Fringe Box



Guildford Residents Associations Critical Of Draft Local Plan

Published on: 7 Jun, 2016
Updated on: 16 Jun, 2016

Guildford Residents Associations (GRA) has hit out at the borough council’s draft Local Plan with Keith Meldrum, who represents Merrow, saying: “The plan is growth gone mad.”

Image from Guildford Residents' Association website.

Image from Guildford Residents’ Association website.

A press release issued by the GRA, which represents 26 residents’ associations across Guildford borough, makes a number of observations about the latest draft Local plan. They include:

“Infrastructure: Too little too late

  • There is no new road bridge over the railway for our physically divided town and no central, all-directions bus interchange.
  • Vague proposals for a “Snake” (Sustainable Movement Corridor) and A3 improvements offer too little too late.
  • Land is not safeguarded for A3 tunnel entrances or the “Snake”.
  • Residents are disturbed that no one has had a chance to look at a crucial piece of evidence that should have informed the Plan – the long awaited Strategic Transport Assessment.

“Housing: Inflated, ignores constraints and doesn’t address needs

  • GRA members are deeply concerned at the high Housing Target proposed in the Plan – over 13,500!
  • At 693 homes a year, this is over double the previous figure of 322.
  • The Plan’s proposed growth is based on a Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) report which inflates so-called need, is distorted by student numbers, and is based on commercially confidential modelling assumptions that cannot be checked.
  • All other councils in Surrey, apart from Guildford, are applying “constraints” to reduce their overall housing figure.
  • The National Planning Policy Framework allows the overall housing target to be reduced to take account of protected wildlife areas (eg Thames Basin Heath SPA), landscape areas (Surrey Hills AONB), Green Belt, flood risk and significant infrastructure constraints, all of which apply to Guildford.”

In the release, Mr Meldrum said: “This Plan is growth gone mad. It destroys our countryside and fails to prevent town cramming.

“It would destroy the qualities that make Guildford a good place to live and work.

“This plan provides too much land for development and does not do enough to ease congestion.

“Developers will drive a coach and horses through loosely-worded policies promising no growth without infrastructure first.

“Why do we need a 40% increase in retail space in the era of the internet when that land could be used for homes?

“Why are our politicians, who promised to protect [the] green belt, offering up so much countryside for development and making so little progress in better planning the town?

“This Plan is such a blunt instrument that even though it proposes to expand Guildford by a quarter, it cannot be relied upon to provide the types of homes needed locally.  It will not protect the character of our borough.”

“We simply do not understand why our councillors have made a political choice to open the floodgates to expand Guildford on the damaging scale proposed.

“GRA believes this Plan to be unsound and unsustainable. We are calling on councillors to make improvements to the Plan before it is too late and irreparable damage is done to our beautiful historic town and the surrounding countryside which frames it.”

A second six-week public consultation for the draft Local Plan began on Monday, June 6, and runs until Monday, July 18.

Strategy and sites, supporting documents and key evidence, plus details of drop-in events are available to view on Guildford Borough Council’s website at

Information can be also be viewed at the council’s Millmead offices in Guildford and at local libraries within the borough.

You can comment via an online questionnaire by following the link from

Views can be emailed to:

Paper copies of the form are available from the council’s Millmead offices reception, local libraries, at the drop-in events or by phoning 01483 444471.

Send completed forms to: Planning Policy, Guildford Borough Council, Millmead House, Millmead, Guildford, Surrey GU2 4BB.

The council notes that verbal or anonymous comments cannot be taken into consideration.

Comments will be analysed by the council’s planning policy team and will also be submitted to the planning inspector for consideration as part of the Local Plan examination.

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Responses to Guildford Residents Associations Critical Of Draft Local Plan

  1. Clive Winter Reply

    June 8, 2016 at 8:22 am

    A little know fact that is published by Ordnance Survey is that just under 3% of the country’s land is in fact developed.

    This percentage also includes our public open spaces gardens industrial sites and parks.

    Probably for this reason every time I fly I wonder what’s the problem.

    Let’s expand our roads, homes and industry, perhaps another 1%?

    Let’s not live on top of one another and perhaps let’s build a few more rail links.

    The hours we sit in traffic could be better spent with our families.

    • Ben Paton Reply

      June 9, 2016 at 8:50 am

      This observation is based on the assumption that 100% of the land mass is suitable for human habitation and capable of development. That’s plainly wrong.

      Much of the world is not inhabitable by human beings. Within the UK, to include mountain ranges and tidal marshes and land miles from suitable transport in the gross area is misleading.

      The question is what proportion of the land that could sustainably be developed has already been developed in the last two thousand years? The answer is most of it.

      No doubt it is possible to build over good quality farmland. But what will people eat then? And if access to foreign imports is impaired would that not prove rather short sighted? But don’t let long term reality stand in the way of a short term development profit.

    • John Robson Reply

      June 9, 2016 at 9:38 am

      Unfortunately, for whatever reason successive Governments have failed to acknowledge that there is life North of Watford Gap, therein lies the real problem.

      Regenerate the North, properly not just turn them into the call centre region of choice, and you will alleviate the pressure to concrete over the South.

      As for rail and transport links, how many billions have we, will we spend and still can’t seem to get an affordable system that will be comparable with the rest of Europe.

