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Last-Minute Ban on Lib Dem Bid to Bar Local Plan’s Excess Green Belt Sites

Published on: 9 Apr, 2019
Updated on: 9 Apr, 2019

Guildford Liberal Democrats are frustrated by the borough council’s belated decision to bar their amendment to a motion at this evening’s (April 9, 2019) council meeting, calling for a deferral of the April 25 debate on whether to adopt the Local Plan. The Lib Dems wanted time to consider deletion of the surplus green belt allocations.

Liz Hogger, the Lib Dem lead on planning, who was to second the amendment, said: “The problem is that this Local Plan is fundamentally different from the Plan submitted to government in December 2017.

Cllr Liz Hogger

“The council argued successfully at the February Local Plan hearing for a lower housing target, but failed to ask for a corresponding reduction in green belt release. That was a decision of the Conservative Executive, and other councillors had no say on that approach.

“We are now being asked to adopt a Plan which takes too much land out of the green belt and opens the door to developers keen to build thousands of extra homes on greenfield sites across the borough.”

Lib Dem group leader Caroline Reeves, who was to propose the amendment, said: “It is disappointing that councillors have been denied the chance to debate our proposal in public tonight. All councillors should have had the chance to consider the advice the officers received on this really vital issue.

Cllr Caroline Reeves

“Councillors will have to make a decision on adopting the Local Plan on a ‘take it or leave it’ basis. Either adopt this Local Plan with its lower housing target but excess loss of green belt, or run the risk of the government insisting on a higher housing requirement if the Plan is revised and resubmitted, effectively gambling with the borough’s future.”

The Lib Dem amendment was submitted to the council on April 3, yet only on April 8 were they told it would not be accepted. Council officers said they had taken advice and the council has no powers to modify the Plan at this stage. They said the council must decide either to adopt the Local Plan or not adopt it.

See also: Lib Dems Will Be Supporting an Amended Motion to Defer Local Plan Adoption – Reactions

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