Fringe Box



Council To Look Again At Sites For Development in Draft Plan Reassessment

Published on: 24 Nov, 2014
Updated on: 24 Nov, 2014

Guildford Borough Council is to undertake a reassessment of its Draft Local Plan, including a re-evaluation of all sites proposed for development.

Local Plan Consultation logoThe council has announced that the re-assessment follows, firstly, the widespread opposition to building on the green belt in the light of responses it received as part of the draft’s consultation process, and secondly, based on recent clarification to the government’s planning practice guidance.

The leader of the council, Cllr Stephen Mansbridge, said: “I can state categorically that no site will come forward for development within the green belt, any area of outstanding natural beauty or area of flood risk, unless it has been fully reassessed against the tests set out in the planning practice guidance as amended in October this year.”

The council states that with about 15,000 of the 20,000 Draft Local Plan consultation responses now processed, the views of the many local people who took the time to comment are very clear.

It adds that since the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) was first published by the government in 2012, advice from barristers and all other planning policy advisors was that the council had no option but to look at revising green belt boundaries to comply with the obligations of both national policy and guidance.

It’s latest statement notes: “This was also the position faced when we successfully challenged the South East Plan’s proposal to allocate green belt land for 2,000 houses north-east of Guildford. However, the government has now placed greater emphasis on sensitive constrained green belt locations, such as Guildford, where the objectively assessed housing need can now be weighed against a set of compelling constraints.

“Based on the high number of consultation responses and the clear guidance from the Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, the current Draft Local Plan will be reassessed. All proposed development sites will now be re-evaluated against the constraints highlighted in the revised Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) planning practice guidance. We will then publish a new version of the Draft Local Plan for consultation next year.”

Items within the reassessment that will be covered:

  • The housing number set out in the revised Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) will be reassessed against the local constraints and the test of harm.
  • Every potential development site will now be re-assessed against the new national planning practice guidance test “to take account of constraints such as green belt, which indicate that development should be restricted and which may restrain the ability of an authority to meet its need.”

Cllr Mansbridge added: “I would like to add that this has been a difficult time for all concerned and inevitably the challenges in framing a policy compliant Draft Local Plan have caused immense worry and concern to many local people.

“However, we now have an alternative route map to review the extent to which we can meet the housing need identified in the SHMA. We are also reviewing the SHLAA as part of revising the Draft Local Plan and this should allay those fears. We must continue the current process towards having a sound Local Plan in 2016.”

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Responses to Council To Look Again At Sites For Development in Draft Plan Reassessment

  1. Lisa Wright Reply

    November 24, 2014 at 10:25 pm

    Surely, based on this statement, GBC can now state whether Blackwell Farm, Wisley or Gosden Hill are still part of this Local Plan.

    If they can’t or are unwilling to decide if the three major green belt sites are removed from the Draft Local Plan at this point, then I don’t see that anything has changed and don’t hold out much hope for any of the other PDA’s.

  2. Jim Allen Reply

    November 25, 2014 at 9:26 am

    I can only hope that ‘re-looking’ at the problem does not mean that as with other in government circle ‘relooks’ – they do not come back with the same answer….

    • Stuart Barnes Reply

      December 2, 2014 at 3:41 pm

      I would not place any bets on a different or more sensible answer!

  3. Tony Edwards Reply

    November 25, 2014 at 10:13 am

    This announcement amounts to a short-term amnesty for the green belt sites on Guildford Borough Council’s ‘hit list’ – until after the May election.

    The woolly words used indicate that these people are still not listening to the voice of Guildford residents.

    Leading Counsel Peter Village QC has already presented legal opinion on the proposed obliteration of green belt land at ‘Three Farms Meadows’, the former Wisley airfield, pointing out that there is insufficient land to build a sustainable ‘new town’ [among many other important issues] but the plan remains an integral feature of this ludicrous draft Local Plan – along with many other sites which should be protected.

    If Cllr Mansbridge wants us to take his ‘alternative route map’ announcement seriously, he should confirm that he no longer plans to destroy the green belt in Guildford with his ill conceived proposals. But I won’t hold my breath and suspect it’ll be back to square one after May… if he is still at the helm.

    We need positive action and resolve, not woolly words.

  4. Jules Cranwell Reply

    November 26, 2014 at 9:20 am

    Guildford Borough Council (GBC) should also take this opportunity to state that they will withdraw their proposal to remove 16 villages from the green belt, and to increase the settlement boundaries of the villages.

    As to applying constraints, to such considerations as green belt, this is somewhat disingenuous, as the NPPF always provided for such constraints to be applied. GBC signally failed to take heed of these provisions for the daft local plan, despite this being pointed out on many occasions by action groups, such as GGG.

  5. David Smith Reply

    November 26, 2014 at 3:19 pm

    I think Tony Edwards’ comment should be re-drafted, as listening to the voice of some Guildford residents. You certainly don’t speak for me nor do I agree with your views.

    Development of the green belt (in my view) is acceptable in certain situations, and well planned good development can bring about a positive contribution.

    Why should people living in the town be squeezed to the maximum while those living in the green belt have no development?

    Whoever you vote for next year may help delay development, but it is quite clear we will soon be left with no alternative. Development of these sites will be inevitable.

  6. Ngaire Wadman Reply

    December 5, 2014 at 11:09 pm

    My particular concern is the seeming conflict between the actual NEED for modest, affordable housing on brownfield sites within the town limits, and developers’ perceived wish to build large expensive houses on greenfield sites – which of course would be very much more profitable for them.

    Need versus profit, and a nasty whiff of Eau de Brown Envelope… when there are councillors involved in the planning process who have property development interests, and even face charges of fraud and forgery, it’s very difficult to believe anything one is told.

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