Guildford Borough Council’s lead councillor for planning said the council risked ‘failure’ if no major improvements were seen by 2020
BY MARK EDWARDS
Allies and Morrison have been leading masterplan work in Guildford
More than 500 homes could be built in Guildford town centre during the next five years.
Planners at Guildford Borough Council have identified “early win” sites that could be delivered within the first stage of the town’s masterplan, which is out for consultation until November 16.
Paul Spooner (pictured), lead councillor for planning, told Get Surrey if major improvements are not seen in the town centre by 2020, the council “would have failed”.
Plans for the first five years include 502 homes, 780sq/ms retail floor space and 7,416sq/ms space for leisure, offices and hotels.
“Early win” sites include 211 homes in Walnut Tree Close, 197 flats at the railway station along with a multi-storey car park and 75 homes at Woodbridge Meadows.
The largest retail space will be at Millmead where 1,272sq/m has been identified.
Last week, the West Surrey Strategic Housing Market Assessment was published, suggesting almost 700 homes were needed for Guildford each year until 2033.
Cllr Spooner said it was important to him to show early progress to residents.
“The masterplan will run over a long period of time – around 30 years – but we are focused on moving what was a vision with lots of nice pictures into the delivery phase,” he said.
“We have identified things in the short term where we have opportunities to progress. “This may be with our own land, where there are opportunities from a retail or housing perspective.
“We are very much looking in terms of the river and ways to improve that area.”
The railway station area of Guildford has been earmarked as one of the best sites for early development, with plans generally agreed.
“With regards to the station, we are working with members and developers to try to agree the most attractive and aspirational way of upgrading the station,” said Cllr Spooner.
“Work has been ongoing for some time, so in general terms that is agreed but we are working on details.”
One of the biggest barriers to redevelopment of the river side is floodplains, with Cllr Spooner admitting planners are being extremely careful about what is placed on these sites.
However, showing early progress on the masterplan is a priority for the council in order to restore confidence in the local authority after failed plans in the past.
Cllr Spooner said: “In the last 50 years, the council has announced many different plans and not delivered in any great form and we want to assure people this time that the whole council and all parties are behind delivering this masterplan.
“Moving from a nice set of pictures into actual delivery and providing a better space for Guildford is a priority.
“We need to show that we can deliver in both the short-term and long-term.
“In five years’ time, we would expect your readers and our community to absolutely see positive improvements already delivered in Guildford, on both an accommodation level and leisure level. If that has not be achieved, then we have failed.”
Last year, Solum submitted an application for a £150m redevelopment of the railway station site, which included a 14-storey tower block, 450 homes, shops and a multi-storey car park.
The applicant is currently reviewing the masterplan and public comments made relating to it, with a view of submitting amendments to the scheme.