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Green Belt Pressure Group Launches New Petition Claiming Council ‘Still Isn’t Listening’

Published on: 24 Apr, 2014
Updated on: 24 Apr, 2014

The Guildford Greenbelt Group (GGG) has stepped up its campaign over the borough’s forthcoming housing plans with the launch of a new petition, which it has created on the ‘epetition’ section of the council’s own website.

The Guildford Greenbelt Groups wants to make sure local countryside is not built upon.

The Guildford Greenbelt Group wants to make sure local countryside is not built upon.

In a statement issued this week, GGG says the petition calls on the council to reject its “pro-development, pro-building strategy”, adding that GGG’s members believe the proposals to date would mean building more housing than needed. GGG said: “Guildford Borough Council still isn’t listening. So we are launching another petition to make the point again.”

GGG points out in its statement that Guildford Borough Council has just published its summary of the responses to the Issues and Options Consultation that finished last November. GGG says the council “replied to points made by respondents (misinterpreting some comments and making some basic errors) and has summarised its conclusions”.

The chairman of GGG, Susan Parker, said: “When you read the summary and responses, it seems clear that the council still wants to build on the green belt, take villages out of the green belt, and expand settlement boundaries. 

“Nothing has changed. Residents are still being ignored. We recognise that there is political pressure to build – but our council is embracing the incentives to build, not resisting them, and the extent is disproportionate.  Too many houses – and too much building – could damage the green belt and our countryside. 

“This country doesn’t need to build on our most beautiful countryside. Growth doesn’t have to come from building.”

At the time of writing, the epetition had received 267 signatures. Their names are published and it can be accessed at

On its website GBC notes: “You can view and sign any current petitions, and see our response to any completed petitions. All petitions that are submitted to this website will be accepted, as long as they are in accordance with our terms and conditions. The aim is to enable as many people as possible to make their views known. To ensure transparency, any petition that cannot be accepted will be listed, along with the reasons why.”

GGG members say they are concerned about conflicts of interest, adding. “In addition to permitting direct comment from housebuilders, the Enterprise M3 LEP (Local Enterprise Partnership) has housebuilders and developers on its planning committee. Members are also concerned that the Council Executive are more influenced by the prospect of the New Homes Bonus (money from government for building new housing estates) and the Community Infrastructure Levy (money from developers on larger estates) than they are about damage to our countryside.”

Nick Norton of GGG, the petition organiser, said: “Consultation seems to have gained a high level of importance recently as a result of the Local Plan process and I’m disappointed that a document like the Corporate Plan, that has such widespread community importance, has not been subject to a similar consultation process.

“Personally, I’d like to know in advance – and have some input into – how the council proposes to direct itself and our council tax over the forthcoming years of the Corporate Plan and what impact that is likely to have on the community in which I live, rather than the council simply publish plans developed behind closed doors, and be damned; of what are they afraid? Why not consult with residents as part of the process and build a stronger shared plan of the future?

“If the result of a closed corporate policy formation process is support for the potential building of thousands of unnecessary new houses that will swamp borough villages to the detriment of the green belt and the built environment, then councillors that fail to recognise the immediacy of today’s connected world and fail to consult the evolving wishes of those that elected them last time round, who might not share the councillors’ apparent boom-and-bust property-building economic growth aspirations, should not be surprised if they find themselves no longer councillors when the electoral cycle catches up with them.”

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Responses to Green Belt Pressure Group Launches New Petition Claiming Council ‘Still Isn’t Listening’

  1. Jules Cranwell Reply

    April 25, 2014 at 8:55 am

    At the debate on the last petitions, a hard won amendment was agreed that allows for public involvement in the review of the evidence base for the proposed housing numbers.
    Guildford Borough Council has shamefully failed to honour this, and have instead talked at concerned members of the public at various events. No comments from the public have been seriously considered, or reflected in the review.

    A target of 322 houses per annum has been sufficient since 2007. We still have no answer from GBC as to why they have allowed developers and their consultants to inflate this to 800 per annum until 2031.

  2. Frank Phillipson Reply

    April 26, 2014 at 3:55 pm

    It seems to me that the Conservative party, once the custodians of the countryside, are now more interested in lining the pockets of their friends in the development industry.
    In short, it is more about “how much money can we make,” while dressing it up as necessary for the country’s economy. I can see this (hopefully?) backfiring as there are Conservative voters who do not agree with this policy.
    And will protesting make any difference? Probably not. With Conservative Central Office dictating what goes on in Local Government (Cllr Mansbridge’s own letter to the Prime Minister complaining that they are being told how to vote) I can see this plan being steam rollered through.

  3. Michael Bruton Reply

    April 27, 2014 at 2:06 pm

    In their 2010 Election Manifesto, Guildford Conservatives promised to protect the green belt. A categorical promise. In fact they had taken a Labour Government in the form of John Prescott to court over housing numbers and had the number reduced to a reasonable number – 322 per annum.

    Now, Guildford’s Tory Party wants around 800 homes per annum across the borough – trashing the green belt in the process.

    Given the letters to Guildford from the planning minister Nick Boles, there is no pressure at all on Guildford to do this. So who do we believe – Guildford Tories saying they are being pressurised or Whitehall saying ‘It’s down to Guildford – Not Us !’

    The fact is though that in Guildford borough the Tories have reneged on their 2010 election promise. They vote like lemmings to hand over the green belt to developers – to be wrecked by the bulldozer and concrete mixer. As someone who voted for them in 2010 I feel cheated by this bunch. No wonder so many are standing down in 2015. Those who are betraying the borough, might otherwise be rejected by voters. And deservedly so.

    Delays in Guildford producing its Local Plan are down to councillors and its senior officers. One only has to look at the adjoining borough of Woking in contrast. Woking has had its Local Plan approved – with 292 new homes per annum. The Local Plan lasts 20 years. So we have Woking with 5,840 over that period with Guildford Borough thinking that it should permit 16,000 new homes – a 30% increase approx. in size.

    In its latest propaganda sheet ‘About Guildford’ – nicknamed as ‘Town Hall Pravdas’ by Secretary of State Eric Pickles – Guildford’s headline is ‘A Budget for Growth’. The current generation of Guildford Tories are planning a re-run of the 1960s/70s but this time for both town and countryside – when then they approved the destruction of much of Guildford town. We experience Guildford’s architectural obscenities today, as a result.

    One way forward – and this happens elsewhere already – is that we have ‘Independent Guildford Protect’ candidates for the 2015 borough elections standing in wards where candidates of any party seem content to trash either town or countryside. It will shock the Tories in central government and if successful could result in a Local Plan which reflects the wishes of the whole community.

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