Fringe Box



Letter: ‘O, What a Tangled Web We Weave…’

Published on: 22 Mar, 2024
Updated on: 22 Mar, 2024

Angela Richardson posing her question to the Prime Minister BBC Parliament

From: John Rigg

former lead R4GV councillor for Regeneration

In response to: Guildford’s MP Raises the Issue of Unpopular Housing Developments at PMQs

Walter Scott said: “O, what a tangled web we weave when first we practise to deceive!”

In the final weeks of the Tory administration of 2019 they were determined to push through, even exceed, central government housing targets by taking away green belt protection of the villages and approving large allocations in green belt in the borough while failing to address plaaning the town itself.

But in Angela Richardson’s defence the planning system is very complex and the Local Plan and the policies and evidence base is not put together by elected representatives but by professional officers.

What they did, and worse still, did not do, was crystal clear from about 2015 onwards. The 2019 local plan shortcomings were highlighted time and again by the Guildford Vision Group (GVG), the Guildford Greenbelt Group (GGG) and then, after its formation, Residents for Guildford & Villages (R4GV). Solum’s “Great Wall of Guildford” at the railway station and the North Street space allocations provide supporting evidence.

Both the Conservatives, and some Lib Dems pushed through this damaging Local Plan. It made no effort to resolve flooding , deliver quality regeneration on brownfield sites, let alone a visionary Masterplan despite the council being offered two.

The proposed Local Plan update I currently expect to be hugely delayed, as normal at GBC, the players in the “GBC Orchestra” individually writing the music and playing a tune they choose, at a time and tempo they decide while the conductor is fearful of picking up the baton.

Ironically, after the General Election, if Labour are returned to power as expected, we are likely to face even higher housing targets. Without an urgent update to free up perhaps 90 sites in the borough from flooding it will be mostly on green belt or in the other villages which escaped in 2019.

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Responses to Letter: ‘O, What a Tangled Web We Weave…’

  1. Bibhas Neogi Reply

    March 22, 2024 at 11:08 am

    Guildford’s flooding issues need a bold approach. Some of the upstream flood plains could be converted into reservoirs ready to take in water away from the river in times of heavy rain and discharge back to the river when conditions allow.

    No doubt it would be a major project but I believe there is opportunity for investors to develop these reservoirs and surrounding areas for leisure bringing in much revenue for the operation of the flood control measures.

    In addition to flood barriers along the stretch through the town, effective control would enable the development of much needed housing on these 90 sites.

  2. Jim Allen Reply

    March 22, 2024 at 6:21 pm

    In respect of upstream flood control looking at old maps the flood control system is fully in place it just needs refurbishing and understanding how it was intended to work!

    The oldies had no computers to work out what was needed but the sluices are in place as are the ditches (albeit it unmaintained) as are the banks of puddled clay. They had “water meadows” which slowed the water flow through the town at times of high rainfall.

    Find the oldest waterman alive and ask him to explain.

    • Bibhas Neogi Reply

      March 23, 2024 at 7:04 pm

      Good advice from Jim Allen but technology has progressed a lot and we have the means of machine power to dig and use monitoring systems to manage and control flooding much better than before.

      Preserving flood plains and maintaining environmental diversity is important but a few reservoirs sympathetically created in conjunction with gardens and other leisure facilities could make such a scheme financially viable.

      So far the approach by consultants is to contain the flooding by raising barriers through the town centre and digging out upstream flood plain areas to a certain depth to store flood water but not creating deeper reservoirs. Please see the report in:

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