A new community should be built around Guildford Cathedral to improve its links with the town, the Dean has said.
The Very Reverend Victor Stock said the cathedral, which sits at the top of Stag Hill, would benefit from new housing.
He said: "We've gone into enormous detail and cost looking at whether we could build houses on the hill.
"There is a kind of disjunction between the town and the cathedral."
He added: "One of the things I thought I'd like to do when I arrived here nine years ago was build a new community."
Mr Stock said his vision included new homes, shops, better access roads and a medical centre.
"Instead of a vandalised windswept outpost it would become an important part of Guildford," he said.
Mr Stock said while Surrey County Council and English Heritage had been supportive of the idea, it had been "hard work getting borough councillors interested".
"I am going to retire soon and I have come to the end of the energy required," he said.
"I hope another Dean will be able to persuade the borough council into seeing what a wonderful opportunity for a new Guildford this would be."
Guildford Cathedral starts a year of celebrations marking its 50th anniversary with a service on Sunday.