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More than 30,000 Homes Needed To Meet Growing West Surrey Population

Published on: 20 Dec, 2014
Updated on: 20 Dec, 2014

With the population of West Surrey estimated to rise to 409,000 by 2031, more than 30,000 homes will need to be built, according to a latest report.

Pressure groups and others concerned with the threat to the green belt and development within existing urban areas will be carefully analysing property consultants GL Hearn’s latest strategic housing market assessment (SHMA) of West Surrey, a report commissioned by Guildford, Waverley and Woking borough councils.

A view, using a telephoto len,s from The Mount looking across the north Guildford area with Woking in the distance.

A view taken from The Mount, using a telephoto lens, looking across the north Guildford area with Woking in the distance.

Published December 14, the report estimates that between 1,522 and 2,053 properties need to be built each year in Guildford, Waverley and Woking.

The SHMA report can downloaded by clicking here on Guildford Borough Council’s website.

Or here, via Waverley Borough Council’s website.

In the report GL Hearn states: “It [the report] considers how many homes might be needed but does not take into account land supply, policy or other constraints to development. It then goes on to look at what mix of housing is needed, considering the need for different sizes of homes (both market and affordable) and the needs of specific groups in the population, including older people.”

It also notes: “The housing market area population is expected to grow by 14.3% between 2011-31 – a population increase of 51,200 persons. Guildford’s population is expected to grow by 17%, Waverley’s by 13% and Woking’s by 12% over this period.”

And adds: “The forecasts considered in the emerging Guildford Employment Land Needs Assessment estimates that employment in the borough will grow by 21,300 jobs between 2012-31. This takes account of the current level of jobs, economic structure and how different industries are expected to perform in the future based on forecasts from Experian.”

Included in its latest analyses, GL Hearn considers that the “key impacts of improving affordability would be to improve younger people’s ability to form a household, reducing the numbers of younger people forced to live with parents or in shared accommodation. The impact of this has been modelled by adjusting household formation rates of those aged 25-34, increasing levels of household formation for this age group over time such that it reaches the 2001 levels (in each authority) by 2031.”

The leader of Guildford Borough Council (GBC), Stephen Mansbridge, said: “The Draft West Surrey SHMA and our work with Woking and Waverley borough councils has helped to provide a clearer picture of the future need for homes. The joint document considers the feedback given on our own Guildford SHMA, which we updated earlier this year. The SHMA does not look at the constraints we face in meeting the housing need.

“There is further work to do as we prepare a new Local Plan for our borough, particularly around flooding and infrastructure. This, together with the new SHMA evidence and other applied constraints, will help us finalise a housing number. We will continue to challenge this figure to achieve the lowest sustainable point possible to pass the Inspectorate’s examination.”

The National Planning Practice Guidance sets out the methodology for producing a SHMA. GBC said: “The approach used by GL Hearn, our consultants, is thoroughly tested and will be again at our Local Plan examination.”

In response to the report, the chairman of the Guildford Greenbelt Group (GGG), Susan Parker, said: “The Guildford number for housing need is too high – it has been increased. When the required constraints are applied, we are likely to find ourselves with the same housing projections and proposals as put forward last summer.

“The council has claimed repeatedly that it will challenge the housing number, but it is campaign groups and the community, not the council, that has challenged and questioned its conclusions at every stage.  The council has merely put development consultants’ reports forward as a justification for the proposed plan.

“It is worth noting that in 2011 the Guildford Conservatives pledged to protect the green belt and countryside as a key element in their election manifesto, which led to their election. That pledge was not honoured. The draft Local Plan, put forward by our local council, broke that promise.

“We have now been told that the Local Plan will be reviewed by the council, and a revised Local Plan will be available after the next election. The housing numbers have increased and the council have not challenged the arguments made, although they have had this report in draft since September. The council chose to publish this report a few days before Christmas perhaps so no one would read it. Why should anyone trust them now?”

