Frequently asked questions
Have a question about the Blackwell Park project? Then hopefully your question will be answered below in our frequently asked questions.
The University’s current intention is to submit a planning application sometime after the Local Plan has been adopted. The Guildford Borough Local plan which includes Blackwell Farm was formally adopted on 25 April 2019. Further updates will follow.
Throughout the full Local Plan process, there has been a number of opportunities for local people to examine all proposals on the table, including the one put forward by the University.
Public consultations will be factored in to the planning process, and it is the University’s intention to ensure that local people have full access to its proposals at the appropriate time, so that they can make an informed opinion about the plans. The first public exhibition took place on 8 March 2019 and further details can be found at here
In the meantime, the University will continue working with its team of highly experienced professionals to truly understand the potential of the land within its ownership and draw conclusions about how best to use the land with a view to submitting a planning application at the appropriate time.
This really depends on the final form and amount of development and it is too early to say. There are likely to be considerable upfront and ongoing costs involved and the University may not see a return for many years.
All surplus funds generated from developing Blackwell Farm will be invested back into the University’s charitable purposes - jobs, education and the public good in Guildford.
It is not presently intended that there would be new academic buildings on Blackwell Park. The University has land available for academic buildings and student residences on its Manor Park site.
Other universities such as Oxford and Cambridge have landholdings that have been used for development of housing and the creation of mixed use communities which include housing, employment land, and community and recreation facilities.
We plan a similar approach to these, and we are examining other examples to see what lessons can be learnt that would benefit the development.
To develop the site in its entirety is likely to take at least ten years from now. We are closely following the local plan timeline prior to a planning application being made. The Guildford Borough Local plan which includes Blackwell Farm was formally adopted on 25 April 2019.
We are keen to develop this land carefully and considerately with the development occurring in several phases.
We envisage a full range of house types, sizes and tenures. The market will shift over time but at this stage we see a real need for smaller homes for young families who are unable to buy homes or rent in this area.
Yes, the Local Plan requires a proportion of affordable housing on the site, which means housing for specified eligible households whose needs are not met by the market.
The University is looking at the scope for ensuring key workers are included in the specified eligible households.
The University’s existing plans do not include being the landlord for all housing on the site, although we are keen to see some rental housing retained for rental to staff of the University and other key local institutions (including the hospital and Research Park).
The housing that would be built on the site would be general purpose housing across a range of sizes and tenures with potential for all members of the local community. Our primary goal for student accommodation is to build further units on our Manor Park and Stag Hill campuses.
The University owns just over five hectares of land that is used for parking cars on its campuses. These sites are predominantly located on Stag Hill and include sites designated for future academic expansion.
It is not appropriate for these areas to be used for residential market accommodation owing to the relatively inconsequential size, the location and the fact that the land is being used for employment.
The University’s plans for Blackwell Park include 1,800 new homes of all sizes, types, tenure and affordability(1500 to be built within the plan period). This would include affordable rented housing for eligible key workers from local institutions such as the Hospital and the University.
In 2004, The University was given outline planning permission to build, over time, a mixed use development on its land at Manor Park.
The Planning and Design Statement gave indications of what was likely to be used for academic purposes, leisure purposes and 145,200 square metres of residential accommodation for students and staff.
It was anticipated that the permission would be sufficient to meet the University’s longer term academic requirements and allow for approximately 4,171 bed spaces.
There are a great number of matters that affect exactly what is built and when and both the statement and permission were clear about this figure being an estimation rather than an obligation or a commitment.
The University has a strong track record of providing quality accommodation for thousands of staff and students on its campus.
There are currently 5,996 student bed spaces on campus, including over 3,000 bedrooms that have been built since 2004 at a cost of approximately £160m as well as a £6m annual programme refurbishing existing accomodation. Additionally the University manages 523 bed spaces under a head lease scheme off campus. Construction work has completed on the 1,153 new student bedrooms on the University of Surrey's Manor Park campus at a cost of £80m. The first 500 rooms opened in September 2018 with the balance opening a year later in September 2019.
The new rooms will bring the total student accommodation on Manor Park to a little over 3,000 units. A third phase of the student village is now being planned for delivery post 2019 to take the Manor Park campus to its full student residential outline planning permission of a little over 4,000.
The University provides proportionately more student accommodation on its site than 95% of Universities in the country, with further developments scheduled to offer even more students an opportunity to live on site.
These residences will be built in line with demand and funding availability.
There is a misconception that the University’s Manor Park site was taken out of the Green Belt in the 2003 Local Plan, having always been subject to Green Belt policy. However the University was actually granted outline planning permission to develop the whole of Manor Park and Stag Hill in 1965 following a public inquiry. The land was beyond the boundary of the Metropolitan Green Belt.
However the Green Belt notation was extended to this land by the 1984 Local Plan. At that time, the University and Guildford Borough Council did not see this as prejudicial to the future plans of the University because "institutions standing in extensive grounds" were seen as an appropriate use in the Green Belt. This meant that the University was able to continue its development of Manor Park.
In 1995, revisions to national planning guidance removed this concession from Green Belt policy. Guildford Borough Council and Surrey County Council therefore agreed that the Green Belt boundary should be realigned to exclude Manor Farm owing to exceptional circumstances:
In 2003, the Local Plan inspector agreed that there was a justification for realigning the Green Belt policy boundary at Manor Farm to accommodate the University's needs for the next 20 years.
We will not be building homes on the AONB but do expect that an access road will cross the AONB land (alongside and following the path of an existing road).
The Hog’s Back is a ridge that is part of the North Downs and lies between Farnham in the west and Guildford in the east. We believe that, with careful planning, the impact of the development on views from the Hogs Back can be minimised.
A thorough landscape and visual appraisal has been carried out and is being used to inform the development layout.
National planning policy required that brownfield sites be developed before the movement of any greenbelt boundaries. Guildford Borough Council has come to the conclusion that there is insufficient brownfield land to accommodate the Borough’s housing needs.
Our site has the potential to deliver an attractive neighbourhood for Guildford, retaining existing features of value such as woodlands and land in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and with infrastructure and highways improvements included in the plans.
Any development would be built to high environmental standards and would be sympathetic to the locality. The plans will respect the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and existing significant landscape and habitat features on the site, such as the woodland and hedges. Maintaining , and where possible increasing biodiversity is key to our aims and objectives.
Parts of the road network in western Guildford suffer congestion at peak times, including the A3 and the roads around the Surrey Research Park, the Royal Surrey Hospital and Manor Park.
Development of a new neighbourhood at Blackwell Farm offers the opportunity to help alleviate this existing problem in several ways.
- Provision of a new access off the Farnham Road, with links into the west of the Research Park and Manor Park. Allowing traffic to and from the A31 to access western Guildford via that route in a controlled way will help to alleviate the use of the A3 from the Hogs Back to the Tesco Junction.
- The proposed new housing is well-located next to a part of Guildford where there are thousands of existing jobs in the Research Park, the hospital, the University, the Tesco superstore and with other employers. The plans will also provide new employment at an extension to the Research Park, and there will be on site facilities such as schools and good access to public transport routes. A network of footpaths and cycle ways will integrate Blackwell Park with Guildford. Taken together, these factors will create a well-connected and walkable neighbourhood that reduces the need to travel by private car for most day to day needs. This will help to reduce the amount of traffic generated by the development.
The development itself will be expected to cover the costs of the necessary road improvements.
The University’s growth is not fuelling the vast majority of the need for housing and infrastructure in Guildford. It is England’s population growth and the failure of the UK to plan for it effectively that underpins the need for more housing.