Fringe Box



Letter: I Hope Councillors Will Reject Housing Market Assessment

Published on: 26 Feb, 2014
Updated on: 27 Feb, 2014

From Susan Parker, Save Shere, Gomshall and Abinger campaign

There is a meeting tonight (Wednesday, February 26) to debate the number of houses proposed for Guildford, which is a response to the petition that I organised in relation to the Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA).

Hogs Back Letter I am hoping, with ridiculous optimism, that the councillors will show us that not all public meetings are a charade, and that they are capable of thinking for themselves, not just following a pre-determined line. (I have been informed that the motion tonight is going to propose a vote to reject the petition, for the avoidance of any doubt).

This is the link to the petition:

The debate will take place at the council offices in Millmead at 7pm but you can also watch it on a webcast, which you can also watch after tonight, not just live.

The current draft SHMA has been widely noted as inadequate and inaccurate (or similar comments) by a number of respected commentators, not just by me. These include The Guildford Society, CPRE, Surrey Hills AONB, many parish councils, many residents’ associations, the GRA (Guildford Residents’ Associations) and GGG (Guildford Greenbelt Guardians).

I’ve asked the council to copy the submissions of these commentators- or perhaps all submissions – to councillors, so that they can be fully informed. GBC have declined and said: “The e-petition does not ask the council to consider the submissions received in connection with the SHMA consultation.

Councillors have received a thorough briefing on the draft SHMA and will be sufficiently well informed to make a judgement as to the adequacy of it.”

The draft SHMA has six different numbers in relation to the number of households in Guildford. It notes in one place that “overcrowding” is “notably” lower than in England or the South East – but then adjusts the numbers upwards to avoid overcrowding.

It notes that housing “is now relatively affordable”, “as affordable as it was in the late 1990s”; but then ratchets up the number of homes needed to make them more affordable. It has a table showing that the average house in Guildford is lower than the average in Surrey as a whole (mean in Guildford £411, 100, mean in Surrey £415,554) but then states that mean prices are substantially above the average.

When the statistics quoted by the consultants refute the statements that they make, then the report is inadequate.

It is required to be objective, proportionate and realistic, but proposes 800 homes per annum, or an additional 16000 new homes, which is approximately an increase of 30% in the number of households in Guildford. The increase in the number of homes anticipated in the UK over roughly the same period (to 2027) is around 11%.

I hope that the councillors will show us that they have the courage to reject this substandard work and demand that adequate work is done which meets our needs and is indeed proportionate, objective, and realistic.

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