Guildford Cathedral 2020: Frequently Asked Questions

What is Guildford Cathedral 2020?

Guildford Cathedral 2020 is an ambitious seven-year strategy for fundraising, investment and development designed to secure the long term future of Guildford Cathedral for the people of Guildford.

Why is such a plan needed?

Guildford Cathedral costs £1.17m to operate per annum and is currently running at a deficit of around £100,000 per year. Despite being a recognised landmark, it is isolated from the town centre and provides limited amenity to the wider population of Guildford and its visitors.

Guildford Cathedral 2020 will create significantly enhanced public open space on Stag Hill, greater connectivity with the town centre and it will also involve a major programme of urgent repairs to the fabric of the Cathedral itself.  These developments will complete the original vision for the Cathedral as a place of worship at the heart of the community and will provide Guildford with a Cathedral Quarter to be proud of.

How will the plan be achieved?

The Cathedral has planned a major public fundraising campaign but this will only go part of the way to achieving what is needed.  Therefore, the Cathedral also intends to sell part of Stag Hill for the development of social and private housing. The development will also including a new Cathedral Close to accommodate staff and clergy - this will replace the existing sub-standard houses.

Who took the decision to do this?

This decision has been taken by the Cathedral Chapter – the Cathedral’s governing body.  It reflects many years of discussion and consultation both internally and externally.

What are the fundraising plans?

We hope that our visitors, the wider community and private benefactors will support our appeal for around £2.2m, just as they did “buying a brick” to construct the cathedral.  In addition, an initial application for £4.8m has been made to the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) and further details of this will be announced shortly.

What consultation has taken place regarding the proposed residential development? 

In 2005 the Cathedral undertook an extensive and very visible consultation exercise regarding initial options that might inform a future transitional strategy for the estate; this included a preliminary master plan for Stag Hill that suggested the concept of a new inclusive community focused around the cathedral. The current proposal to sell part of Stag Hill has been discussed with the Cathedrals Fabric Commission for England (CFCE) and the Church Commissioners although final approval would only be given after detailed consideration of any specific proposals.  The Cathedral is committed to a full programme of public consultation and open engagement as part of the planning process.

Who is the developer? 

The Cathedral will select a preferred developer to work with on designing and implementing a high quality residential scheme that is acceptable to all stakeholders.  Discussions have already taken place with a number of potential parties although a contract has not yet been signed. We hope to be able to announce our chosen developer shortly.

The Cathedral is a Listed building, does that mean you can’t do anything to the surrounding grounds and neighbouring buildings?

Approval to build within the curtilage of a Listed Building will require the support of English Heritage, the public body responsible for the conservation of Listed Buildings, and the CFCE.

Which part of the site will be developed?

We recently applied for planning permission for investigative site works on Stag Hill to help us understand the potential best uses of this land in the future.   In considering any development we are constrained by certain key views which we are keen to preserve.  The final developable site will emerge as the public consultation process proceeds.

What will the development look like? 

Chapter is seeking to create a community around the Cathedral and, as a second phase, new facilities to serve the public and visitors at the west end of the Cathedral. The design of the development will emerge from consultation and engagement with our many stakeholders including neighbours, councillors, staff and users of the Cathedral.

When will a planning application be submitted?

A planning application will only be submitted after thorough public consultation has taken place and a master plan has emerged that meets our requirements.  Also, the Cathedral needs to obtain the final approval of CFCE and a number of other bodies.  Any planning application is likely to be at least 6 months away.

How many houses/units are planned for the site & where exactly will they be? 

The Cathedral’s vision is to create a living community and enhance the site for the benefit of all.   The extent of new housing is not yet clear and public engagement and technical assessment work will lead to a clarification on this important issue. The areas most suitable for residential development are likely to be to the south and east of the cathedral.

26 September 2013