GGG adds that it will be studying the new SHMA in detail and will produce comments in due course.

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Responses to More than 30,000 Homes Needed To Meet Growing West Surrey Population

  1. Chris Hartley Reply

    December 21, 2014 at 8:36 pm

    In reply to GGG chairman’s Susan Parker’s quote in the above story, rather than just saying NO NO NO NO NO to this latest SHMA and blaming the politicians for everything, can you please give us some more details of the 60 hectares of available brownfield land around Walnut Tree Close, that you keep going on about?

  2. Susan Parker Reply

    December 23, 2014 at 12:52 pm

    I think Chris Hartley is missing my point.

    First we have to determine how many homes we need (that’s the SHMA (Strategic Housing Market Assessment) – and determine the objectively assessed housing need).

    Then we decide if we have room to fit them in, and if other constraints apply. Legal constraints include green belt and AONB (areas of outstanding natural beauty), which mean that we don’t need to meet objectively assessed housing need.

    That’s not my guidance, that’s government instruction per National Planning Policy Guidance and the National Planning Policy Framework, and also case law.

    So first, we have to get the housing number per the SHMA right. If the number is wrong, which we (GGG) think it is, then it needs to be corrected.

    Then, after we have a corrected housing number, we can decide where those homes should go, and if constraints mean we shouldn’t build all of them.

    • Peter Wilson Reply

      December 24, 2014 at 8:13 pm

      Does Susan Parker accept that there is a housing shortage, growing population, and lack of affordable housing in Surrey?

      If not, she is burying her head in the sand.

      If she does accept this but disagrees with the published housing need figures then perhaps she can explain what GGG believes the correct figure to be rather than simply saying that the published (twice) figures are wrong.

      Yes we must protect areas of natural beauty but nothing I have heard from GGG in terms of suitable brownfield sites has been in anyway routed in reality in terms of the number of houses these sites could provide. If you want to protect the green belt perhaps you should actually come up with some figures and realistic plans on how we meet a housing need, rather than simply denying there is a problem.

      We must tackle the housing crisis at a national and local level. I have heard nothing from GGG that makes me believe that this can be done with brownfield alone. There has to be a compromise.

    • chris Hartley Reply

      December 28, 2014 at 11:29 pm

      In reply to Susan Parker, I think you have missed my point.

      You have been quoted on several occasions in the Surrey Advertiser as identifying 50+ hectares of brownfield land around Walnut Tree Close in Guildford.

      I am just asking you for more details on this available brownfield land that could solve the brownfield question. Please answer my question.

      PS: I understand the SHMA/NPPF/AONB/NPPG etc

  3. Ray Briggs Reply

    December 23, 2014 at 7:24 pm

    The following two quotes are interesting: ‘The population is expected to grow’ and ’employment in the borough will grow’.

    The first does not happen in isolation. Policy decisions, including housing policy, will have a major impact on this.

    As for employment, it is a wiser person than me that can predict this economy over six months, let alone several years. I do not accept that Guildford has to grow, although it may be that the demographics of the region in the form of affordable housing, etc, may need to be rearranged.

    If so that needs to happen within the current housing stock. Voters beware. The current council has an agenda to gets its number through, and if we don’t want to see Guildford become part of some SE England hyper conurbation we had better make sure our vote goes to those demonstrably willing to stop this from happening.

    This is not the Tories, as they have already broken this promise. Lobby your councillor and make sure they will protect the green belt. If not get rid of them in May.

    Who stands to profit if this housing number goes through. Not me, for sure, and nor the vast majority of Guildford voters.

    • Peter Wilson Reply

      December 24, 2014 at 8:23 pm

      This should not be about who profits. Builders have always profitted from developing of course otherwise they would not do it.

      I agree that it needs to be about building affordable housing for the next generation while protecting areas of beauty in our county.

      My children could only afford to buy in Guildford (just) because of a lot of help. What will it be like for their children if we refuse to build more housing now without exploring all the options?

