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Submission Local Plan: Strategy and Sites - Main Modifications

Submission Local Plan: Strategy and Sites - Main Modifications - Part 1: Policies

Policy S3: Delivery of development and regeneration within Guildford Town Centre


4.1.12 Guildford town centre has a unique setting and historic character and is the largest retail, service, administrative and commercial centre in the county of Surrey (measured by floorspace and number of units[11]). With good transport accessibility by rail and road, it is one of the key town centres in the South East outside of London.

4.1.13 The town centre is centred on two linear features, the River Wey, and the High Street that rises up the valley side from Town Bridge. Related to this, the centre has striking topography, with attractive views to the surrounding countryside south and east of the town centre. It is renowned for its picturesque historic High Street and lanes off it, known as 'gates' which link the High Street, the Castle and the other key shopping street, North Street. The setting and the historic street pattern in the central area of the town centre are a vital part of its special character as is the range and concentration of heritage assets.

4.1.14 The NPPF states that policies should recognise that residential development often plays an important role in ensuring the vitality of centres and therefore should encourage residential development on appropriate sites. The Council is committed to ensuring that the policies and allocations within the Local Plan, including those within the Guildford Town Centre, are deliverable and its objectives are realised over the plan period. Furthermore, the Council remains committed to supporting any further opportunities for future development and regeneration within the town centre that reinforces its important role and function. The Guildford Town Centre is intended to function as the key focus for a more intense vibrant mix of uses including residential, office, retail, leisure, tourism, entertainment, and arts and cultural facilities.

4.1.15 The Council is facilitating the delivery of development through a range of proactive measures. These include:

  • Driving and unlocking key development projects that form a basis for the delivery of the Local Plan (such as at North Street, A6; Guildford Park Road and Bright Hill car parks, A11 and A12);
  • Playing a lead role, working with other delivery partners, in infrastructure interventions that realise growth and regeneration opportunities;
  • Advancing and collaborating on key regeneration opportunities as part of the Guildford Town Centre Regeneration Strategy, which include leveraging its own landholdings as part of efforts to promote mixed use and higher density development supporting the vitality and vibrancy of the town centre.

4.1.16 In undertaking and further to these actions, the Council will explore the use of a range of mechanisms at its disposal to support regeneration and the accelerated development of housing and mixed-use schemes. These include using, where appropriate, compulsory purchase powers, granting permission in principle, assisting in land assembly and playing a coordinating role with its development partners around development opportunities.

4.1.17 The borough's town centre will form the key focus for these measures to support and accelerate growth in this sustainable location and maximise the use of previously developed land. This will occur with careful attention to the Local Plan's design policies, Development Management policies, the provisions of any possible future Area Action Plan, as well as relevant SPDs including guidance on strategic views into and out of the town centre which will help to guide the appropriate location, form, scale and massing of development.

POLICY S3: Delivery of development and regeneration within Guildford Town Centre

Coordination of development in the Town Centre

(1) Development proposals will be encouraged to seek opportunities to enable the future development potential of adjacent sites and not undermine their development potential.

More efficient use of land and the acceleration of housing delivery

(2) Major applications will be expected to deliver a mix of uses and include residential development. Residential development in mixed use schemes will be expected to meet identified housing need. 

(3) Schemes must demonstrate that they have made the most efficient use of land both in terms of the quantum of development and the mix of uses.

(4) In seeking to achieve more efficient use of land and/or accelerated housing delivery and/or regeneration, the Council will where appropriate utilise mechanisms such as its compulsory purchase powers.

Place shaping and character and design of new development

(5) New development will have regard to:

(a) the provisions of Policy D1;
(b) the historic environment, street pattern and topography;
(c) important views into and out of the town centre from the surrounding landscape;
(d) views within the town centre of important historic buildings and local landmarks.

(6) Schemes must demonstrate high quality urban design and contribute wherever possible to achieving:

(a) mixed use developments with active ground floor uses;
(b) defined public and private spaces which are well-enclosed;
(c) an attractive and safe public realm;
(d) legible routes that are easy to understand and to move through, and give priority to pedestrians and cyclists over motor vehicles;
(e) improved access and views to the River Wey.


