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Letter: The Local Plan – We Must All Stop Shouting At Each Other

Published on: 2 Oct, 2013
Updated on: 2 Oct, 2013

Local Plan Letters imageFrom Fiona White,

County Councillor for Guildford West (former Chairman of Ash Parish Council)

I went to the extraordinary Borough Council meeting which has been reported and commented on widely in The Guildford Dragon. What I saw and heard at the meeting has made me very worried that people living in Guildford are not aware that our Local Plan, dated 2003, is very outdated and does not offer protection to communities against planning applications in the way it used it.

The council was told some years ago, under the previous Labour Government, that a new development framework had to be drawn up and that they should start working on it. The council’s Conservative administration failed to do the necessary work which means that there is little protection for the whole borough.

There is a serious danger of ‘planning by appeal’, with the unelected Planning Inspectorate approving planning proposals that our elected councillors refuse.

Cllr Fiona White

Cllr Fiona White

The national government have made it clear that councils must have an up-to-date plan which clearly shows a five-year land supply. The Conservatives who spoke against that must recognise that they are the major party in a coalition government.

They should also understand that the way planning applications are decided is laid down by government legislation which cannot be overridden by local authorities. Most councillors on the planning committee have already received training in the implications of the Government’s new planning policy, the NPPF [National Planning Policy Framework], and I understand that other councillors were given planning training before the meeting on 24th September. It seems that some of them were not listening to the training or simply decided to ignore it.

Guildford Borough has to draw up a new Local Plan and a consultation process is starting now so that residents have a chance to comment on how land should be used; for business, for housing or for leisure.

What we all have to remember is that we will have to find land to build between several thousand new places for people live over the next 15 years as part of that process (the exact number of new homes required has yet to be decided). This is so that our children and their children will have somewhere to live and I hope that younger people all over the borough will make their views heard as well.

The only way that we can find the land for the new businesses and the homes without destroying open spaces for some communities altogether is for the development to be spread across the whole of Guildford, including the village settlements and the urban areas of Ash and Tongham as well as Guildford Town.

There is no point in any community, village or urban, pulling up their drawbridges and saying no to everything. The best option is to be reasonable and constructively consider proportionate housing proposals which may bring with them significant improvements in infrastructure, including school places, highways and public transport, health facilities, community buildings and a myriad of other things that come along as part of planning gain.

So I suggest we all stop shouting at one another and try to find the best solution of how to protect the quality of life and still giving people a decent home in which to live.

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test One Response to Letter: The Local Plan – We Must All Stop Shouting At Each Other

  1. Bernard Parke Reply

    October 1, 2013 at 7:28 pm

    I thoroughly endorse County Councillor White’s sentiment expressed in her letter.

    However it will be a herculean task to overcome the “Not in My Back Yard” attitude that rules supreme within the wards of our borough.

    But failure to do so will be a disaster for every one.

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