Railway at heart of Guildford’s revamp route map

Guildford high street
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Council to unveil 18-year plan with station largest of 25 sites

Plans to revamp Guildford town centre are to be unveiled later this month. The council is in the process of drawing up a masterplan for the next 18 years, which it hopes will enable several brownfield sites in the town to be developed coherently.

The key aim is to establish a boundary in which to focus town centre uses, such as additional shops. A spokeswoman for Guildford Borough Council says:

“The proposed area on which we will be consulting is bounded by Guildford Park Road to the west side of Guildford railway station, York Road and London Square, Cross Lanes to the north, the eastern end of the High Street to the east, and Millbrook car park to the south.”

“Several potential brownfield sites, in both public and private ownership, are being considered. Opportunities and uses are being explored.” Among the sites are Guildford railway station and the Friary shopping centre extension.

In January the council refused revamp plans put forward for the latter by joint owners Westfield and Hermes. The area around North Street has been identified as “a key area needing investment in site redevelopment and wider public realm improvements”.

The council says it is too early to estimate what the improvements might cost. The masterplan will consider 25 sites – the regeneration of the railway station is the biggest. This scheme is being implemented by Solum Regeneration, a partnership between Network Rail and Kier Property, which is already redeveloping Epsom railway station and its surrounds.

An initial public consultation about the 18 acre Guildford site in March yielded particular enthusiasm for a railway pedestrian bridge and better retail and restaurant provision around the railway station.

Concern was also expressed about road congestion around the town and the need for the bus network to be better connected to the railway station. Locals have also complained that much of the space near the station is only used for parking.

Previous schemes have failed to materialise. It is thought that plans to develop using the air rights over the eight railway tracks proved too costly. However, Simon Rutter, regeneration director at Solum, is confident the scheme will soon be under way:

“The project at Epsom demonstrates that Solum has the skills to knit together a mix of uses and deal with the complexities that the railway environment brings to a scheme. We will now be looking at working up a scheme with deliverability as one of our key drivers.”

Guildford is one of several stations being developed in London and the south-east as part of Solum’s regeneration scheme. Maidstone East is one of the next stations earmarked for development.

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