Fringe Box



Letter: Saying ‘Trust Us’ Does Not ‘Cut It’ When it Comes to the SHMA

Published on: 17 May, 2016
Updated on: 17 May, 2016

GL Hearn SHMA Oct 2015From Neville Bryan

I find the comment from Cllr Spooner, in response to Ben  Paton’s letter: Housing Assessment – Council Is Failing to Exercise Contractual Rights, unbelievable.

All GBC has to do is fully and openly explain the SHMA [Strategic Housing Market Assessment] to us, the public, in terms we can understand, and justify any decisions taken which lead to such a high housing number. Then we can have meaningful debate as to those decisions and start a path to resolve this pending disaster.

This is not new. We had the same problems with the previous 2014 SHMA when 652 houses per year was being proposed*, and we had the same lack of information.

When in February 2015, the Office of National Statistic (ONS) revised the Guildford population forecast down by 30 per cent (the 2012 census counts were included) that should have been translated into a corresponding reduction in housing number. Instead, GBC’s next SHMA revision, provided by GL Hearn, went up by six per cent, defying all logic.

emails letterThe ONS have acknowledge their model was not a catch all, and large bodies like the University of Surrey’s student population were having a disproportionate effect on housing numbers – and still caveats the issue.

The GL Hearn SHMA documents still appear to be selective about the data and time periods selected. They fail to list the assumptions on the base ONS data is used, fail to clarify how ONS data is used (and in an flexible process like SHMA compilation that is critical), and still fail to take any account of the massive effects caused by the university, to name a few issues.

I am reasonable comfortable with numbers, as are many people in the resident body organisations, yet we can make no sense of this supposedly “open and clear” document.

There is a business concept which I often use when looking at people and process performance. Its called, “Will do/Won’t do. Can do/Can’t do”

It appears to me GBC can, but GBC won’t. In the interests of avoiding conflict and a failed Local Plan, I plead with them to prove me wrong and put all the assumptions, logic, and information into the public domain for scrutiny, so we can get this resolved.

Clearly it is nobody’s interest to take this dispute to the PINS (Planning Inspectorate) or a judicial review – and certainly not when it is, to me at least, GBC who are being unnecessarily obstructive.

Suggestions that we challenge at PINS or request a judicial review to me suggest a degree of recklessness with our money and our town. Not resolving this will cost a lot, and will put a torpedo Local Plan timeline.

But it now feels that’s where this dispute will take us. The public cannot let this stand as is. While this issue remains unexplained, a huge developer led sword is hangs over Guildford, and while this aura of secrecy is maintained – many of us will not let this go.

Saying “trust us” does not “cut it” with so much at stake.

[The draft West Surrey Strategic Housing Market Assessment, published in December 2014 stated that the “overall need for housing over the 2001-2031 period was 620 to 816 homes. The full OAN (Objectively Assessed Need) was described as “up to 816 homes per annum.” Ed]

Share This Post

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 *