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Guildford Needs 693 Houses-a-year According to Housing Market Assessment

Published on: 4 Oct, 2015
Updated on: 4 Oct, 2015
Guildford Housing House Number

Existing Guildford housing south of the cathedral looking towards the Hog’s Back. How many more do we need?

The Borough of Guildford requires 693 houses to be built each year until 2033 according to an assessment carried out by consultants jointly hired by Guildford, Waverley and Woking Borough Councils.

The latest information on the amount and type of housing needed across Guildford, Waverley and Woking for the period 2013 to 2033 is included in the final West Surrey Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) published on Friday (October 2) which will form an important part of the evidence base for the new Local Plan.

The SHMA looked at how much housing is needed need across the three boroughs. It claims to set out an objectively assessed need for each council and the whole housing market area.

Most of those who have passed comment have said that the figure should not be considered a target and that constraints, such as the availability of necessary infrastructure, will need to be applied.

GL Hearn, who conducted the assessment, concluded that the need for market and affordable housing across Guildford borough is 693 houses per year. The draft SHMA, published in December 2014, identified a need of between 620 and 816 homes per year. But following recent planning inspectors’ decisions at local plan examinations, it is clear that a definitive number must be stated.

Understanding the objectively assessed need is the first stage in defining the housing number.  The final number included in the Local Plan for Guildford will also need to take account of the constraints in the borough, including green belt, flooding, landscape and infrastructure such as transport.

The assessed need for housing in Waverley is 519 per year and for Woking 517.

Cllr Paul Spooner

Cllr Paul Spooner

Lead councillor for planning, Cllr Paul Spooner (Con, South Ash & Tongham), said: “The housing figure for Guildford borough gives us something to work with and test against the constraints that exist in our area.

“Further analysis will need to be carried out to identify whether this figure is sustainable. Assessment of housing for the future is set against the backdrop of a growing need from all age-groups in our society – from helping people to get on to the property ladder to helping older people downsize.

“We also need to support the growing workforce in the area. The consultants who produced our Employment Land Needs Assessment (ELNA) estimate a growth of 17,738 jobs up to 2033. This is a very important factor to take into consideration.”

Cllr Stephen Mansbridge

Cllr Stephen Mansbridge

Leader of the council, Cllr Stephen Mansbridge (Con, South Ash & Tongham), said: “Our announcement of the final assessed figure for housing in the borough is a vital step forward in progressing the new Local Plan.

“This figure takes into account factors such as population forecasts, rise in local employment, market indicators and the needs of specific groups including young people, those experiencing difficulty accessing the housing market and the elderly.

“We want to make Guildford a better place to live, work and visit, balancing the needs of town, villages and countryside. Addressing housing needs is crucial to a thriving and successful borough.”

Cllr Julia Potts, deputy leader of Waverley Borough Council said: “This document is the outcome of collaborative working amongst the three authorities that make up the West Surrey strategic housing market area and a good example of joint working.”

Cllr Liz Hogger

Cllr Liz Hogger

Cllr Liz Hogger (Effingham) speaking on behalf of the Lib Dem group at GBC said: It’s important that the SHMA housing figure is treated as no more than the starting point on the road to setting a housing target for the next draft Local Plan, especially as many will question the growth predictions in these times of economic uncertainty. 

“We should not plan for so many new homes that our roads cannot cope, and we must protect our environment in both town and countryside. Lib Dem councillors will be looking to see that infrastructure and green belt constraints are rigorously applied, and that the final housing target includes a high proportion of desperately needed affordable homes.

Cllr Susan Parker

Cllr Susan Parker

Cllr Susan Parker, leader of the Guildford Greenbelt Group said: “The previous draft SHMA, with its range of 620-816 homes per annum, was found to be deeply flawed in its calculations by many commentators, including the Office of National Statistics but the new ‘final’ housing number, 693 homes per year, is still within the range of the discredited previous draft.

“693 houses per year would give a housing number of 13,860, a 25% increase compared to our current housing stock.

“Do we need really 13,860 extra homes for an increased population of 21,179, of whom more than 4,000 will be students?

“This is not justified by real housing need. The report notes 27 homeless families housed in temporary accommodation in Guildford, and 403 families in need.

“The assessment exceeds the number of homes one might expect given normal rates of expansion, and is based on inflated estimates of economic growth. It is a number chosen to justify over-development.”

Julian Lyon

Julian Lyon

Julian Lyon, chairman of the Guildford Society said: “This is not exactly a surprise and there will be some fierce disagreements over the methodology and approach.  Be those as they may, there is now an adopted objective assessment of need.

“This is not a target. The key process now is to fully understand the constraints and to establish what a deliverable target should be. The Guildford Society had said we saw no evidence to move from our own 345 homes target. Unscientific straw polls at meetings on the Local Plan had tended towards a figure in the mid 400s.

“We remain very concerned as to the effect a high target will have on the town and borough, but we also know that there are many capacity constraints and we will aim to highlight these to the council over the coming months.”

The joint SHMA can be viewed online at:

A GBC press release stated: “We have also published a number of other documents that contribute towards Guildford’s new Local Plan evidence base. These include the Employment Land Needs Assessment (ELNA) and the Retail and Leisure Study Update. These can be viewed online at and

“The ELNA sets out the amount of floorspace and land needed for business, industry and storage over the Local Plan period.  The ELNA also identifies key strategic sites to protect and further develop for business and employment. These include Guildford Town Centre employment core, Surrey Research Park, Slyfield Industrial Estate, Cathedral Hill Industrial Estate, Henley Business Park and London Square Cross Lanes.

“We need to plan for a balance of homes and jobs so that we can minimise commuting and its impacts on congestion and air quality. For this reason the ELNA and SHMA have been prepared in parallel so that we can ensure that future employment and business growth is not restricted by a lack of employees due to a shortage of housing.”

The Retail and Leisure Study Update quantifies need for new retail floorspace to meet every day convenience and comparison shopping needs over the plan period. The study makes suggestions regarding the most suitable locations to provide this floorspace, assesses the existing centres and makes recommendations for their future. The study also considers future leisure needs, including gyms and cinemas.

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Responses to Guildford Needs 693 Houses-a-year According to Housing Market Assessment

  1. John Robson Reply

    October 6, 2015 at 10:00 am

    “17,738 jobs up to 2033”, excellent news…

    Will all of these people also live in Guildford and be thus be walking, cycling and skipping to work?

    If so why the need to replicate the M3 to bisect Guildford unless the displaced of London require an expedient route to get back up to London and reach their desks on time?

  2. Jules Cranwell Reply

    October 6, 2015 at 4:57 pm

    I believe GBC has confused demand with ‘need’

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