  2. Jim Allen Reply

    June 8, 2016 at 9:22 am

    I agree, the housing number is some 200 a year higher than calculated using the CLG spread sheet.

    Roads and junctions deemed necessary by central goverment officials and GBC in the 1980s have not even been considered in the infrastructure.

    Park and ride buses are being routed through congested areas when they could be using the A3.

    Road junctions proposed do half the job, and fail to solve the whole problem apparently based on developer contribution rather than rational functionality.

    No mention of a tunnel is included, yet is widely accpeted as the financially viable option and a link road across a flood plain is claimed as ‘aspirational’ when it has been down graded from essential infrastructue – the only thing which can be installed on an active flood plain.

    No mention of how access to the SARP project is going to be acheived.

    In short, it is extremely disapointing that GBC planners both elected and paid did not look at archives at the Surrey History Centre before drawing up the plan; and failed to think logically and with common sense rather than trying to open developers’ wallets to pay for past infrastructue deficits.

    The problems of infrastructure are simply too big to expect the developers to pay.

  3. Jules Cranwell Reply

    June 8, 2016 at 7:05 pm

    It is of interest that GRA agrees with the position of the GGG, in respect of most elements of the plan:

    1. Housing number too high.
    2. Green belt to be massively build upon, despite election promises to the contrary.
    3. Questions over the validity of the undisclosed methodology used to establish the housing ‘need’
    4. Too much retail being planned, in the era of Amazon, Ebay etc.
    5. Insufficient attention to town planning.
    6. No application of constraints.
    7. Insufficient infrastructure planning.

    I could go on.

  4. Paul Bishop Reply

    June 8, 2016 at 9:39 pm

    According to their own website, Guildford Residents Association represents 8,360 households in Guildford. In the 2011 census there were 52,000 households in Guildford.

    To be clear, this means this ‘residents association’ actually counts for less than 16% of Guildford households.

    Or to put it less mildly, 84% of Guildford households are not part of the residents association.

    It looks to me as though this is yet another guise for the GGG.

    • Jim Allen Reply

      June 9, 2016 at 12:25 am

      One could look at it the other way – 84% are simply too busy going about their busy lives and can’t get off the financial treadmill of paying the bills to actively take notice, plus the ‘new boys and girls of’ GGG are a fresh political grouping while all the residents associations are in fact apolitical with may colours of the rainbow engaged in voicing rational opinion as a collective.

    • Ben Paton Reply

      June 9, 2016 at 8:56 am

      There is a handful of developers who regularly feature in Guildford Borough Council’s propaganda campaign. Chief among these are those who stand to make the most money from developing green fields: Surrey University and Caymans based Wisley Property Investments and then there is a supporting cast – among whom Surrey University Student’s Union features largely. It has also campaigned for a referendum on an elected Mayor.

      Do these corporate entities represent their own interests or those of the residents of Guildford? Is the Guildford Residents Association more representative of the people who actually live here than the particular interests which actively promote the local plan?

  5. Valerie Thompson Reply

    June 9, 2016 at 8:51 am

    GGG is the only political party willing to stand up and be counted, to preserve the living standards and quality of life local residents have come to this part of Surrey to experience.

    Guildford Residents Association, however small, is entitled to comment on what they, and other protest groups, believe is a misguided and obstinate council, which has refused to consider the views of its populace. GBC is intent on destroying our environment for ever.

  6. Bernard Parke Reply

    June 9, 2016 at 11:29 am

    Perhaps the 8,360 households are the only householders have taken an interest.

    Unfortunately the so-called silent majority only wake up to complain when it is too late to do anything.

  7. David Smith Reply

    June 9, 2016 at 2:14 pm

    Being connected with two properties in the town I have not been asked from any resident association to support criticism of the local plan. So again these groups do not represent my views – have they indeed consulted those in their catchments?

  8. Neville Bryan Reply

    June 11, 2016 at 7:03 am

    Mr Bishop assumes silence means no support. Unlikely, and statistically wrong as level of response and content to the last draft Local Plan consultation proved.

    Mr Bishop’s comparison with the GGG also bears scruitiny, as the comparison suggests that very few people want to build on the green belt.

    Like the recent Guardian countrywide pole suggested, maybe they just don’t – whether their residents, or campaign groups, or mainstream political parties.

    Even the Local Conservative party recognised that when they led their election literature with “save the Greenbelt”. Once elected it does not matter of course, so they decide to propose building / giving away over 6 (SIX) % of it.

  9. Bibhas Neogi Reply

    June 12, 2016 at 6:18 am

    I do not reside in the Guildford Borough Council area, so I only comment on traffic issues that affect me as I often have to drive through Guildford.

    I shall not comment on transport infrastructure of the draft Local Plan as I have over the last six years or so expressed my views quite elaborately through my website. It seems very little gets taken on board and I feel it would be a waste of more of my time to engage any further.

    Good luck to residents of GBC but don’t get too upset as likelihood of any large scale expansion is slim judging by past performance of GBC and SCC. For example, they have been sitting on a fund to ‘improve’ the gyratory for over two years and have done absolutely nothing whilst Bridge Street continues to be hazardous for pedestrians.

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