Fringe Box



Letter: Extra Lanes and Extra Houses Will Not Solve Our Problems

Published on: 5 Aug, 2014
Updated on: 5 Aug, 2014

A3 northbound 2 280 JAFrom Adrian Atkinson

Proposals for extra fourth and fifth lanes for our roads reminds me of an ancient Ben Elton sketch describing additional lanes on the M25. He compared it to putting another empty swing bin next to a full one. You don’t solve the problem. You just end up with two full bins.

More lanes will not tackle the root cause, let alone the further problems they will create. The historic building footprint around our unique geology, geography, topography, estates, fluvial systems etc, puts physical constraints on what can be done. These constraints must to used, as John Robson says in his letter, to release the steam pressure behind the constant drive for physical growth of infrastructure.

It won’t matter how many houses we build in Guildford Borough: our proximity to London will always outstrip supply. London is not the UK’s hub, it is one of the top global hubs, maybe even the very top one. You only have to look at the number of houses being sold to foreign investors.

Now new figures show that wealthy foreign students are outbidding the corporate sector in rentals in the centre of London to access our outstanding universities. Wealthy Chinese families are all planning to send their kids abroad.

These are all big property boulders thrown into our national pond from abroad, creating property ripples out to the suburbs and subsequent pressure on the green belt.

Why should we convert our green fields of our own future generations into Ben Elton’s “swing bins”?

Share This Post

Responses to Letter: Extra Lanes and Extra Houses Will Not Solve Our Problems

  1. Brian Walter Reply

    August 6, 2014 at 2:55 pm

    Housing in the Guildford area always feels like an insurmountable problem, but we cannot allow a situation to continue where our children (and grandchildren) cannot afford to live and work locally.

    Whilst the presumption should surely always be in favour of brownfield rather than green belt development, and housing needs take priority over developer profit, “No” is not the answer to those who need somewhere to live.

  2. Adrian Atkinson Reply

    August 6, 2014 at 5:58 pm

    I’m not a “no” person I’m just a no to excessive development.

    I agree with a sensible housing number of around 350 per annum which is based on correct ONS data, correctly calculates historic housing provision, uses a smoother ten year view of the past versus a blip within a particular five year period, allows for windfalls throughout the plan, applies constraints unique to our area, treats our high student numbers correctly, includes empty homes in the calculation, etc.

    This number is possible without concreting over our fields. The current Draft Local Plan is advocating a flawed, excessive figure of 652 per annum with next to none on brownfield sites.

    I agree we need the right housing in the right place, however, building lots won’t solve any of our existing or future problems and certainly will never solve the affordability issues of the borough.

    I know of a development in Central London which had to provide a certain number of affordable flats in the skyscraper as part of the plan. The site was too lucrative to do that so they built them 13 miles away.

    There are other loopholes and vague worded policies in the Draft Local Plan the developers will use and currently use to build the houses they want, not the houses the borough needs or you hope for. The link here reports the growing use of a new act (The Growth and Infrastructure Act 2013) for developers to appeal their affordable housing obligations.

    The local plan, in its current draft form, will not deliver what the borough needs and can cope with.

  3. Fiona White Reply

    August 6, 2014 at 10:31 pm

    Out of all the people I have spoken to about the local plan and housing numbers, I think maybe two or three have suggested that we should not provide housing to meet local (ie Guildford borough) needs. All the rest recognise that there is a housing need and that we should find a way of meeting it.

    I am not convinced that the local plan as drafted will provide for our needs. What is really needed in the borough is an emphasis on housing which is affordable by people on middle to low incomes whereas developers will always prefer building executive homes. They will often argue that meeting the affordable needs requirement will make their site unviable and there is wording in one of the plan policies which means that community benefits, such as affordable housing, can be negotiated away on that basis.

    I am also very concerned that existing communities are under threat of being overwhelmed by the housing number requirements.

    So first of all we need to establish real housing needs of this borough, both by number and type of housing. Then the plan needs to be drawn up to meet that need and not to provide for overflow from London.

    Fiona White is a Surrey County Councillor (Lib Dem) for Guildford West.

  4. Ben Paton Reply

    August 7, 2014 at 12:00 am

    The NPPF (National Planning Policy Framework) requires that development planning promotes sustainable development, and specifies that this entails the pursuit of economic, social and environmental gains “jointly and simultaneously”. It also says that we should live within “environmental limits”.

    Where does the Draft Local Plan consider the environmental limits in this borough?

    Will we always be able to import grains from Ukraine and Russia – 3rd and 10th biggest global exporters of wheat?

    More houses and more roads by themselves do not create wealth.

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 *