A temporary ‘pop-up village’ inspired by those seen in Brixton, Camden, and Shoreditch will be set up in Guildford’s North Street in October, while negotiations to transform the area with new housing and shops continues.

Councillors are set to discuss plans on Tuesday to open what will be known as ‘Pop Up Guildford’ on unused land at the former cinema site near Woodbridge Road for a period of two years.

The aim is to make the most of the site until the full redevelopment of North Street begins, which has been plagued by delays costing thousands of pounds.

“We’re planning a pop-up village which will improve the area in the run-up to the development of North Street,” a borough council spokesman said.

“‘Pop Up Guildford’ will offer food, drink, jewellery, gifts and art, together with street acts and performances. It will benefit the whole town centre – pop-up villages in other towns and cities have been successful in supporting new businesses and shops and attracting more visitors.

“As part of the project we’re consulting with North Street Market, Guildford Farmers’ Market, Experience Guildford and other local shops and businesses on our plans. We aim to open ‘Pop Up Guildford’ in October for a minimum of two years.”

Plans to redevelop North Street have hit several delays after a contract with developerLand Securities was terminated when it failed to reach a financial agreement with the borough council last July.

A report prepared for the council’s executive committee reveals that landowner M&G Real Estate is prepared to give the council a lease for the pop up project at no cost.

Parts of the site are currently used for temporary car parks operated by the council but the report states the ‘pop-up village’ will be of more benefit to the town.

“The idea is for an easy in and easy out arrangement for small businesses in Surrey to access a cluster of units that will provide a vibrant centre for activity to revitalise the overall attractiveness of the town and provide starter opportunities for the artisans and businesses concerned,” the report states.

Councillor Caroline Reeves, who represents the Friary & St Nicolas ward which covers North Street, said: “I am in complete support of the project and I have been involved with it from quite early on.

“I fully support it and hope it will show people we are getting on with doing things.

“It will bring a different dynamic to the town centre, something that will hopefully appeal to younger people.

“It will make a change from the more expensive chains in the High Street.”

The project is to be based on similar pop-up villages in Shoreditch, Brixton, Camden and Croydon which the council says have a proven effect in increasing footfall and retails spends.

It is believed it will be more than two years before the full development of North Street will take place, with the pop-up village staying in place until then.

“The advantage for Guildford and its retailers is that the combined effect of the range of food, beverages, jewellery, gifts and works of art on offer, together with street acts and performances, is to attract many more new casual visitors including those outside the borough to the town,” the report states.

Councillor Paul Spooner, leader of the council, admitted last year that talks were ongoing with a major retailer, thought to be John Lewis, to move into the main North Street development.

A council spokesman said: “Work is ongoing – we are in regular talks with the developer, M&G, who have put forward some interesting proposals. They have been in discussions with a number of retailers about their potential interest in Guildford.

“We have also asked Surrey County Council to look at transport solutions for the town centre, including the re-routing of buses. This work is linked to North Street and the town centre masterplan. We plan to update the executive in the autumn outlining progress to date on the North Street discussions.”

Source – Get Surrey