Guildford Borough Council and St Edward Homes, a joint venture company owned by the Berkeley Group and M&G Real Estate, brought forward plans for the regeneration of the five acre North Street site in Guildford town centre. If planning permission was granted then GBC would sell its ownership in part of the site to the developer. The scheme included housing (very little affordable), tower blocks ranging from 8 to 14 stories (later reduced to 13) and a revamped bus station with buses entering and leaving from the North entrance to allow for a square at the southern end
See also: The Future of Guildford Town Centre
The regeneration of Guildford’s North Street area has hit a big hurdle after councillors voted against the plans on 11th January. (Source: Guildford Dragon)
The refusal came after Housing Secretary and MP for nearby Surrey Heath, Michael Gove, made clear he wanted the final say in the decision were it given the green light.
A meeting of the borough council’s planning committee on Wednesday (January 11) debated issues such as affordable housing, building height and the character of the town, before a tie in the votes meant it had to be decided by the chair.
The plans included 473 new homes, most of them one and two-beds, as well as space for shops and cafes, new public squares and updates to the town’s bus station. The Council is divided over the issue. Parties voted on political lines with the Lib Dem vote being critical.
Update November 2022
In August there exhibition on the proposed development which includes tower blocks ranging from 8 to 14 stories, much higher than anything Guildford currently has. As the Guildford Dragon article states Guildfordians are divided on whether they like it or not. Some, including the Guildford Society are arguing that we risk ruining the town with a new wave of tall buildings
Guildford Borough Council released the following statement below on the long awaited North Street Development on 19th February.
Guildford Borough Council and St Edward Homes, a joint venture company owned by the Berkeley Group and M&G Real Estate, are set to bring forward plans for the regeneration of the five acre North Street site in Guildford town centre.
The redevelopment, which will be the subject of a full public consultation, is expected to include a new bus station, alongside a network of welcoming public squares and green spaces.
This new pedestrian and cycle friendly environment would be well connected with the surrounding town centre and brought to life with biodiverse planting and a mix of shops, bars, cafes and leisure uses.
The site, which was once home to Guildford’s Friary Brewery, could see its brewing traditions revived through the developer’s vision to create a new micro-brewery. The rich history of North Street as a farmer’s market will be celebrated through a bespoke and playful public art strategy.
The proposals are set to include a mix of new homes, which will include affordable homes for the local community.
At the heart of the scheme would be a new bus station, providing a modern and welcoming gateway to the town centre. The road network around the site is also set to be reconfigured to create better conditions for pedestrians and cyclists.
Leader of the Council, Cllr Caroline Reeves said: ‘Redeveloping this site has been our long-term ambition and working alongside St Edward Homes gives us the opportunity to realise this. They will use public engagement and the concept of placemaking to ensure the area is inspirational and full of vitality capturing the needs and aspirations of residents, businesses and visitors while reflecting and enhancing our beautifully historic town. Their focus on addressing climate change through development aligns with the Council’s priorities.’
Lead Councillor for Major Projects, Cllr John Rigg said: ‘We are currently in the early stages of the project which will be built to the highest quality urban design principles. We will ensure the public are fully involved in the design process at each stage through extensive consultation. Residents, businesses and visitors will all have the chance to have their say on the detail of the design.’
Kevin Lorimer, Chairman of Experience Guildford, (Business Improvement District) said: ‘Businesses in the town welcome the extra vibrancy this development will bring. Energising this tired area of the town will increase footfall and encourage spending on leisure and shopping. Impressive town centre regeneration projects like this will help ensure people continue to choose Guildford to live, work and visit.’
Trevor Hankin, Fund Manager M&G Real Estate, said ‘Bringing in the extensive development experience of St Edward Homes, which combines the expertise of Berkeley Homes and M&G Real Estate together with Guildford Borough Council, is a major step forward in unlocking this unique regeneration opportunity in Guildford Town Centre.
‘It has the potential to act as a catalyst for the resurgence of the town centre into a place where people live, work, shop and spend their leisure time. M&G Real Estate has a long and proud track record of investing in Guildford and we look forward to working with the community to deliver this exciting new development.’
Tony Pidgley CBE, Chairman of the Berkeley Group, said: ‘We’re delighted to be collaborating with Guildford Borough Council to transform this partially redundant site into a beautiful new part of the town centre with a mix of homes, jobs and beautiful public spaces.
‘The council has a fantastic vision for Guildford’s future and we look forward to working in partnership with them and the local community to shape these exciting plans. We want to create a welcoming, sustainable and biodiverse place with the amenities local people need and care about most.
‘We also share the council’s focus on tackling climate change and want this to be a low carbon development which has a positive and lasting impact on the town centre environment.’
Published on Wednesday 19 February.