      We can’t afford to ignore the issue forever.

      • Adrian Atkinson Reply

        December 29, 2014 at 9:53 pm

        Builders will always profit and the needy will not.

        Let’s not walk into this with rose-tinted glasses. Let’s plan for need and let the builders provide it and not accept what the developers want wrapped up as need only for them to renege on their responsibilities.

      • Ray Briggs Reply

        January 5, 2015 at 11:00 am

        Profit (or the potential for it) will be one of the drivers in this debate.

        My worry is that it is the main driver. If so other considerations (eg quality of life in the borough) will not be given their proper weight. So it is important that we have a clear understanding of who will profit from the decisions taken.

        My daughter faces the same problems as Peter Wilson states in his reply. Building more houses will increase congestion, destroy the natural environment and is unlikely to have much impact on the affordability of property in the area because a holistic property solution for the entire country is not being formulated meaning that the SE will continue to be prime. So if you concrete over the lot what will have been solved?

  4. Bernard Parke Reply

    December 27, 2014 at 11:12 am

    There is indeed a lack of affordable houses.

    The problem here in central Guildford is that any house that was perhaps once affordable has now become unaffordable by speculators pricing out first-time family home buyers.

    Until this problem is address by central government, this situation will continue regardless of further building.

  5. Selina Mxwell Reply

    December 27, 2014 at 9:20 pm

    In reference to the top comment I agree with Chris Hartley – where are these 60 hectares in Walnut Tree close? The latest planning application 13/P/02216 which is for land rear of 77-83 Walnut Tree Close was refused due to potential flooding – this demonstrates this area is not suitable for the volume of housing Susan’s group state in fact forget about the flood plain and think of the existing infrastructure which cannot support it.

    Why on earth have people in the town not set up their own group to combat these anti greenbelt development groups – is it fair that we should live like sardines whilst they maintain their environments to one house per hectare? I wouldn’t mind but many of these areas have low landscape value; Gosden Hill and Blackwell Farm and don’t get me started on Gomshall

  6. Jim Allen Reply

    December 28, 2014 at 9:27 am

    Oh dear! Selina and Susan what are we to do with you both? Our low-cost housing is selling for over half a million, flood plain is irrelevant and the green belt is suddenly being based on ‘low landscape value’.

    Surely what we should be doing is rationalsing what we have so ‘we’ all take a few ‘improvements’ and stop taking the attitude “not next to me”.

    Gosden Hill a working farm, common land and ancient woodland with a part blanket tree preservation order on it since 1949 (possibly one of the first in Guildford borough).

    It is a strategic boundary line between the Guildford urban area and the countryside, formerly known as the metropolitan green belt, and is being actively farmed providing food for the country.

    I would point out just in case people don’t realise (or have forgotten) eggs still come from chickens, bacon from pigs, and bread is made from wheat. They do not start life in HGVs marked up with trade names of countrywide monopolies.

    So let’s make a new year’s resolution and stop the petty bickering and get our heads around the real problems.

    What do we want our borough to ‘look like’ (population, homes, shops, travel and factories) in 20 to 50 years time. And where is the water, electricity, and fuel coming from and where is our waste and sewage going to?

    While ‘proper green belt’ is important, so is our ‘city Life’ and we must not set out to destroy one simply to save the other.

    To all I say: ‘balance of approach’ and we can all get something close to what we wish for.

    • Ray Briggs Reply

      January 5, 2015 at 11:13 am

      While I agree with much of what has been said the sad fact is that reasonable argument often gets lost or massaged out of the equation. It comes back strong simple arguments that people can get behind.
      Why does Guildford need to grow?

      Until that is clearly argued no building on green belt should be allowed.

      To the arguments expressed elsewhere that state we have no brown field sites; Rubbish.

      The university has not been required to build car parking (multi-storey) or accommodation to meet the needs they have within the land they have.

