Fringe Box



Letter: A Consensus On Building Height Control Is Now Emerging

Published on: 20 Oct, 2023
Updated on: 20 Oct, 2023

From: Richard Mills

Conservative borough councillor for Castle ward

In response to: A Building Heights Policy is Possible and Quite Quickly

The letter from Alistair Smith, chairman of The Guildford Society, arguing that a height policy for Guildford is now possible, is timely.

I would go further and suggest that a consensus in favour of it is now emerging.

At the local election in May, both the Conservatives and R4GV committed themselves to such a policy and other parties were broadly sympathetic, although the precise position of the Liberal-Democrats was somewhat opaque.

Shortly after the election, I tabled a question to the leader of the council asking if she would urgently bring forward proposals for such a policy. The answer was in two distinct parts.

The first, presumably drafted by officers, rehearsed all the policies available to the borough council to regulate the numerous impacts of building height, but was deafeningly silent on whether in the last few years those policies had proved sufficient and

The second part, I suspect penned more directly by the Leader and her Executive Portfolio Holder for Planning and Environment, struck a different tone from which I believe Mr Smith and those of us who share his views should draw encouragement.

In the first place, it made precisely Mr Smith’s point, that early action is practicable, and also indicated, at least by implication, potential support for it from the Lib Dem administration.

Second, and equally significant, it made implicit reference to recent changes of wording in the Government’s National Planning Guidance, importing the stronger concept of “codes’” prepared by local authorities on such matters rather than just “guidance”.

If the administration is indeed prepared to build on these two propositions I believe they will find the broad cross-party consensus on building height that they claim to want.


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