Fringe Box



Council Set to Adopt Development Management Policies in March

Published on: 2 Mar, 2023
Updated on: 5 Mar, 2023

By Martin Giles

The Planning Inspectorate has approved Development Management Policies put forward by Guildford Borough Council. The modifications to Local Plan are now expected to be adopted at a full council meeting on March 22.

The decision came after a seven-week consultation which ended in February.

The Planning Inspectorate found that the suggested “main modifications” in part 2 of the plan will meet all legal and national policy requirements.

But the policies, to the disappointment of some councillors and residents, do not include a height limit for buildings in Guildford.

During debates on the policies at GBC Cllrs Ramsey Nagaty (leader of the Guildford Greenbelt Group) and Chris Barrass (R4GV, Clandon & Horsley) both argued that a height policy was necessary but advice from planning officers, that such a policy was not advisable, was accepted.

But subsequently, the height of some of the buildings in the recent North Street proposal was one reason given by councillors who voted to deny it planning permission.

Cllr Joss Bigmore

Nonetheless, the lead councillor for Planning Policy, Joss Bigmore, who has argued that the “ship has sailed” on height restrictions, was positive. He said: “This is great news for the progression of our Development Management Policies Local Plan. It means that we can progress with the strong requirements on new development that we had hoped for.”

“The draft Development Management Policies Local Plan, and all the policies it contains, is so important. We get to set the standards that developers must meet. Our proposed policies cover topics such as heritage, biodiversity, climate change, design, infrastructure and transport.

“We are especially pleased that the Inspector has not reduced our class-leading requirement of at least 20 per cent Biodiversity Net Gain on development sites. This is higher than the national requirement of 10 per cent. In fact, most of our policies are not the subject of the Inspector’s proposed main modifications.”

Once adopted, the new Development Management Policies Local Plan will become the starting point for planning and development decisions, together with the Local Plan Strategy and Sites (LPSS). It will also replace the policies that remain from the existing Local Plan 2003.

Sallie Barker

Saillie Barker chair of the Guildford Conservatives said her party welcomed Part 2 of the Local Plan and the Development Management Policies it contains.

She said: “We have made clear that a priority for the next administration should be an effective regime to control building height to ensure it reflects the character of our historic town.

“Over the past four years, existing policies that could have been used to limit building height have unfortunately been ignored by the R4GV-Lib Dem coalition. The Development Management Policies are the natural vehicle to deal with this issue, therefore it is disappointing that a specific height policy for the town centre hasn’t been included.

Cllr Ramsey Nagaty- making a point at GBC.

Cllr Ramsey Nagety (GGG, Shalford) said: “I was one of the few who argued during the various GBC deliberations on the Development Management Policies that GBC needed a height policy.

“I was the only councillor to attend all days of the inspection of the DMPs. At the inspection I again pressed for a height standard.

“I felt that not having a height policy would create uncertainty and result in inappropriate development in the town.  It would enable developers to push up land prices such that any development would not be viable unless a certain number of storeys high. This would then enable developers to argue that reducing from say 15 to 11 storeys would not allow any “affordable” homes.

“I stressed that there could be a zonal system or one based on the height of the land But I found little support from councillors or officers.

“GBC does have the SPD [supplemetary planning document] which seeks to protect views in and out of the town centre, and could limit height of a proposal should a building impact on a view stipulated in the SPD. However SPDs are guidance only and do not have the weight of the DMP Local Plan part 2.

“I feel GBC have opened the stable door and the horse has bolted. We may not have heights such as Woking, but we will see taller buildings than most would like for Guildford, without the desired 40pct Affordable unless there is policy guidance to manage this.”

Howard Smith

Howard Smith, Vice Chair of Guildford Labour commented: “It is good that this has been approved by the inspector but as usual we have to ask why did it take the council so long to get these policies together? And more importantly, when are we going to see some progress on building the homes that Guildford needs?

“I think there is a clear argument for including a height limit, but this should be on a neighbourhood basis rather than simply a blanket limit.

“The purpose should be to prevent existing residences being put, quite literally, in the shadows; to preserve excellent views and vistas, for example along the river and to ensure new development is compatible with the prevailing character of the neighbourhood.”

Share This Post

Leave a Comment

Please see our comments policy. All comments are moderated and may take time to appear.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *