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north street guildford


Response to North Street Development consultation 


Planning Scrutiny Group, Guildford, Surrey. 


Dear St Edward, 


Please find below our initial thoughts on what we have heard so far about the North Street development.


Green space and urban design  - general considerations


  • Green space: Residential properties will require access to green space, whether shared between a small number of properties, or private. 


  • Space for growing vegetables: if different height buildings were developed, rooftops of lower roofs be utilised in addition to ground space. 


  • Line the streets with trees and make green barriers for cycle paths if they are designed to be alongside cars (hedges).


Climate change adaptation planning:


This is an essential part of the planning process. With the UK climate set to become more like southern europe in the next 30-40 years, it’s important that the architecture is adequately thought out. 


During heatwaves, some poorly designed residential blocks have been at best uncomfortable, and at worst dangerously overheated.  Green infrastructure, as well as other natural features can help lower urban environments by a considerable amount (see link below)


  • Shade - adding trees will create shade. 


  • Waterways and fountains could be used to help cool the environment, help biodiversity, and amenity for residents (a space for children to play in the summer months).  (appendix A) 


  • Atriums/central courtyards with pillared walkways could help improve cooling, provide shade, and create attractive spaces. 






  • Green walls would improve biodiversity like in Woking (see Appendix B), or vertical forests to absorb pollutants like those by Stafano Boeri Architects in Milan (see Appendix C).  Not only does this improve the living environment for the residents, but due to increasing awareness of climate change, people want to be  part of and live in sustainable accommodation.


  • Biodiversity rich public park with wildflower corridors and a pond or rainwater garden (Appendix D) 


  • Grass roof for bus station and create greenery around it to make a pleasant environment. At the moment people don’t want to use the bus because of the unappealing concrete building. 


  • Wild areas - e.g  for wildflowers (See appendix D)




  • Pile foundations: The high rise buildings for the town centre location are likely to require pile foundations. Will the option of geothermal piles be considered?


  • Carbon emissions: this is a great opportunity to push further than your stated target of reducing "carbon emissions of our homes by 40% between 2019 and 2030". It is a blank slate with fantastic opportunities for providing renewable power, and ensure that the building materials, and designs used,  maximise insulation for both heating and cooling. 


  • Water: Are there plans to harvest rainwater? Blue roofs?


  • The Oxford Energy Superhub shows the innovation possible and what is also needed for a town centre Guildford development.

  • Round buildings have traditionally been used to maximize space and energy efficiency. 


Q1: Will organic forms be considered?


Q2: Could you confirm what options you are considering for heating, cooling and power generation on the site for all premises?


Q3: What thought is being given to the hottest months of the year, and how best to keep buildings cool without using high energy solutions like A/C?


Q4: How will outdoor lighting be designed to help sleep patterns and reduce light pollution?



Sustainable travel


  • Cycling: We are disappointed that the north street regeneration website does not currently mention cycling. We would like to see provision for all types of bicycle, scooter and bicycle trailers; secure storage with charge points for e-bikes and e-scooter, space for tricycles, cargo bikes, bicycles with child trailers, bicycles for those with mobility problems. The shared use of bicycle cargo trailers would be innovative and useful. Guildford currently has no cargo bike storage. 


  • Integrated active travel: 


- The development should have separate cycle and pedestrian paths linked seamlessly with existing and planned infrastructure outside the site boundary. We support closing Commercial road and Woodbridge road to through traffic to enhance the pedestrian experience of north street. However this will push more traffic onto narrow Chertsey Street which is currently the main cycling route into town from the north side of town (Bellfields and Jacobs Well direction). A new segregated cycling route will be required from the Stoke Rd interchange into the center of town so as not to increase the danger to cyclists.


- Cycling and walking should be given the highest priority, followed by public transport. 


  • EV charging points. As above, the ecological emergency demands a reduction in consumption, and as such, active travel and public transport must be prioritised over private car transport. Private cars are a very inefficient way of transporting people - and are parked for over 90% of the time, taking up precious space. EVs may reduce emissions when used, but they involve a large carbon footprint to produce, as well as damage to ecosystems, and perpetuate the car paradigm that has caused so much damage. The North Street site has good access to public transport, and as such should not need private car transport. 


  • The new bus station: this should be sited closer to the railway station to improve connectivity. Moving it further away, to Leapale road makes changing from bus to train more difficult. The Bedford road car park area is much closer to the station than the north street development and would be more suited. Consideration should be given to the walking route between the train and the bus station, that doesn’t involve walking across the gyratory. 


  • The gyratory: this is a major problem for active travel, and for the integration of Guildford and makes active travel much less feasible. It severs the town. Guildford Vision had set out a vision to pedestrianise that area. 





  • Shared spaces - maximise the use of resources: 


- Co-working spaces - perhaps integrated into the different blocks of housing?

- Community spaces (e.g community growing space,  and community centres for holding meetings, exercise classes, screening films etc.)

- For residential  - create more co-living spaces (appendix F) e.g - roof spaces to hang out laundry,  laundry rooms, and co-living type spaces (shared chill out areas, cooking areas to reduce the need for so much individual machinery) to combine with smaller private studios/flats. 


  • Mixed use spaces - play areas, maybe outdoor gyms for the elderly?


- Architecture/style height of buildings/resources:


  • Mixed height buildings, perhaps a pillar walkway/ pergola walkways with plants could be considered. Could the walkways be continued to give better access to station with walkway above road if location of bus station cannot be changed?



Building Materials

Q5: Will whole life carbon calculations be carried out for all parts of the site?


Q6: What materials will be used? What consideration is being given to the lifecycle of the materials and the availability locally?


  • Cooling: Stone is a high density material, and as such is very effective in maintaining cool environments, and is an attractive building material which would add character to the area.  See appendix E (taken in Edinburgh). What considerations about ventilation / natural air flow will be given? For example, overhead fans are often used as a good way to circulate air. 


  • Foundations are likely to need to be concrete. Please ensure concrete with a high proportion of fly ash or ground granulated blastfurnace slag (GGBS) are used as this reduces the carbon content of the cement by up to 74%. Steel can easily be recycled at the end of a building’s life.


  • Q7 - Windows - will photovoltaic windows be used to generate electricity?

We look forward to your response, and sharing in the consultation process. 



Yours Faithfully, 



XR Planning Scrutiny Group, Guildford. 



Appendix A



Appendix B


Green wall in nearby Woking


Appendix C

Vertical forests to absorb pollutants by Stafano Boeri Architects in Milan


Appendix D



Appendix E



Appendix F 

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