Guildford’s North Street regeneration scheme could start next year

Construction work on a major scheme to transform the centre of Guildford could begin next year.

Developers responsible for the North Street Regeneration project hope to apply for planning permission this summer, with work starting in 2021.

Guildford Borough Council and St Edwards, a subsidiary of Berkeley Homes, both own the four-acre brownfield site in the town centre.

The “fundamentally residential scheme” would see the main bus station move from its current position on Commercial Road adjacent to the Friary shopping centre, to Leapale Road.

This change would be made at no cost to the council, and a temporary bus station will be located in the Portsmouth Road car park while apartments are being erected.

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Most traffic would not be allowed to travel eastbound on North Street up the hill, as this route would be for buses, taxis and access only.

Woodbridge and Commercial Road will close permanently, but pedestrian paths will be created through the new complex.

Guildford Borough councillor John Rigg said although a public consultation began at the end of last year, the developer will have separate meetings with the council who undertake their own process.

He explained that residential units are crucial to revive the town centre.

Early indicative consideration of what a potential development on Guildford’s North Street might look like. Credit: JTP Architects
(Image: JTP ARCHITECTS)

He noted: “This is the seventh attempt to secure something on North Street, going back more than two decades.

“We are blessed as these developments would mainly have been retail, which today would be surplus to requirements.”

The ground floors will be used for commercial purposes.

However, the developers believe this space would best serve Guildford residents if it were not a traditional retail unit.

Tom Pocock, of St Edwards, explained: “Everyone has seen what has become of the High Street and retail market over a number of years, which has been exacerbated by the pandemic.

“We are thinking through some innovative uses for the ground floor space. So not just shops, but perhaps soft play centre or visitor attractions such as art galleries.”

Plans are still in the early phases, so it is not yet known how many properties will be delivered or the number made affordable.

Car park spaces will be provided in the building basements but there will not be “anywhere near one space per home” due to its proximity to public transport hubs.

Aerial view of the four acre North Street site that will be used for the regeneration project.
(Image: High Level Photography Ltd)

Cycling storage will be installed for residents, but also for those riding into town.

St Edwards intends to complete the new bus station and first apartments by 2025, and finish the entire scheme five years later.

Architect firm JTP plans to “reinstate the former glory back to North Street which has eroded over time.”

A theatre and brewery were two of the former uses of the North Street site.

Dominion House office block and All Bar One are within the area designated for the scheme.

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