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Letter: The University Could Do More To Help With Guildford’s Housing Problem

Town & GownFrom Lisa Wright

Guildford is suffering from its own success and, as Mr Bridger states in his article Guildford Should Cherish Its Students, it is not just the University of Surrey that causes these issues.

To maintain an educated workforce, one which will bring economic success, we must build homes for our youngsters. Unfortunately, there are very few starter flats and apartments in central Guildford which is why young professionals are moving to Woking.

I know Mr Bridger is a vocal supporter of building 3,250 houses on Blackwell Farm, a beautiful swathe of English Countryside, the southerly line of the historical Ice Age, a place full of flora and fauna and much of it protected as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and other designations. It is also enjoyed by everyone travelling up the A31.

But Mr Bridger fails to recognise that the university has chosen to expand its portfolio to include veterinary medicine and is also pushing for medical school at the expense of its current students, staff and local residents. Building on Blackwell Farm doesn’t directly help any of those people, it will however give a huge income for the University.

We are always being told how much money students contribute to the UK economy but those numbers include the income from the private companies who occupy their Research Park units and just recently, they made some teaching staff redundant, so how does that work out?

How can the university help? They could build sufficient housing, of good quality, for their 10,000 students on Manor Park as promised. They could also have a sensible ceiling applied to the amount of students they can recruit as I believe they forecast 17,000 full time students in the coming decade which I don’t think the rest of Guildford can accommodate.

They could also use Blackwell Farm as a public park. It could be filled with an animal area like Brocketts Farm, cycle paths, playgrounds, cafés, picnic areas, a boating lake, wildlife conservation areas, nature trails, visitor centres. I could continue.

It would be a wonderful place for their students to relax. It could provide some new jobs. It would benefit the veterinary school students and ultimately, create the one of the largest, green, public facilities for residents and visitors alike.

Meanwhile, GBC can get a move on and build some badly needed flats near the town centre and spend some more money on social housing. Of course this won’t reduce house prices, they will always remain high due our demographics. For reference, a small, one bedroom flat in Guildford is £800 pcm plus bills and services.

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