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Letter: Don’t Panic About Green Belt Proposals

Published on: 27 Nov, 2013
Updated on: 27 Nov, 2013

Hogs Back LetterFrom Gordon Bridger

Hon Alderman

The widespread concern  about dangers  of erosion of the green belt resulting from economic development expressed largely through government housing targets has not been helped by the council consultation document.

At present 89% of the borough is in the green belt; a total of  some 24,113 hectares. While the green belt plays and will play an important  part in preserving the quality of our environment it has led to such a high cost of housing, land accounts for more than 50% of a house price, that it is seriously impedes our economic future. Major companies, so we are told, no longer see Guildford as  a development centre due to impossibly high housing costs and traffic congestion.

Our economic future depends upon providing key worker housing, and employment space, for knowledge based services.

If the council does not chose sites for additional housing developers will. We need to produce our own balanced and sustainable economic development plan.

It is likely therefore that some green belt areas (but not AONBs) may be allocated to housing but the amount of land is likely to be trivial; my guess is maybe 0.5%, possibly 120 hectares. Certainly there is no likelihood of huge swathes of land being covered by housing.

This amount of land could be considerably reduced if councillors press for more  housing in the town centre instead of the massive retail expansion our planners have been misled them into supporting. There is very little value added in retail development and it will fall even further as on line shopping takes over.

There is a need and demand for quality market  housing in the centre for the elderly or single people which can be used to fund key worker housing elsewhere. There is also scope for more housing  along the River Wey as David Ogilvie a public spirited architect has proposed, and the university could make better use of it own land. This would reduce pressures on green belt land.

I would urge residents not to panic about proposals, to press the council to develop the town centre as a housing priority, to read the excellent reports produced by the Guildford Society and the Guildford Vision Group and welcome the council’s decision to produce a master plan.

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Responses to Letter: Don’t Panic About Green Belt Proposals

  1. Mike Aaronson Reply

    November 27, 2013 at 11:36 pm

    Yes, but as Gordon Bridger himself points out, companies and would-be investors in the local economy are as much concerned about traffic congestion as they are about housing.

    Nothing is achieved by building extra houses without significant improvements to the transport infrastructure. And Guildford Borough Council’s proposals for housing development can hardly be characterised as “trivial”: for example a 261 per cent increase in Normandy’s housing stock from c.1300 to c.4,700.

    Contrary to what Mr Bridger says, there is a massive likelihood of “huge swathes of land being covered by housing”. For the Normandy example see:

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