      If we really want to build more let’s target the low density brown field areas and pack more housing in there.

      I am sure there are more examples.

  7. Lisa Wright Reply

    December 28, 2014 at 5:52 pm

    How on earth does the landscape value of the Walnut Tree Close area outweigh that of any open countryside, let alone the nationally designated area of outstanding natural beauty of Blackwell Farm?

    In terms of housing, isn’t it obvious that:

    It is actually cheaper to live in town as you don’t need to run a car.
    It is greener as you don’t need to run a car.
    It is healthier as you tend to walk /cycle more.
    It is safer as you have near neighbours and good security measures/police presence.
    It is easier and cheaper to get to work being near to public transport/train network.
    You never get stuck or contribute to traffic congestion or pollution.
    The tax payer doesn’t have to foot the huge cost of road infrastructure.
    Kids can walk to local schools and play locally with their friends.
    Kids/adults have close access to clubs, doctors, dentists, etc.

    Whilst retaining;
    Land for food production.
    Plants to absorb carbon and produce oxygen.
    Wildlife, birds, animals and plants.
    Earth to soak up all the rain to convert to drinking water.
    Nice to look at/walk through/enjoy.
    Retain historical features.
    Protect ancient woodland.
    Stop villages, towns and cities from merging into one.

    I could go on.

  8. Lisa Wright Reply

    December 28, 2014 at 5:57 pm

    I point out that the Guildford Greenbelt Group (GGG) as previously mentioned is not ‘Susan’s group’.

    It’s a whole host of people who have come together to make sure Guildford Borough Council looks at all of the Government’s policies on building new houses and abides by those laws when determining our new housing figures and site locations. It is run under a limited company with all the usual legal structures, committees, and so on.

    I’m sure I don’t speak out of turn, it’s to stop developers and local land owners, like the University of Surrey, from having easy, rich pickings of our beautiful countryside when, according to current law, brownfield sites should be developed first.

    • Chris Hartley Reply

      December 28, 2014 at 11:19 pm

      In reply to Lisa Wright and Susan Parker’s comments, I agree with you, brownfield first, but once again I will ask you or anyone from the GGG to tell us where all this available brownfield land is that you all keep going on about?

      The council is telling us that it doesn’t exist and GGG say it does, so please prove by publishing your own brownfield SHLAA or please don’t keep going on about it.

      I am not worried about builders/developers/profits etc, more worried about the planning arguments than the politics of envy.

  9. Neville Bryan Reply

    December 28, 2014 at 8:56 pm

    In reply to Peter Wilson’s comment, ask the University of Surrey to build their student accommodation and release the vast swathes of housing occupied by students preventing children like yours buying.

    I do not see that mentioned, but short to medium term while the rest is sorted out, that’s pretty well all you have to do. Any chance of that happening ?

    • Ngaire Wadman Reply

      January 7, 2015 at 4:53 pm

      In reply to Neville Bryan’s comment, I am told that houses let to students as multiple occupiers are exempted from paying council tax.

      There are a number of three-bedroom small houses in my road alone that are let to students, that could be family accommodation if the university honoured its commitment to house its students in purpose-built halls.

      Of course, that would mean landlords would lose out on those very profitable student lets, and would have to maintain the houses to a higher standard. How many times is this repeated across Guildford?

  10. Neville Bryan Reply

    January 8, 2015 at 5:01 pm

    In reply to Ngaire, I have a GBC report to council from 2008 showing 1,183 student houses not paying council tax. Unsurprisingly, nearly all of it inside the town boundary.

    Of course the University of Surrey has grown much more since then and has built no more accommodation. so it’s now worse. I am working to see if I can get more up-to-date figures.

    But GBC don’t care about the council tax. (see response from Cllr Manning last year). They only get a small amount of the council tax. Most of the revenue goes to Surrey County Council. They would be much more interested in getting the new homes bonus, and other revenue “benefits” from new housing estates.

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