Fringe Box



Letter: My Advice on Local Plan Review – Risk It

Published on: 31 May, 2021
Updated on: 31 May, 2021

From: David Roberts

In response to: Our Local Plan Review Is Bound By Government Rules

Mediocre politicians will always find reasons for doing nothing, and this is not the first time Cllr Harwood has tried to make us worry by suggesting that a review of the Local Plan could produce higher, rather than lower, housing numbers.

My response to this is: risk it. Successful or not, he’ll emerge covered in glory as the man who tried. And if he fails, the Plan is even more likely than it is now to end up in that special graveyard reserved for ill-conceived strategies that can never be implemented.

I would not fancy his chances at judicial review, however, were it found that he had knowingly based a borough’s entire future on false or overtaken data. That is surely the very definition of “irrational and perverse” maladministration.

It is dispiriting is to see the Lib Dems run up the white flag even before battle has commenced. If they and some of their coalition allies are hoping for a quiet life from residents over this, they have badly miscalculated.

In trying to manage expectations, it seems Cllr Harwood has already become a prisoner of the process, a victim of regulatory capture by forces of inertia that, admittedly, are formidable.

An example is his bizarre view that it is impossible to change green belt boundaries. The National Planning Policy Framework is clear about this: what the Local Plan can take away, the Local Plan can give back.

But he is no friend of the countryside and would prefer to let our villages continue to be bulldozed so long as more can be done (as it should, of course) for housing in town.

No review will succeed unless local leaders give the bureaucrats a very strong political steer from the outset. This isn’t rocket science, as I set out only a fortnight ago (see: Changes to Flawed Local Plan Will Decide Guildford’s Destiny). But instead of a moment of destiny, Cllr Harwood sees only a moment of hand-wringing.

Developers and the Conservatives he despises will be smacking their lips at GBC’s defeatism.

Share This Post

Responses to Letter: My Advice on Local Plan Review – Risk It

  1. Jim Allen Reply

    May 31, 2021 at 8:31 pm

    Sadly, I have to disagree with Mr Roberts.

    The NPPF [National Planning Policy Framework] states that there should be a buffer between the urban area and the green belt and, in this case, both urban green belt removals represent that buffer. This also applies to the washed over and inset situation. There is no legal mechanism to return green belt status: the system has been stitched up, glued together and then welded.

    But as I keep saying, housing numbers are dependant on water supply. No water no housing. Those with the authority can keep determinedly putting their heads in the sand over this but they won’t find any water there either.

    Perhaps all those of us who object should join together and chant “Where is the water?” because if there is insufficient water then all the homes are phantom until that time. Within the next decade the reality of the water supply issue will kick in and the house numbers will have to crumble.

  2. John Perkins Reply

    June 1, 2021 at 9:27 am

    Well said Mr Roberts. The Conservatives and their allies were (and still are) adept at telling us why we should simply give in to their demands.

    Sometimes it’s more important to fight with no expectation of success than to surrender, if only to show there is an alternative.

  3. David Roberts Reply

    June 1, 2021 at 1:29 pm

    On Mr Allen’s point, NPPF paragraphs 135-139 make it clear that green belt boundaries can be changed, and even new green belts established, in exceptional circumstances, if councils propose strategic policies that meet certain criteria.

    It may not be easy, but the mechanism does exist.

Leave a Comment

Please see our comments policy. All comments are moderated and may take time to appear.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *