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Letter: Developer Should Re-negotiate North Street Scheme

Published on: 20 Jan, 2023
Updated on: 20 Jan, 2023

From: Tony Rooth

Independent borough councillor for Pilgrims

It’s a shame that the North Street planning decision should provoke a political “blame game “.

The council’s Executive is there to deliver the council’s Corporate Plan, a vision and mission statement for our borough

The planning committee has a separate, distinct role and independent responsibility. Councillors on the Planning Committee are required to act in a semi-judicial capacity, as representatives of the whole community in making decisions on planning applications.

Planning committee members must act fairly, openly and apolitically and approach each planning application with an open mind avoiding pre-conceived opinions

Hence, they should not be influenced by what their political group wants – they are the jury, not the prosecutors or objectors to a particular application.  The opinions of Executive colleagues from the same political party should not dictate the outcome-Executive councillors are not planning committee members.

In fairness, Lib Dem councillor Pauline Searle indicated that she was generally positive about the scheme but was presumably influenced by the public debate itself to finally vote to refuse

There may well be political agenda from various groups, especially in the run-up to elections in order to claim that they promoted a scheme to regenerate the derelict site in North Street.

The planning officer’s long and detailed report recommended approval of the North Street scheme. The Planning Committee was entitled to reach a different conclusion on planning policy grounds – this was nothing, I can recall similar examples from my 17 years’ experience as a full committee member.

The applicant, St. Edward has three options – to appeal the decision, withdraw from the site or submit a revised application after considering the committee’s decision.

I do not believe they should be encouraged to appeal or walk away but to sit around the table with the council’s planners to seek the third negotiated compromise.

I anticipate that Guildford residents, in general, want our town centre to have the best development which can be realistically delivered rather than something is better than nothing.

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test One Response to Letter: Developer Should Re-negotiate North Street Scheme

  1. Bibhas Neogi Reply

    January 26, 2023 at 4:02 pm

    Cllr Tony Rooth has reflected positively on the situation and has expressed his views on what the developers should do.

    I have commented similarly in response to the letter https://guildford-dragon.com/letter-with-goodwill-the-north-street-application-could-be-suitable-amended/ by Cllr Liz Hogger saying “Solutions are needed and I believe more consultation on aspects that were cited in the reasons for refusal would find an acceptable outcome for all with compromises where necessary…

    “I hope the developer re-examines the objections, consults and reviews the application. A great deal of effort, time and money has been spent preparing this application and it would be a shame to throw all that away.”

    Traffic movements could be redesigned to facilitate entry to and exit from the bus station and the number of bus bays could also possibly be retained so as to preserve the current level of service. My suggestions are in my correspondence dated 28 December 2022, in the GBC Planning Portal 22/P/01336.

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