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Councillors Speak Out Against Large Scale Development in Normandy

Published on: 19 May, 2016
Updated on: 21 May, 2016

Two councillors have spoken out against large scale developments in Normandy in the wake of a Guildford Dragon NEWS interview with a Normandy Action Group (NAG) campaigner.

Cllr David Bilbe

Cllr David Bilbe

David Bilbé, a borough councillor who represents Normandy at Guildford Borough Council (GBC) was recently promoted to the Executive and made the lead councillor for economic development. He told The Dragon that he had said, at a May 11 public meeting, organised by NAG: “I am opposed to the large number of houses proposed for Normandy. The number is too high.

“I am concerned about the empirical logic which supports the required exceptional circumstances to remove the site and surrounding village from the green belt. I am not convinced of the sustainability argument, the clear need for a secondary school and the fact that the site is not safeguarded. It was only suggested as such in an earlier draft.

“There is a process which requires systematic input from residents of the village I will do all I can explicitly and implicitly to ensure: 1. the number of proposed houses is reduced; 2. that I represent the villagers views in the decision process as robustly as I can.”

Cllr Keith Witham

Cllr Keith Witham

Keith Witham, the county councillor who represents the Worplesdon division, which includes Normandy, said today (May 18): “I don’t think the case for a new secondary school has been proven, and if there is such a need in Guildford, I don’t believe it is  needed in the location proposed.

“I am pressing Surrey County Council for primary and secondary school stats to show the position – but my understanding is that a new secondary school would only be needed to serve the thousands of new properties proposed in the GBC revised Local Plan, not the existing primary pupil population.

“The traffic impacts on Glaziers lane, the D60 is an unclassified Road plus the C16 – the Wanborough Hill and Westwood Lane – and of course the A323 Guildford/Aldershot Road, are issues I will press Surrey County Council about because they are roads which just can’t take a development of the size proposed by GBC.

Normandy green belt land

Normandy green belt land

“I am also highlighting SCC policy which supports the retention of green belt.

“There will be severe environmental consequences of building 1,100 new homes in a village like Normandy, in essence doubling its size, and the proposal is not acceptable.

“Personally I would prefer GBC to revise its planned housing numbers downwards, and then ask each village in Guildford to identify smaller, local plots, that could be developed “organically” in each parish, so not overloading existing facilities, rather than the super “strategic sites”, as in the existing plan.”

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Responses to Councillors Speak Out Against Large Scale Development in Normandy

  1. Peta Malthouse Reply

    May 20, 2016 at 2:57 pm

    Keith Witham has come up with a way forward that I think a lot of parish councils would be happy to explore.

    It is right, however, that the so called ‘independent’ assessment of housing need has caused massive problems and has been disruptive of a process designed to find the best outcomes for our area.

    A lot of very clever and highly experienced residents of Guildford have tried to make sense of the numbers that are being put forward.

    These are almost twice the figure previously accepted by the High Court as being appropriate under the last (and existing) Local plan.

    They are being prevented from doing so because the borough will still not reveal the details of how its figures were reached.

    Even having agreed that figure, the borough has taken no steps to apply the necessary constraints reflecting the fact that they would be otherwise building on very sensitive green belt land.

    The NPPF specifically provides for this, yet the borough seems to have abandonned this step from the outset.

    Nothing in the documentation provided for so far has dealt with this.

    One has to question the quality of the decision-making process in this matter and how much as a result it will end up costing the borough to force through their ill thought-out plan.

  2. Fiona White Reply

    May 20, 2016 at 9:09 pm

    As the county councillor for a part of the Guildford urban area, I would like to support Cllr Keith Witham’s concerns about the new secondary school proposed as part of the Normandy development.

    I am a governor at Kings College in Guildford. Kings currently has capacity to take more students. I believe that it would also be possible for further expansion on the site when additional school places are necessary in future.

    So far as I am aware, places could be created at a number of schools in the west of Guildford to cope with the anticipated additional numbers of pupils. I hope that very careful consideration will be given to making the best use of what is currently available before any new schools are built.

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