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Letter: Homeworkers Can Force Radical Change To Guildford’s Housing Future

Published on: 21 Aug, 2020
Updated on: 21 Aug, 2020

From Jules Cranwell:

In response to Opinion: R4GV Sees Chance to Challenge Local Plan in White Paper

At last, a voice of reason from GBC. The council has a right, and a duty to review the Local Plan as circumstances change.

Covid-19 has brought about the biggest change in working practices since the Industrial Revolution.

Firms including BP, PwC, and Schroders will retain most of their staff as remote workers. Many more will follow. They will drastically reduce their office real estate and reap the cost-savings.

Homeworkers no longer have to be concentrated in the south-east or Surrey. Remote workers will move to where housing is far less expensive and get a bigger bang for their buck.

Why would workers choose to remain in overcrowded, gridlocked and polluted Surrey, when they can move to beautiful and quiet Yorkshire, Devon or Cornwall?

Plainly, Guildford will need only a fraction, if any, of the houses proposed in the discredited Local Plan.

Time has come for GBC to get its act together, and give residents what they want, not what developers want.

Developers, such as Taylor-Wimpey should also take a long, hard look at their proposals for “garden villages” because these are likely to become empty white elephants, if built. I for one, will not lose any sleep when they go bust.

I repeat, GBC has a duty to review, given the “new normal”.

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test 11 Responses to Letter: Homeworkers Can Force Radical Change To Guildford’s Housing Future

  1. Jan Messinger Reply

    August 21, 2020 at 2:50 pm

    If you have looked at the prices of properties in Cornwall recently, you still have to earn a very good salary.

    However, the highly populated south east of England may change. The thing is, look at what else the south east has to offer. Well at the moment anyway.

  2. David Middleton Reply

    August 22, 2020 at 12:13 am

    All very well saying that the workers of the future will want to work from home and move to places like Yorkshire, but will they really?

    I spend a lot of time up in North Yorkshire and it’s truly a beautiful place. I may even retire up there. But for a young family, moving up from the south, it would be a culture shock.

    12 to 16 mile drive to get to a large(ish) supermarket. 34 miles and an hour’s drive on country roads, to the nearest large hospital with full A&E facilities. 24 miles and 45 minutes to the nearest cinema. 31 miles and 50 minutes to the nearest mainline rail station.

    There simply isn’t the infrastructure up there to support a large population increase.

    There would need to be more hospitals, doctors surgerys, dentists, shops, retail parks, houses, buses, railway stations, everything.

    And with all that, the house prices will rise and you might as well have stayed in Surrey.

    • David Roberts Reply

      August 24, 2020 at 11:32 am

      In rural Gwynedd, I see one school after another closing because there are no longer any children. Something’s wrong, surely!

  3. Lisa Wright Reply

    August 23, 2020 at 1:35 pm

    I agree with Jules. There’s three of us working from home at my house. Of my whole family/close friends, there’s only a few actually required to attend the office full time, most are now contracted to attend the office just once a week.

    As such, quite a few of them are now assessing whether they can move further away from the office and rather than spending 3-4 hours a day commuting to London will now only do one long day a week instead. Ditto those that once needed regular access to major airports as international business travel has almost ground to a halt. My husband who would usually be travelling at least every month will now only be required to fly a few times a year, if that.

    The whole hospitality sector in London is on the floor as there aren’t any commuting customers and it won’t be long before companies start selling their large office buildings.

    London and commuter towns will need to rethink their whole housing and transport policies as the world has seen a step change in what normal is and what it will become.

    I note the lack of facilities in more rural parts but surely we’ve learnt through lockdown how little we actually need to be happy? Perhaps all those local shops and pubs will now thrive? We also have to look at the popularity of ‘Escape to the Country’ shows to know that most folk would prefer a quieter, healthier life.

    However, I do feel for the small, attractive, rural communities who may now see an influx of demanding Londoners looking for a sushi bar and Lebanese delicatessen and will complain about church bells and tractors.

  4. Fiona Curtis Reply

    August 23, 2020 at 1:48 pm

    As with all things, there has to be a will to change and one size seldom fits all. Even if a relatively small percentage found they could successfully work without a city or town based office, the change this could bring about would be significant and should be accounted for [along with Brexit, climate change pledges and the decrease in ONS population projections].

  5. Mike Hurdle Reply

    August 23, 2020 at 2:00 pm

    David Middleton points to the lack of infrastructure in places like Yorkshire and the expanded provision required if the population were to increase. But the same is true of Surrey – huge infrastructure would be needed if the Local Plan were to be implemented.

    Unlike Surrey, however, Yorkshire has the space to build some infrastructure whereas Surrey is over-developed already, and there is no feasible solution to our overcrowded roads.

    Jules Cranwell is right to warn of Surrey becoming ‘overcrowded, gridlocked and polluted’. Even before lockdown the Local Plan was a flawed proposition, but in the future – a future of remote working – it will be regarded as outdated 20th century thinking.

  6. Linda Parker Picken Reply

    August 23, 2020 at 2:40 pm

    This was part of my speech in objection to the planned development of 29 residential units north of Heath Drive in Send. The application was refused earlier this week.

    “I believe that Covid19 has been a game changer for proposed major infrastructure projects, retail shopping and office working. The widening of the A3 through Guildford is off the table for the time being.

    “Guildford town centre offers the potential for many residential units in shops that have closed or will close due to the trend to shop online rather than in retail centres. The PM’s proposal that shops may now convert to residential use with minimum planning requirements will speed that up.

    “And it’s also likely that more empty local offices will convert to residential use. Plus the advantages of Send’s location for London commuters has been reduced by home working becoming more the norm during the pandemic.”

  7. John Lomas Reply

    August 23, 2020 at 4:38 pm

    They will of course then change the rules about council tax and casual use of the home for business and start charging business rates.

    But will the employers pay that?

  8. Keith Reeves Reply

    August 23, 2020 at 10:19 pm

    “Up to a point”, Lord Copper/Jules”.

    No doubt there will be medium to long term changes to some working patterns. However, it’s a fantasy to think every office worker will be able, or want, to work from home permanently. Who knows – employers might actually want you to attend in person for a certain proportion of days, at the employees’ cost. Not so enticing when you’ve moved to Cornwall or Croatia!

    I’m not sure that Taylor Wimpey’s employees will be pleased to hear that Jules will lose no sleep if they become unemployed. I wish correspondents would be a little more thoughtful before they put fingers to their keypads.

  9. Paul Jarvis Reply

    August 24, 2020 at 11:18 am

    I’d suggest re-writing the entire local plan based on the working arrangements at the tail end of a global pandemic is probably not the smartest of moves.

    Working practices may be changing at present but we need to be a couple of years out of the pandemic to see if any of these changes really stick.

    • Jim Allen Reply

      August 24, 2020 at 5:20 pm

      Perhaps the Local Plan should be re-written with the capacity of the infrastructure as the main point of reference.

      I still have zero confidence that we will have drinking water in 15 years if all houses planned are completed.

      There is no rational plan to deal with the current home workers ‘needs’ for waste disposal, electricity supply, or ability to travel.

      What I see is large organizations with head offices controlled from ‘pension funds overseas’ who have no interest in actually providing our services – as long as they can steal the money for upgrades and pay to the funds.

      They remain with their heads inverted in the sands of profit over function.

      The ‘off ‘wats’ ‘coms’ ‘gas’ of our country bowing to the very PLC’s they are meant to control; the PLC’s claiming they can’t afford to install infrastructure, while raising prices and taking more profit – something needs to change.

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