Fringe Box



Letter: Has Our Local Plan History Destroyed Faith in Our Planning System

Published on: 3 Oct, 2021
Updated on: 3 Oct, 2021

From: Jim Allen

Six years on from the Burpham Neighbourhood plan being adopted and two years on from the Local Plan being passed, within days of local elections, I ask fellow Dragon readers, as an apolitical person, what has happened to democracy in our Borough in respect of planning?

The number of planning applications within Burpham has dropped remarkably, thus meeting the wishes of the residents of Burpham – no complaints of being overridden by planning officers, no more “just add a few more houses” to make up the shortfall, no building in back gardens.

In short, a plan made by people from Burpham is supported by the people of Burpham and is working well to curtail unreasonable planning applications.

But now let’s look at how the “professionals” have fared at Guildford Borough Council our local planning authority (LPA). I have aggregated the numbers of proposed sites in Effingham, Send, Ash, Walnut Tree Close, and the irrational Weyside Urban Village. The total is somewhere in excess of 2,500 units.

Last night was the first of three public meetings to discuss the actions and effects of moving the Sewage Treatment Plan onto a flotation of concrete on driven piles, over a man-made site full of poisonous leachate to enable Weyside Urban Village development.

Whether the officials from the different parties privately think it rational is between them and their official position. The guys from Thames Water have been told to make an omelette so are breaking the necessary eggs while moving a crucial piece of infrastructure. If our sewage is not properly treated we are in serious doo-doo.

I have to ask, if Thames Water PLC are prepared to send six people to a location to discuss local concerns, is it not the moral and community duty of every resident to come along and welcome these people, show an interest, and listen to what they have to say.

But just four people turned up. Thames Water must have sent at least 5,000 letters out.  Yet only four saw fit to take any notice and attend.

Is it the Covid effect? Or is it “Why bother? No one is listening, there is no point,” brought about by the history of 80,000 comments ignored during the consultation on a Local Plan, forced through in the most undemocratic way possible (and, of course, the forced attempted removal of a community asset, the allotments).

I believe the way the Local Plan was dealt with is the cause. Democracy was destroyed in Guildford that day and all who voted for that Local Plan should hang their heads in shame and apologise, on their knees, to the residents of the Borough of Guildford; not just for the bad, poorly worded Plan but the serious damage done to people’s trust of “the system” run by our local council officers and elected officials.

I hope that others affected will now show the guys from Thames Water some respect and go along to one of the next two meetings. Those attending might learn something and might be able to improve their proposal in some small way. They are listening.

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Responses to Letter: Has Our Local Plan History Destroyed Faith in Our Planning System

  1. David Roberts Reply

    October 4, 2021 at 4:38 pm

    I am staggered to hear that the number of planning applications in Burpham has dropped and that the council is taking notice of the Neighbourhood Plan.

    No wonder Lib Dem George Potter, as councillor for Burpham, is so keen on the Tory Local Plan which is redirecting development to places like Ash and the Horsleys, contemptuously sweeping aside the West Horsley Neighbourhood Plan.

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