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Borough Council Issues ‘Significantly Changed’ Local Plan

Published on: 6 Apr, 2016
Updated on: 6 Apr, 2016

Revised Local Plan Jun 2016Guildford Borough Council (GBC) has published its revised Local Plan that is intended to shape the future development of the borough over the next two decades.

In a statement a GBC spokesperson said that the revised plan contains: “…significant changes that reflect over 20,000 comments and questions received from local residents during the public consultation held in the Summer of 2014.”

Cllr Paul Spooner

Cllr Paul Spooner.

Cllr Paul Spooner, GBC leader, said: “The Local Plan is important for everyone who lives, works or visits the towns, villages and countryside in Guildford borough. We’re lucky to be in one of the most beautiful and prosperous parts of the United Kingdom.

“We’re working hard to protect and enhance the area while meeting our future obligations for new homes, retaining and creating jobs, addressing our transport and infrastructure needs, educating future generations and protecting our culture and heritage.”

One major issue the council is facing is the use of green belt land for future developments. Opposition to its use led to the creation of the single issue Guildford Greenbelt Group which won 13 per cent of the vote and three seats at the last local election last May (2015).

Some Conservative and Lib Dem candidates also fought the council election with promises to protect the green belt.

Tory Green Belt promise 1Tory Green Belt promise 2

Conservative newsletter issued in run up to last year’s local elections.

The council statement continued: “With 89 per cent of Guildford borough within the green belt, major consideration has been given to protecting this land. Development is being directed at making better use of land that has already been built on under a ‘brownfield first’ preference.

“In total, across the borough, just 1.6 per cent of greenfield land will be taken from the green belt and allocated for development. In addition, great emphasis will be placed on protecting the Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).”

Cllr Spooner continued: “We received a tremendous response during the public consultation and every comment has been considered… We listened to opinions and have changed the plan considerably to take account of feedback.

“Many people asked for more evidence to support our proposals so we have sought the views of leading experts and commissioned detailed reports. This means the Local Plan is based on the best advice and forecasts available.”

The council’s Local Plan, which covers the borough’s needs until 2033, seeks to meet the UK Government’s National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) that calls for sustainable growth.

Describing one of the main objectives behind the plan the GBC statement says: “The UK Government has called for more new homes to be built so all residents can have a welcoming roof over their heads. Of the new homes proposed for Guildford borough, some 40 per cent will be affordable for low paid workers such as nurses, teachers, police officers, firefighters and others.

“This means more workers can live nearer to their work, helping with recruitment, increasing quality of service and lessening traffic congestion caused by long-distance travel, especially from outside the borough.”

A “consultation statement” will be issued in May 2016 highlighting the changes made to the Local Plan as a result of the 2014 public consultation.

Major amendments include a reduction in the total number of development sites, three new secondary school locations, greater consideration of flood zones, identification of traffic hotspots, locations for improvements where there is heavy congestion, and planned improvements to the A3.

Significantly, Guildford Borough Council is working with many partners to deliver its proposals. For example, Highways England (previously the Highways Agency) will improve the A3 through Guildford, especially the London-bound stretch from the Hog’s Back. Surrey County Council will enhance many other A and B roads in the borough and work to meet the education needs of local children.

Network Rail has significant plans in hand which will allow many more trains each day plus enhancements to Guildford station, the busiest in Surrey. The council is also working with Network Rail and other stakeholders to provide two new stations.

Delivering a joined-up transport strategy is a central part of Guildford Borough Council’s Local Plan, including train, buses, cars, cycling and walking.

Cllr Spooner added: “We need to meet the future needs of Guildford Borough in planned, realistic and sustainable ways. However, we must also protect everything that makes the borough a great place. I strongly urge everyone who has an interest in this borough to look at the Plan in full and see how we wish to improve this area over the next 15 years.”

Cllr Susan Parker

Cllr Susan Parker.

The leader of the Guildford Greenbelt Group, Cllr Susan Parker (GGG, Send), said: “This is almost unchanged from the ‘trajectory’. The housing number is unsubstantiated and unscrutinised.  Crude calculation of ‘objective need’ is unconstrained.

