As part of the Local Plan process, Guildford Borough Council has identified a number of sites that could potentially provide new homes for the borough, including part of Blackwell Farm, which is owned by the University of Surrey.
The land provides an opportunity to help to meet a number of the town’s needs, providing a platform for sensible and sustainable growth.
Guildford needs more homes, schools and better infrastructure; this needs to be delivered quickly, sensitively and carefully. Planning ahead for the town’s future growth is even more critical in the face of intense demand and an infrastructure that is already under stress in the local area and region.
Up and down the country, population growth will see towns and cities like Guildford expand. Under the National Planning Policy Framework and the Planning Act, Guildford Borough Council has a statutory duty to produce a Local Plan to show how it will support its fair share of this growth.
The Council's first draft, published in May 2014, and its later drafts published in April 2016 and spring 2017 identified a number of sites that could accommodate new homes. All three drafts include parts of Blackwell Farm, owned by the University of Surrey, alongside other local sites including brownfield and carefully selected greenbelt sites.
Blackwell Farm is well located on the edge of The University Quarter, where approximately 9,000 people are employed by organisations such as the Royal Surrey County Hospital, 140 companies on the Research Park and the University of Surrey itself.
Any development would present an opportunity to help address the town’s existing infrastructure deficit and support access to the west of the town.
The University’s plans for Blackwell Park include a new relief road to the west of Surrey Research Park - joining it through the Farnham Road to the A31- new secondary and primary schools and community hub, an expansion of the Surrey Research Park, improved public transport via a sustainable movement corridor (encouraging modal shift), cycle paths and walkable routes, and 1,800 new homes of all sizes, types and tenures (1500 to be delivered within the local plan period). This would include affordable housing for eligible key workers from local institutions such as the Hospital and the University.
The plans also aim to protect and enhance a large percentage of the land’s natural assets, maintaining the designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), protecting and improving existing woodland and hedgerows and providing new sports pitches, parks and allotments as well as ponds and lakes.
As a steward of its land, the University has set three explicit objectives for the Blackwell Park development should it go ahead:
- A sustainable development that is framed by nature
- Place-making that supports people and communities
- A development that delivers powerful economic, infrastructure and social benefit to the University, the Community, Guildford and the region
All surplus generated by Blackwell Park would be reinvested into jobs, education and the public good in Guildford.
The University has been proud to call Guildford home for fifty years and intends to stay and contribute to the town for many generations to come.
Blackwell Park will become an important legacy for the University of Surrey, meaning the University will always have a vested long-term interest in its future.
Unlike some commercial property developers who might take profit and move on, the University, its Sports Park and its Research Park would become long-standing neighbours to any new community at Blackwell Park.
A great deal of thought and consideration has gone into how Blackwell Park can bring clean growth to Guildford – helping those who work in the locale to live in the locale and supporting local residents to find new jobs in the town.
The University is keen to create an environment which embeds a ‘Proud to live here, proud to work here’ ethos.
Guildford Borough Council first published its Draft Local Plan in the spring of 2014. A 12-week public consultation ensued in May of that year and again in June-July 2016, eventually leading the Borough Council to postpone a decision on Guildford’s Local Plan until spring 2016 and again more recently to 2017.
After submission to the Planning Inspectorate, the public hearing sessions on the Guildford borough Submission Local Plan: strategy and sites (2017) concluded in July 2018. At the close of the hearing sessions, the Planning Inspector concluded that the plan could be found sound subject to main modifications being made (which do not include changes to the proposed Blackwell Park Development). The Council is now holding a six-week public consultation on the proposed main modifications to the plan between 12 noon on 11 September 2018 and 12 noon on 23 October 2018.
As the planning process progresses, it is the University’s intention to post any additional information about its proposals on this site, as and when it becomes publically available.