Balancing old and new – Guildford’s challenge

Features Posted 10/02/17
As the UK prepares to face Brexit and all that entails, towns across the country are trying to remain buoyant and maintain an upward trend in regeneration. In this special focus, we look at what’s going on in key towns across the south east – Ashford in Kent, Guildford in Surrey and Crawley in Sussex.

Guildford is already a thriving and high-performing regional centre, but it must continue to forge ahead to secure a strong, vibrant future for its communities, businesses and economy.

Leader of Guildford Borough Council Cllr Paul Spooner says: “Leading change, encouraging investment and embracing innovation are fundamental to moving forward for continued success. Ensuring Guildford’s prosperity now and for future generations, relies on a comprehensive and integrated approach to unlocking the economic advantages of regeneration.”

Guildford has one of the most successful local economies in the UK, making a substantial contribution to the national economy. It scored highly in the EM3 Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) study on the attractiveness of locations for inward investment, so it is clear there is untapped potential.

Although the town’s geography is complex, opportunities to link public realm with attractive and historic environments through key sites such as the riverside, North Street and Guildford Railway Station make it a key destination for contemporary shopping, business, leisure and homes.

The borough council’s Town Centre Regeneration Strategy, published in January, builds on feedback from local people and businesses and outlines a structured way to improve and invest in the town centre.

Cllr Spooner added: “There are great opportunities, as well as challenges, in making the most of our dynamic and attractive town by revitalising under-used areas and bringing the riverside to life. Our new strategy is a long-term look at how we could deliver significant and meaningful improvements, balanced with protecting Guildford’s unique character.”

Making the vision a reality will take time and appropriate investment. This flexible strategy will continue to evolve as we deliver the schemes that make effective transformation possible. It will adapt over time to take account of new opportunities, external pressures, physical constraints and evolving priorities.

Working alongside the borough’s Draft Local Plan, the new strategy provides an aspirational framework with proposed funding for individual projects of over £200 million. Strategic partners will help deliver the key ambitions for the town including:

  • A new community riverside park
  • Improved road networks and sustainable transport models
  • Housing and business balanced with traditional town centre uses.

Work on some of the individual schemes that will benefit the town are already underway. This includes the new Walnut Tree Bridge, to streamline and improve pedestrian and cycle access from the main train station. Planning permission for a mixed-use development on Guildford Park Road car park brings an exciting opportunity for new homes and improved services on council-owned brownfield land.

A thriving town is not just about change – or an economic and competitive imperative. Guildford is uniquely placed to build on its existing high-performance, strong economy and attractive setting to benefit everyone who lives, works or visits here - now and in the future.

Let us know what you think of these planned areas of development

Click here to read about Ashford, Crawley and how Gallagher are seeing continuing growth

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