Fringe Box



Letter: More Delay But Little Change on Local Plan

Published on: 2 Sep, 2015
Updated on: 2 Sep, 2015

Local Plan Consultation logoFrom Tony Edwards

The message was very clear over a year ago when an avalanche of more than 20,000 response comments [from over 7,000 respondents]  to the Draft Local Plan descended on Guildford Borough Council’s Millmead offices – overwhelmingly negative and critical of proposals to build on the green belt.

The message from the people of Guildford  was apparently received – loud and clear;  Cllr Stephen Mansbridge said so on September 24th last year when he declared that GBC now needed “more time to take a proper account of responses”.

Many, myself included, thought it was perhaps significant that he’d scheduled the postponement until after the May election this year, but there were specific references to the green belt when he further assured us that “we plan to put forward the strongest possible case for ensuring that we protect our beautiful countryside”, so we gave him the benefit of lingering doubts.

Now, we learn that there’s to be a further delay – until June-July next year.  But the underlying message appears to be that nothing much has changed – or is likely to change – as the proposal is to move forward with a ‘Regulation 19’ Local Plan which means this will most certainly not be a new plan at all – merely a re-vamp of the previous offering which was so roundly criticised by Guildford residents.

In his press statement this week, Cllr Mansbridge talked about progress and made various references to traffic congestion and balancing “social, economic and environmental interests” but, significantly, failed to confirm one of the fundamental local issues – just how many houses he believes Guildford needs to build, or could accept, in the coming years.

So the Local Plan process is attempting to provide an answer before any of us has established the question.  And that doesn’t sound like the “progress” to which Cllr Mansbridge referred; quite the opposite.

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