A robust plan to revive Guildford town centre and restore it as the flourishing and vibrant jewel in the borough’s crown was unanimously agreed by councillors at a meeting of the Executive last night.

Economic growth and regeneration sit at the heart of the initiative to invigorate our county town which includes a proactive masterplan delivered by a dedicated board of specialist officers, councillors and consultants. Specific areas of improvement will be:

• Economic resilience
• Transport (all modes)
• Housing Delivery
• Environment, Public Realm and Climate Change
• Society and Arts
• Flood Defence

The plan will address prevailing conditions which have negatively affected the town centre including reviewing infrastructure and our lack of open spaces along the River Wey. It will be responsive to climate change, current traffic levels and environmental issues. It will review the retail downturn and hopes to deliver sustainable communities as set out in Guildford’s adopted Local Plan and to build economic resilience for the town.

Lead Councillor for Regeneration Cllr John Rigg said: ‘I am very pleased we are moving forward with a tangible plan to revitalise and restore our town centre while preserving its attraction for the next generations. By taking a masterplan approach to regeneration we will consider all areas from transport to heritage and homes. We will work to ensure the centre recovers not only from the impact of the Coronavirus (Covid 19) outbreak but from its recent decline. Our ambition is to make Guildford great for everyone.’

He adds: ‘The future is our young people and those growing up here or moving into the area. They want affordable sustainable living with high quality public space, leisure and cultural experiences and we aim to deliver this vision. We’re using the same model as the Weyside Urban Village project currently underway which will transform the Slyfield area just outside the town centre.’

The Leader of the Council Cllr Caroline Reeves agreed to the initiation of the board earlier in the year. She said: ‘This programme has significant benefits for our communities and businesses now more than ever. Tackling the environmental constraints facing the town such as the issue of flooding and the economic pressures on many of the sectors which trade here – such as hospitality and the arts –  are problems we must focus on as part of our recovery.  The masterplan will play a key role in evolving our historic county town to continue to meet the ever-changing needs of our residents, businesses and visitors alike. We will engage with our residents and businesses as our plans progress to ensure that we produce what is best for Guildford.’