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Letter: Are the Standards Relating to Planning Application Notifications Fit for Purpose?

Published on: 27 May, 2023
Updated on: 27 May, 2023

From: Martin Elliott

In response to: Locals Object to RHS Wisley’s Plan to Extend Use of Overflow Car Park

Yet again, the applicant and GBC hide behind the statement “all procedures were followed correctly”.

The question within any modern management investigation or culture, compliant to ISO standards, should be, if standards exist, are they fit for purpose.

I believe the legal requirement is still advertising in the local [printed] “paper gazette”, The Surrey Advertiser, and notices posted at the [development] site. Whilst plans are available on the GBC website, is there adequate notification on the modern online media systems?

Editor’s comment: Parliament, after some debate decided to retain, in the draft Media Bill, the requirement for statutory notices to be published in printed media in order to sustain those publications. Unsurprisingly, as we only publish online, we feel that gives printed media with its, generally, declining circulations an unfair advantage. Not only could statutory notices, published online, become more easily accessible they could become cheaper for the public purse if competition was allowed.

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Responses to Letter: Are the Standards Relating to Planning Application Notifications Fit for Purpose?

  1. Julian Lyon Reply

    May 27, 2023 at 4:55 pm

    The key thing is that the Council could decide to introduce more onerous requirements for applicants based on different types of application – this would best be done through the Local Plan process (Development Management Policies) and must be proportionate – for example it might be proportionate to have to include a notice on the neighbourhood sites or The Dragon but almost certainly would not be proportionate to have to let every household know!

    • Ben Paton Reply

      May 30, 2023 at 10:24 am

      Some planning applications will change the shape of the Borough for ever. For those, it is not “disproportionate” to let every household know.
      A storm was kicked up over the lack of advertising of the North Street planning application.

      In many respects that was not a controversial application: there is a general consensus that the site should be re-developed and that turning a car park in the middle of Guildford into housing is a good idea. What upset people was the height of the buildings, for which the borough council has no policy.

      How much more controversial is a whole “new town”, advertised by the developer as the “third largest settlement in the Borough after only Ash and Guildford”?

      This entire new town will completely cover a Site of Nature Conservation Importance, be 400m from a Site of Special Scientific Interest and has no permission to access the A3. Indeed Highways England refused to grant permission in 2017. Nothing has changed. The site contravenes multiple council policies – but the developer has skated over all of them.

      There is now a planning application in front of the relevant Government Minister and I bet half the residents of the Borough know nothing about it.

      The council can and should do a great deal more to make sure that developments of such scale and borough changing importance are properly consulted on – not just left to the developer to “tick a box” by hiring an expensive firm of PR consultants carefully to select some “on-message” comments and edit out anyone who has objected.

      The way the system works at present is a stitch up. The planning system is designed in favour of developers with large budgets and the resources to finesse the system and against residents who cannot deploy the same amounts of money and expertise.

  2. Jim Allen Reply

    May 30, 2023 at 9:46 pm

    The council automatically sends out weekly planning list all you need to do is ask for you name to be on it!it’s automatic and cost nothing

  3. Julian Lyon Reply

    June 6, 2023 at 10:46 pm

    In these days of fake news (and we have seen plenty of that over the past few months) and in the wake of the push notification from the government on our mobile phones, the time has come for certified online news agencies (and the regulated Guildford Dragon NEWS could be one such) to carry a bulletin page on which (similar to the Gazette) statutory notices could be posted without comment.

    GBC could unilaterally decide to make that happen for planning applications and consultations; Surrey County Council could use it to post highways and other similar notifications – all with links to enable the public to see the source documents and comment where appropriate.

    Julian Lyon was a R4GV candidate in the recent GBC election

    Editor’s response: We would be happy to accept such advertising for a negotiated fee but it would also have to be placed in printed media (The Surrey Advertiser for Guildford borough notifications) to meet current legal requirements. I am confident we could make such notices more accessible and easier to read.

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