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Councillors Comment on the New Draft Local Plan

Published on: 11 Apr, 2017
Updated on: 12 Apr, 2017

Publication of the new draft Local Plan for Guildford is an important event. The plan will physically shape Guildford’s future. Yesterday the council leader Paul Spooner had his say on the new plan. Today we invited some other councillor’s and representatives to give their reactions…

Cllr Caroline Reeves

Caroline Reeves, Liberal Democrat borough councillor for Friary & St Nicolas: “The latest Local Plan will probably please very few people in the borough, with the housing target staying high, green belt land grabbed, and even more housing in our already-congested town. It would seem that the Conservatives here have ignored issues in Guildford such as designated green belt, AONB and an already dense level of development, while pushing for additional homes above all.

“Liberal Democrats agree that we need some more homes to meet the needs of our community, but that must be balanced against protecting our environment in both town and countryside.

“We are all victims of this flawed Conservative policy, and now our Conservative administration has stuck its head in the sand and is enforcing a system that is skewed in favour of developers and away from improvements to the infrastructure.

“Here in Guildford some large applications have already  been refused on strong planning grounds, such as the planning application for some 2,000 homes on the former Wisley Airfield, but the council’s Conservative administration has chosen to keep the new town in the latest Local Plan.

“Liberal Democrat councillors will all make up their own minds how to vote on whether to take this latest Local Plan to consultation. Lib Dem councillors are always free to put their communities first, without any pressure to follow a party line.

“We all want to protect our lovely town and beautiful countryside from desecration. It will be a hard choice between accepting the urgent need for a Local Plan to protect our borough from speculative development (and to stop the government forcing one upon us) or fighting on to get a better deal for our local communities.”

Cllr Susan Parker

Susan Parker, Guildford Greenbelt Group borough councillor for Send: “This plan – only seen today [April 10] – is largely the same as the previous version, which is why the council is only asking for comments on the changed sections.  It is disappointing (given considerable concern within the borough) that the Executive did not seek more fundamental revision. As ever, too little, too late.

“Marginally higher utilisation of brownfield sites is suggested – desirable, although there should be more housing and less retail within the town, on existing brownfield land. A concern is that protection for the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is now weaker.

“Reduction in proposed housing numbers is a move in the right direction, although the number is still too high. At a projected 12,426 homes, Guildford’s housing stock will increase by more than 20% while the proposed increase in population is 18% (from 137,183 to 162,188) – so the rate of building will be considerably faster than population growth in the area. In any case, our infrastructure – road, rail, sewage, power – will not cope.

“Even at this level several strategic sites could now be taken out of the plan. Normandy/ Flexford is being removed, but almost all other previous sites are still earmarked.   The assumption now made is that sites will be developed more slowly so building will extend beyond the plan period as sites will not be fully developed by 2034. This is ridiculous. We should value our precious countryside more highly.”

Cllr Bob McShee

Bob McShee, Conservative borough councillor for Worplesdon: “As Worplesdon’s borough councillor, I am pleased to see that many of the developments on the green belt in Worplesdon have been excluded from the revised Local Plan.

“However, Blackwell Farm is still included, being one of the strategic sites, and this development remains as a ‘Blot on the Landscape’ with regard to its effect on Worplesdon and other adjoining communities.

“The siting of the proposed Guildford West Station is to be applauded as this will, hopefully, take cars off the roads on the western approaches to Guildford.

“I hope that the threat of a SANG in Worplesdon has finally gone away and there will be no further planning applications

“On the eastern site of Worplesdon, Slyfield Area Regeneration Project (SARP) remains a concern with the impact of cars on the local roads.”

Nick Norton, Normandy Action Group

Nick Norton, a GGG candidate in the forthcoming SCC election but speaking as a member of the Normandy Action Group: “The Normandy Action Group (NAG) is pleased that the council has responded to residents’ concerns that the evidence brought forward to justify 1,100 homes on Site A46 was incorrect, removing the site from the Local Plan. Site A47 (an SNCI) has gone too.

“NAG is disappointed that the council fails to recognise Normandy’s & Flexford’s contribution to the ‘openness’ of the green belt and propose ‘insetting’ the two settlements rather than leaving them ‘washed over’; it is one of the key areas of open green space north of the Hog’s Back in the west of the borough preventing Guildford and Aldershot merging.”

The Guildford Labour Party councillors were also invited to comment.

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test 5 Responses to Councillors Comment on the New Draft Local Plan

  1. Paul Bishop Reply

    April 11, 2017 at 4:16 pm

    The same old faces making the same old complaints. The first consultation went live in July 2014, nearly three years ago. Why is it that in this three year period not one of the groups who so strongly object to the plan, it’s evidence base and it’s findings, have come up with their own alternative plan?

    We’ve had three years of moaning, we could have had three years of constructive alternatives. I really wonder what most of the councillors in our borough get up to when they aren’t issuing the same old soundbites to the The Guildford Dragon and Surrey Advertiser.

    The only people they can blame is themselves, there’s been ample time to propose a credible alternative plan.

    • Jim Allen Reply

      April 13, 2017 at 8:23 am

      We have proposed alternatives within the 32,000 submitted comments. In the main they have been ignored.

      • Paul Bishop Reply

        April 18, 2017 at 4:41 pm

        There’s never been a joined up alternative proposal. There have been been plenty of individual groups coming up with their own ideal scenarios, which generally means no development in their area and extra development somewhere else.

        This isn’t useful or credible. 32,000 comments, of which many contradict each other, is no use either.

        The fact that none of the many groups could get together to come up with a coherent, acceptable and practical plan suggests that either: 1) it’s not possible or 2) the constant whinging is from people who are less capable than our elected councillors, despite what they may want us to think.

        Either way, times up.

    • John Perkins Reply

      April 19, 2017 at 10:52 am

      Paul Bishop is suggesting that those who paid GBC to produce a plan should now provide one themselves. Why keep a dog if it forces you to bark yourself?

  2. Lisa Wright Reply

    April 18, 2017 at 1:53 pm

    Many alternative brownfield sites have been put forward but GBC have chosen the ones they would like to build on.

    Blackwell Farm has so many problems with its proposal for 1,800 homes, with traffic, flooding, AONB access, protected species, grade 2 farmland, ancient woodland, historical context, green belt, pollution and air quality and so on.

    Other sites that have been dropped do not have these issues but it would seem GBC are supporting the rich and powerful university over other landowners.

    The university also has existing permission to build approx 3,000 student residences and 300 staff homes on its Manor Park site, next to Surrey Sports park but chooses not to build them.

    Sadly, it seems taxpayer and public donated money will also be wasted when the site is heard by the Planning Inspectorate.

    The question is, why?

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