Our University Challenge

The landowner, the University of Surrey, has already failed to meet the conditions imposed on it for its expansion into Manor Farm (outlined in the Local Plan 2003), and it seems unlikely that it will fulfil future promises

  • Ten years ago, in return for permission to build on Green Belt land at Manor Farm, the University agreed that it would make a park out of the undeveloped Manor Farm land now being incorporated in H1 land for development. The remaining part of H1 and all of H2 were specifically agreed by the University to remain as Green Belt /AONB/AGLV, with increased access to the public for leisure activities and enjoyment of the countryside as a trade off for building on the farm. This park has not been delivered, and if the land is developed, it will never be delivered.

  • The University indicated that it would explore how parts of Blackwell Farm could be further opened up to the community (including the possibility of a country park). Rather than opening up Blackwell Farm to the community, the University has reduced access – erecting signs which prohibit walkers and cyclists from passing through the area.

  • It was a requirement  that University expansion should not exacerbate traffic congestion in the western corridor approaches to Guildford and that it should confine any increase in traffic generation from the Manor Farm site to no more than 5% of the base University and Research Park traffic movement. [We need to ask Surrey Highways for the traffic statistics to show whether this has been achieved, but judging from the 4,000-5,000 or so cars, which occupy the  car parks during week days, it seems unlikely.]

  • The University indicated that it would explore ways of alleviating the Beechcroft Drive access problems. This does not appear to have been  looked into.

  • The University indicated that it would create a high-quality environment with landscaping, planting and amenity space. Although Manor Park has been landscaped, vast areas have been allocated to car parking. This is a significant waste of former green-belt land as these car parks could have been built as multi-storey structures, without having significant impact on the surrounding landscape (which features several multi-storey buildings). If multi-storey (or underground) car parking is now introduced, this would allow industrial/retail units to occupy the existing car-parking space, thereby freeing up land currently occupied by industrial/retail units in the centre of Guildford (eg Walnut Tree Close). The University could even move BBC Radio and AQA businesses, which currently occupy sites at Stag Hill, to Manor Park, freeing up space for the student accommodation.

  • The 2003 Local Plan stated, ‘Development for general housing or employment use not required for the purposes of the University set out above will not be permitted on the defined land.

  • We’ve heard arguments leveled by Councillors (including Monika Juneja) that the University needs to expand onto Blackwell Farm to provide the Vet School and living accommodation for staff.  However, the plans for the new vet school are already earmarked for the site on Manor Farm already taken out of Green Belt and there is sufficient space on University land to accommodate any staff.  The University has stated its intention to develop Manor farm as a site for general housing so whilst it will make a great deal of money from acting as a developer – any development of the area will not serve to advance education (the supposed aim of the University!).

See our Call for Action and write to your Councillor.

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