Inquiry on 124-unit residential scheme on allocated site in setting of Guildford Cathedral to close

25 Mar 2024

Planning and Environment

On Friday 22 March, evidence concluded in a 9-day planning inquiry relating to a “special and sensitive site” in Guildford. The appellants, Vivid Housing Limited and the Cathedral Church of the Holy Spirit, appeal against Guildford Borough Council’s decision to, in accordance with officer recommendation, refuse planning permission for the demolition of existing Cathedral Close dwellings and the erection of 124 residential units and associated works, at land to the south and east of Guildford Cathedral.

The appeal site lies adjacent to Guildford Cathedral and falls within a site-specific allocation for approximately 100 homes, with key requirements including sensitivity to the setting of the Grade-II* listed building (Policy A15 of Guildford’s Local Plan: Strategy and Sites, 2019). The Cathedral is popularly recognisable as the location of a famous scene from the cult horror film, The Omen (1976).

The main issues on appeal relate to design, landscape and visual effects, heritage matters, cathedral funding, housing land supply and planning matters. The appeal scheme is not being promoted as enabling development.

Thomas Cosgrove KC and Jack Barber are instructed by Guildford Borough Council and have called evidence from Tanya Kirk of Hankinson Duckett Associates (landscape), Nigel Barker-Mills of Barker-Mills Conservation (heritage), Amanda Reynolds of AR Urbanism (urban design and townscape), and Kelly Jethwa and Laura Howard of Guildford Borough Council (planning and housing land supply).