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Guildford station redevelopment thrown out for being too "monolithic"

Published: Thursday, 14th July 2016

Council rules that the scale of the proposals would be "detrimental to the setting", as residents flag concerns over its affordable housing provision…

Guildford Borough Council has rejected proposals for the redevelopment of the town’s railway station with a mixed use development backed by Network Rail after criticizing the scheme’s “monolithic scale and unrelieved mass”.

Developer Solum Generation’s £150m scheme involved proposals for 438 flats, a new station building and concourse, shops, a multi-storey car-park and a new station plaza. The 2.2 hectare site is on the eastern side of the existing railway station and currently has two-storey elements. The developer is a partnership between Network Rail and Kier Property.

The proposals involved eight development blocks running north-south through the site parallel to the railway tracks. The new buildings would vary in height from six to ten storeys. Initial plans had some of the buildings taller, with one at 15 storeys.

The scheme was heavily criticized by Guildford residents who objected both its look and the fact it did not meet the council’s expectation of 35 per cent affordable housing. The developers said the scheme would not be viable with a provision of more than ten percent affordable units.

The council refused the proposals after accepting the conclusion of officers that “the proposed development, by virtue of its monolithic scale, unbroken length, largely uniform height and unrelieved mass, would appear as a dominant and incongruous feature in the townscape and would be detrimental to the setting and the significance of heritage assets like the listed Guildford Cathedral and the Jellico Roof Garden”.

Roger Milne