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The Guildford Waitrose exhibition, at the Guildhall, attracted more than 1,000 visitors by 1pm today (April 21) when it closed. Visitors were able to view the exhibition, talk directly to members of the project team including an architect and communications manager and leave written comments.
Views of those attending on the plans presented appeared mixed. Some were heard to voice their pleasure at the creation of a major new shopping store, especially a Waitrose, while others expressed concern about the choice of building style and materials and the possible impact on traffic on local roads. Plans do include a 170 space, free car park with a time limit of two hours per stay.
The exhibition is part of an ongoing consultation process local residents groups and The Guildford Society are among those who have received special presentations. Following the consultation a planning application is expected to be made to the borough council in May or June. The sale of the required land to Waitrose from the council is conditional on planning permission being granted.
In line with the planning brief put forward last year, in addition to a new, 21,000 sq ft supermarket, slightly smaller than that in Godalming, the scheme includes, provision of homes and a new, replacement community centre. The development will result in the loss of the Bellerby Theatre, Beverley Hall and the Live and Let Live pub, recently closed, as a result of the project.
One of the expected benefits is the creation of 150 jobs. Waitrose states ‘our policy is to recruit as locally as possible.’ It would ‘work closely with the local branch of jobcentre Plus…’. If plans are approved, Waitrose hopes to commence building work next year and complete it in early 2014.
Despite claims that this is the first Waitrose in Guildford, one older resident pointed out that in the 1960s there existed a Waitrose store in Woodbridge Road. It was next door to what was then the Studio 1 and 2 cinema. A pine furniture store occupies that building now.
What are your views? Were you at the exhibition? Was it informative? Would you welcome a new Waitrose in Guildford? What about the style and design and the traffic implications? Have your say by writing in to The Dragon at mgilesdragon@gmail .com or using the ‘Leave a Reply’ feature below. Email addresses are not published.