans for the much-maligned plans to redevelop North Street.
Councillor Paul Spooner, lead councillor for planning, said: “The draft Town Centre Masterplan puts forward a radical vision for Guildford’s future, based on local people’s clearly-expressed wishes.
“Our borough’s success has been built on the far-sighted and brave decisions of past generations.
“Now is the time for us all to show the same conviction, by thinking big and investing in the town’s future.
“This is still very much a work in progress, so we look forward to hearing people’s views on the proposals.
“Feedback and suggestions from the public will help us to create a plan that can support Guildford’s growth, prosperity and quality of life for the rest of this century.”
The plans also focus on new car parking, including a multi-storey at Guildford Park Road, new hotels, and improvements to the town’s entertainment offerings such as the cinema.
“The provision of good quality hotel rooms in the town centre is a particular priority to support the broader leisure market and the office market,” the draft plan states.
“There is identified capacity and interest in approximately six additional screens in Guildford.
“The current Odeon building arguably represents a poor use of a riverside site.”
Councillor Stephen Mansbridge, leader of the council, added: “We want Guildford to be a better place to live, work and visit.
“The draft masterplan proposes some exciting designs to regenerate the town centre and secure a vibrant future.
“We’re committed to delivering what the town and borough need for the benefit of local people.”
The council’s customer and community scrutiny committee will consider the masterplan on September 8, before the executive committee reviews and approves the final draft for consultation on September 29.