Less than 30 miles from London and nearly completely surrounded by an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Guildford has a lot to recommend it as a town. However, that doesn’t mean there is no room for improvement. With nearby Woking having redeveloped its town centre recently, questions are now being raised over whether Guildford could benefit from a similar project, with plans for major regeneration in the North Street area.
Why should Guildford be revamped?
Not every part of Guildford is as modern and inviting as it could be. Some people think that North Street is a tired area that could benefit from some kind of regeneration. The redevelopment would not just be aesthetic. This part of the town is often busy because of heavy traffic. It can be difficult and sometimes outright dangerous for pedestrians to navigate, as well as causing problems with parking and pollution. Pedestrianising the area could make it safer, encourage people to take the healthier option of walking and may have a positive effect on market commerce. An improved bus interchange and parking spaces with charging points for electric vehicles could also contribute to sustainability.
The development in Woking was multiuse, incorporating residential, retail and leisure facilities to suit the widest number of people. Guildford has similar aims. The proposals for North Street include 473 residential homes atop commercial and community spaces. A medical centre will be included. Attention to outdoor space includes plants, trees (with bird and bat boxes) and a water feature where children can play as part of 1.6 acres of landscaping.
This outdoor space aims to create a welcoming and friendly environment that is easy and pleasant to navigate for residents and consumers, including families with children and people with limited mobility. Community spaces also aim to welcome everyone. The residential properties will include sustainable features that meet modern housing and environmental concerns. It seems that conveyancing solicitors Guildford such as those at Sam Conveyancing are likely to welcome the plans and the additional business they will bring.
What are the arguments against it?
Some people may think that the multi-million pound regeneration is expensive, although it will be funded by the developer. The developer first began consulting in 2020 and in 2022 is still having to modify the proposals. If they go ahead, it is going to mean a lot of disruption to Guildford town centre, with noise, road closures and construction traffic at minimum. There is no guarantee just how long this disruption will last.
Many people are attached to Guildford town centre as it currently is and are worried that redevelopment will destroy its character and turn it into a different sort of place. The changes are seen as going far beyond a lick of paint and instead represent a fundamental reshaping of the town. Developers have listened to some of these concerns and have modified some of their plans so that new buildings will not be as large, but it will still have a significant impact.
Public consultation on the proposals to revamp Guildford are still ongoing, so it is not certain yet whether they will receive approval. It seems likely that there will be some form of regeneration project, although its exact nature is yet to be confirmed.