Reasoned justification

4.1.18 Our Corporate Plan (2018-2023) identifies regenerating and improving Guildford town centre and other urban areas as one of three strategic priorities supporting its "Place Making" theme. Key projects to support this and the delivery of the Local Plan include:

(a) Facilitating the delivery of a major new mixed development in North Street
(b) Implementing the vision of the Town Centre Regeneration Strategy
(c) Improving the public realm, including surfaces, in key town centre areas


4.1.19 This policy and the Town Centre Regeneration Strategy will help deliver the following objectives:

(a) enhance the vibrancy of Guildford Town Centre
(b) create and foster high quality design
(c) protect the town's heritage and overall feel
(d) respect existing townscape at both the street and roof level
(e) create an enhanced and more positive public realm
(f) reduce the concrete environment atmosphere
(g) realise the Council's 'drive to, not through' concept to reduce the impact of traffic in the town centre, complementing future environmental improvements
(h) link the Town Centre to the train station
(i) open up the River Wey and improve connections to the river
(j) assist in meeting Guildford's housing demand
(k) ensure schemes are sustainable and do not lock future development potential
(l) promote and create an investment friendly environment


4.1.20 Whilst the Council will play a key coordinating role aimed at achieving delivery of development and regeneration, working with partners such as Surrey County Council, Network Rail and the National Trust, the private sector is central to this process. It is important that schemes that seek planning permission are conceived and designed in a manner that considers regeneration opportunities beyond the boundaries of the site. Collaboration between adjacent and surrounding property owners in the Guildford town centre, including efforts that seek to maximise regeneration opportunities through mutually supportive design elements, uses and access arrangements are supported.

4.1.21 The delivery of housing in the town centre adds to its vitality and vibrancy. The Council regards the town centre as critical in terms of meeting needs for main town centre uses. This includes high trip generating uses such as offices and retail, where there are opportunities to encourage linked trips and maximise the use of public transport networks. However, the town centre also represents the most sustainable location for new higher density housing. Whilst the Local Plan provides for sufficient sites to meet housing needs over the plan period, as part of regeneration efforts, more housing is likely to come forward over the plan period. It is important that this occurs in a manner that makes the most of its central location and is thus developed at a density that maximises its sustainability benefits whilst responding to heritage, design and flooding considerations. Consideration should also be given to the potential to minimise the provision of car parking where this can help optimise the density of development.

4.1.22 The Council will support mixed use development, which can retain or re-provide retail, leisure and employment uses/floorspace in the town centre, in line with national and Local Plan policies. This will help ensure the efficient use of land and presents an opportunity to enhance the vitality of the town centre and increase delivery of homes in sustainable locations.

4.1.23 Enhancing the vitality and vibrancy of the town centre cannot occur solely though more intense uses, nor greater numbers of residents. A quality public realm needs to support day-to-day activities, peoples' well-being, safety and sense of place and forms the basis for the area's attractiveness to residents, workers and visitors.

4.1.24 The public realm includes publicly-owned streets, squares, pathways, parks, publicly accessible open spaces, right of ways, and any public or private building and facilities that are accessible by all. Whilst parts of the town centre reflect high quality public environments, there are areas where this could be improved. This is often in areas that represent opportunities for regeneration and intensification of development.

4.1.25 The enhancement of the public realm and its amenity value will ensure the town centre becomes an even more attractive place to live, work and visit and will be a key component of the area's regeneration. This could occur through a range of interventions such as improving surfacing of public space, providing more generous pedestrian environments, landscaping, street furniture, lighting and public art. The Council will seek contributions toward the improvement of the public realm from developments, where appropriate. The Council will also continue working with Surrey County Council to implement measures that deliver public realm enhancements.


Key Evidence

  • The Guildford Town Centre Regeneration Strategy (Guildford Borough Council, 2017)


Monitoring Indicators



Data source

The number of new homes completed each year in the town centre


Planning applications and appeals




[11] Experian