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Letter: Is Our Planning System Beyond Repair?

Published on: 10 Jul, 2022
Updated on: 10 Jul, 2022

From: Neville Bryan

In response to: Those Asking for a Local Plan Review Should be Careful What They Wish For

It appears to me that the whole sense of logic, fairness, right and wrong are lost in the planning process. The politicians appear to want houses at any cost, regardless of the electorate’s wishes. The developers hold sway with nothing able to touch or dent their aim to make money by providing them. The illusion of more genuinely affordable houses is just that, an illusion.

The truth is as simple as it has been since 2014 when the first SHMA (Strategic Housing Market Assessment) housing number was produced, namely that the Guildford requirement of 562 house year is too high and the product of an unclear process, using false assumptions to meet a need only those with vested interests (landowners and builders) benefiting.

The undue influence of the rapid growth in student numbers of University of Surrey (also a large landowner of, now-former, green belt land) accounted for most of the population growth. Students are by their nature transitory as most leave after their studies, guaranteed in Guildford due to the high numbers of foreign students included who also go home on completion of their studies.

The publication by the ONS (Office for National Statistics) in June 2022 of the 2021 census, shows a Guildford borough population of 143,600 against a Local Plan assumption of 153,000. Finally, we have clear demonstratable evidence that the Guildford Local Plan requirement for 562 additional houses per year is built on a totally fabricated need.

The Guildford housing number, the calculations for which were kept so secret was wrong. It was a mistake, an error. The actual need is closer to 100 per year.

It follows that the large tracts of land removed from the green belt to build houses on was also an error.

So how do we fix it? Instead of correcting the wrongs of this process, correcting the housing number, correcting the tragedy to the people of Guildford of the loss of their environment, what do we get from representatives of our local electorate. “Be careful what [you] wish for”….

Sorry Cllr Cross and all your R4GV colleagues, this was not what I expected or hoped for. It is not what is right.

Is our planning system so far broken that we build billion-pound housing estates on valuable farmland and landscapes without valid reasons? If yes, then change is needed.

The landowners and builders may be happy but concerned residents like me are not, and we are the ones that vote. Role on 2023.

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