“Available urban brownfield land is earmarked for shops and offices, not homes, forcing c.70 per cent of new housing onto fields. Election promises to protect the green belt, have been broken, despite the spin.

“The green belt that is most protected is the new area around Tongham. You can fool some of the people all of the time…”

Lib Dem and Labour councillors declined to comment.

The revised Local Plan will be considered at a special meeting of the Borough, Economy and Infrastructure Executive Advisory Board on April 13, 2016. The Executive and Full Council will consider the Local Plan in May 2016.

Further consultation is planned for June, including three public events.

To view the revised plan please click here and scroll down to see links to documents.





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Responses to Borough Council Issues ‘Significantly Changed’ Local Plan

  1. Ben Paton Reply

    April 6, 2016 at 5:43 pm

    The same old trajectory continuing on from former Cllrs Mansbridge and Juneja with just a new spin from the PR agents.

    We’ve come to expect this from the Conservatives. The Prime Minister’s only real world (non political) job was as Investor Relations at Carlton Communications plc, a job which involves putting the best face on things.

    The Chancellor’s recent contribution to the green belt debate was a scurrilous comment that homeowners were trying to prevent others getting on the housing ladder. This from a party that has not built council houses for a generation.

  2. Bernard Parke Reply

    April 7, 2016 at 9:07 am

    It is not home owners trying to prevent others getting on the housing ladder, but according to the national press to-day the situation is not helped by buy-to-let landlords outbidding first time buyers on the property ladder and driving up rents.

    We never had this problem when we had the rent acts which not only kept down rents but also house prices making them truly affordable.

  3. Pete Brayne Reply

    April 7, 2016 at 9:11 am

    I am in awe of the size and complexity of the Local Plan. It sounds so simple, “Local Plan”, but the number of policies that need to be considered and aligned is horrendous. The need to adhere to national policies and rules but also consult and respond to local feeling is an impossible task. I really don’t envy the politicians and their officers. Especially as they work under the gaze of a critical and sceptical public – made up of people like me.

    Can I therefore encourage the council to complete the section entitled “Our Vision and ambition”. It will help us understand what they are hoping to achieve on our behalf, and therefore the rationale of your proposals. Otherwise we focus and argue about the “means” without understanding the “ends”.

  4. Pete Brayne Reply

    April 7, 2016 at 9:25 am

    Actually, to be fair, having see the comment, “To be completed” under the sections entitled, “3. Our Vision and Ambition”, I leapt onto The Dragon to make my earlier comment.

    Scrolling down I see GBC’s Ambitions have been listed. But I think there’s a big difference between ambition and vision and I would like to see an expression of the vision that is driving the ambitions.

  5. A Atkinson Reply

    April 8, 2016 at 3:02 pm

    An excellent point from Pete Brayne and one that has been pointed out before on this site.

    We don’t have a vision and we don’t really understand the true drivers of the problems we face so we cannot come up with the right solution in the plan.

    See also:

  6. A Atkinson Reply

    April 8, 2016 at 3:11 pm

    The GBC ambitions are clear with regards to the environment:

    To protect and enhance our heritage assets and improve the quality of our built and natural environment.

    To protect those areas designated as Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area, Special Areas of Conservation, Sites of Special Scientific Interest and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty for their biodiversity and landscape characteristics.

    To ensure that new development is designed and located to minimise its impact on the environment and that it mitigates, and is adapted for, climate change.

    Yet again, no mention of protecting the green belt.

  7. Stuart Barnes Reply

    April 9, 2016 at 8:58 am

    The only way to stop the continual encroaching on to what is left of our green and pleasant land for houses which should not be needed is to put a complete stop on unwanted and uninvited immigration.

    To do that we must all turn out on June 23rd to vote OUT of the hated EU. We cannot rely on the politicians from any party but I must agree that the Conservative party under the untrustworthy Mr Cameron has a lot to answer for.

  8. Harry Eve Reply

    April 11, 2016 at 8:39 am

    The council want a concrete jungle,
    Guildford’s future, they will bungle.
    So many angered and they all know,
    This ill-thought plan will have to go.

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