Vision for Guildford's redevelopment deferred
By mattcollison | Friday, September 07, 2012, 15:48
AN ELEVENTH hour challenge to Guildford Borough Council's vision for the future of the town has forced a re-think.
Guildford Borough Council has delayed its decision on the vision for the town's redevelopment.
Councillors were due to make a decision on the Interim Town Centre Framework at an Executive meeting last night (September 6).
But the authority was forced to pull its masterplan for the town from the agenda following a last-minute challenge by Guildford Vision Group.
The steering group, comprised of local residents set up to oversee the project, have argued the council's vision is not adequate and does not sufficiently address traffic issues.
It has also raised questions about the planned increase in retail space as set out in the council's framework.
Mary Alexander of Guildford Vision Group said the decision should not be taken by members of the Executive alone.
She said in a letter to councillors: "This is too big a decision to be taken by the executive. The full council should be involved. We have to get this decision right. We already have empty shops in the town.
"Building houses would help the economy as a whole, and meanwhile we can see whether shops are really what we want."
Guildford Borough Council (GBC) said it decided to pull the item from its meeting following the challenge.
It has also deferred a decision on its design for North Street.
A GBC spokesperson said: "The Council only received notification of the challenge this afternoon – Thursday 6 September.
"As these are such important documents for the town, with a wide interest from our community and businesses, the only prudent course of action was to defer their consideration. This will allow us more time to address the issues raised and make sure councillors have the fullest range of advice before proceeding."
Cllr James Palmer, lead councillor for town centre, said: "It's a shame that this last minute challenge has delayed us from moving forward, especially as hundreds of local people, community groups and organisations have given their views in past consultations.
"We hope to be able to make progress and bring these items to a future meeting at the earliest opportunity. We also apologise if the very late notice meant that some members of the public wasted their time expecting these items to be discussed."