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Letter: Why Don’t We Know Whether A School At Normandy Is Needed Or Not?

Published on: 29 May, 2016
Updated on: 29 May, 2016

Normandy Village SignFrom Sir Michael Aaronson

How are residents supposed to comment on something that the council does not even know the truth of?

Guildford Borough Council (GBC) has had several years to prepare this Local Plan, and yet here we are at the 11th hour, not knowing whether a major ‘strategic site’, described as ‘an enabling development’ for a ‘much needed’ secondary school, is founded on fact or fiction.

Why haven’t the planners at GBC done their homework better? Could it be that they have been so impressed by the promises of the developer (Taylor Wimpey) to let the council build a school on their site if the latter will just let them build 1,100 houses – all on open green belt land, of course – that they have neglected to find out whether a school is actually needed or not?

Surely they couldn’t be so casual about it? Could they?

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Responses to Letter: Why Don’t We Know Whether A School At Normandy Is Needed Or Not?

  1. Ben Paton Reply

    May 29, 2016 at 7:52 pm

    Why don’t we have a Transport Plan before deciding on the Local Plan?

    Why hasn’t Guildford Borough Council got a copy of the demographic model on which it bases its housing projections?

    Why didn’t the council’s so-called ‘scrutiny’ committee not scrutinise the SHMA?

    Why are there no constraints put on the housing requirement?

    Why are not exceptional circumstances set out to justify building on the green belt – as required by law?

    Why is Ash singled out for special treatment and given new green belt?

  2. Paul Bishop Reply

    May 29, 2016 at 10:59 pm

    It’s quite simple really, if a school is not needed, it will not be built.

    Schools are generally built when others in the locality are at or above attendance targets. Whilst there may be a plan for 1,100 houses, it doesn’t mean 1,100 families with children will move in. It might be 1,100 retired residents with no children, so no school places required.

    The fact GBC have left this as an open site, dependent on requirement, shows a genuine understanding of the importance of green belt and how this must be balanced with the needs of the locals.

    Green belt is great, educated children are better.

  3. Michael Aaronson Reply

    May 30, 2016 at 9:34 am

    So, if I understand correctly, build the houses first and then see whether a school is needed afterwards? That is not a serious approach, and certainly not one that would satisfy a planning inspector.

    No, the theory (and the commitment from Guildford Borough Council) is that if the school is not needed the site will be withdrawn from the Local Plan, given its green belt sensitivity.

    But given that we already know there is no need for a new school (others in the area being under-subscribed), my question was: why is this site still in the plan? Councillors were told repeatedly on Tuesday night that if you take one major site out of the plan the whole thing has to be revisited. So this doesn’t sound like good planning to me.

    • Paul Bishop Reply

      May 31, 2016 at 11:13 am

      Successful planning allows for flexibility. No one can, with 100% accuracy, predict the requirements and needs of our borough in the future. The idea of the Local Plan should be that it tries to understand and accommodate for as many scenarios as can be sensibly predicted. But, as with anything in life, plans need to offer flexibility for change.

      It’s complete folly, or at best naive, to think we can get a plan 100% right today, that will still be correct in 10 years time. Things change, demands change and predictions are proven incorrect. Flexibility is the answer.

  4. Dave Middleton Reply

    May 30, 2016 at 10:27 am

    And of course it’s difficult to plan for how many school places will be required when we don’t know how many with children will be joining the population through our porous national borders.

  5. Lisa Wright Reply

    May 30, 2016 at 4:54 pm

    I suppose that depends on how many houses the university will build on Blackwell Farm?

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