An interview with Colin Baker plus a close look into the Red Arrows, who are flying into Dunsfold this month.
Guildford is undergoing change. Change is good; it’s essential for survival.
To date, Guildford has been hugely successful in retaining its heritage while remaining competitive.
The high street, paved with its iconic setts, is the pièce de résistance and it boasts a healthy mix of independent shops and boutiques as well as national brands.
What’s more, our theatres – and the soon to open G Live – attract some fantastic shows.
But we can’t rest on our laurels. Proximity to London and brilliant schools may guarantee its popularity with commuters, but Guildford won’t continue to be the great place it is to live or to attract the thousands of regular visitors and tourists if it doesn’t continue to deliver what residents and visitors need.
The fact we’re recognised as being one of the worst towns for congestion is just one problem that we need to address.
That’s why I was keen to attend the first workshop for the redevelopment of Guildford’s town centre.
It’s only when you start looking at Guildford properly that you start to see Guildford as visitors may see it.
Yes, we have a fabulous river but it’s grossly under-utilised and there are not many opportunities to sit alongside the riverbank in cafes or restaurants as you can in so many other towns and cities.
While the picturesque high street is clearly the prime selling area and shops rarely go un-let for long, there are other retail locations such as North Street that have untapped potential or which are set apart without a cohesive link between the two.
In short, there are many areas that are just simply unattractive and don’t work very well.
The project will set out an 18 year plan and will co-ordinate the redevelopment of around 30 key sites in the town, the infrastructure and environmental effects.
It is, says the head of planning services, Carol Humphrey, an ambitious timescale but the masterplan will co-ordinate and guide the future of the town.
Visitors to the workshop were asked for initial thoughts on the issues raised, but some attendees were still preoccupied with details such as wanting more planters in the streets.
These are not the issues that matter; we’ve got to start thinking big and we’ve got to stop worrying about the minutia that stops Guildford progressing as fast as some of the nearby towns with whom we have to compete.
Little has changed in the last fifteen years and it proves we can and do protect Guildford’s heritage but we must embrace change and encourage new flagship architecture that will not only complement the period buildings we love but will make a 21st century contribution.
Most importantly we must get rid of some of the eyesores that we’ve become too accustomed to and have stopped seeing them for what they really are.
There will be lots of other opportunities to play your part in Guildford’s future so watch out for the next workshop or visit www.guildford.gov.uk/towncentremasterplan