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Dragon Interview: Lib Dem Planning Chair: ‘Current Policy Doesn’t Work for Local People’

Published on: 19 Jan, 2023
Updated on: 21 Jan, 2023

Cllr Fiona White

By Martin Giles

Planning is the red hot issue at Guildford Borough Council so it is timely to hear from Cllr Fiona White (Westborough) on the Liberal Democrat approach to planning.

Cllr White is the chair of the Planning Committee but she is speaking from her Lib Dem perspective.

Topics covered include:

  • What is the Liberal Democrat vision for Guildford?
  • Can there be political party lines on planning?
  • Why the apparent discrepancy within the Lib Dems between members of the Planning Committee and members of the Executive?
  • What has happened to the 3,000 council houses the Lib Dems promised in 2019?
  • Is our planning policy and process functional?
  • How should voters decide which party to vote for if certain planning policies are their main issue?

Please watch the interview here…

If you are unable to view the video within this article please click on “Watch on YouTube”

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Responses to Dragon Interview: Lib Dem Planning Chair: ‘Current Policy Doesn’t Work for Local People’

  1. David Roberts Reply

    January 19, 2023 at 6:06 pm

    A real car-crash of an interview. Among the insights Cllr White offers are that “we definitely need housing” and that “developers should be looking at the Local Plan”.

    She insists that “there can’t be a party line” on planning, muddling up manifesto policy with pre-determination on individual planning applications. Yet apparently for the Lib Dems a 10-year target for 3,000 council houses “absolutely remains our target”. On architectural style, “I haven’t really thought about it”.

    Cllr White’s performance in reply to a simple reminder that she had said earlier in the interview that “candidates shouldn’t promise any particular line on planning”, is pitiful. If planning should, as she says, “be as local a decision as it can be”, why should we vote for any national party, let alone hers?

    The interview leaves a strong impression that it’s time for Cllr White, a Guildford council leader from the distant past, to retire. I’m sorry that the editor says he does not plan to ask her local party leader to clarify what Lib Dem planning policy is. We’ve heard different versions from Cllr Potter and Cllr White. Cllr McShane now needs to come out of hiding and take responsibility.

    • George Potter Reply

      January 19, 2023 at 9:02 pm

      A deeply ill-informed comment from Mr Roberts. These are not matters of opinion, these are matters of law. If he thinks Cllr White is incorrect then perhaps we could point to the section in planning law which permits political parties on councils to take a party line on a planning application and oblige their planning committee members to vote accordingly.

      Except, of course, he will be unable to as he is completely incorrect, whereas Cllr White, speaking with the benefit of far more experience and appropriate legal guidance, is spot on about how planning law actually works.

      It is also worth pointing out that there is a very big difference between planning law, which must be followed, and planning policies which it is perfectly possible to take a political view on whilst they are being developed.

      George Potter is a Lib Dem borough councillor for Burpham

      • Jules Cranwell Reply

        January 21, 2023 at 3:05 am

        As usual, Cllr Potter is highly opinionated, but fails to address any of Mr Roberts’s particular points.

  2. Jules Cranwell Reply

    January 20, 2023 at 4:44 am

    And what a car crash. “We have lots of brownfield”, yet the Lib Dems prevent it being built on.

    “We need to build what local people need”, yet the LDs have done nothing to prevent the ghastly, high-density, urban sprawl of developments in our villages that local people have made it clear they neither want or need.

    Why should anyone vote for a party that clearly has no vision on planning?

  3. Ben Paton Reply

    January 20, 2023 at 11:58 am

    The origin of this debacle is that 1) the former Lib Dem leader voted with the Conservatives to create this Local Plan 2) the Lib Dems have prevented any revision of the Local Plan and 3) GBC planning officials appear to consider that the planning application for the North Street site complies with the Local Plan 4) LibDems have not held the developer of the North Street site to account for complying with their Local Plan until the final planning committee stage.

    As for promising 3,000 council houses, the Lib Dems might as well promise the sun the moon and the stars. Impractical to the point of being deluded.

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