Fringe Box



Letter: Those Who Only Object To Developments In Their Own Areas Are Nimbys

Published on: 6 Jan, 2017
Updated on: 6 Jan, 2017

From David Smith

In response to Ben Paton’s letter: Residents Are Right to Stand Up for Their Local Area

A person who objects to the siting of something perceived as unpleasant or hazardous in their own neighbourhood, often whilst raising no such objections to similar developments elsewhere is defined as a Nimby. Generally an accepted term and not abuse.

Have the people in the affected area objected or fought to protect other areas of the town where similar proposals were put forward? It will be quite easy to find out, as every objection is logged on GBC website. If they haven’t, I was probably right in my description.

Objecting to development on this basis is perfectly understandable and to be expected. My point however was that the answer cannot be ‘no’ to every single development proposal in the borough (which it currently seems to be). You will never be able to please everybody.

I am not sure what the wrong or right answer is for the cathedral site but what I have said is that the quality of our town and environment is being eroded by piecemeal development which does little to enhance or integrate with the existing urban grain.

I highlighted the wide leafy avenues off the Epsom Road where Victorian and Edwardian houses are being pulled down to make way for multiple units. This is destroying the whole character of the area and could be avoided by releasing sensible sites on the fringes of the town like Gosden Hill, the University of Surrey and Wisley which are more capable of satisfying the housing need.

This will limit smaller sites like the cathedral coming forward.

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Responses to Letter: Those Who Only Object To Developments In Their Own Areas Are Nimbys

  1. Ben Paton Reply

    January 6, 2017 at 7:42 pm

    ‘…this will limit smaller sites like the cathedral coming forward.’


    Is there any planning argument, regulation, law or fact which supports this statement?

  2. Jim Allen Reply

    January 6, 2017 at 8:11 pm

    “A person who objects to the siting of something perceived as unpleasant or hazardous in their own neighbourhood, often whilst raising no such objections to similar developments elsewhere.”

    I am not sure just how far reaching a person should complain about. When the insulting term “Nimby” was first used it implied that people were objecting in their neighbourhood when in fact they were not. They were objecting on grounds of destruction of the countryside, insufficient infrastructure and the lack of actual need (in the 1980s) when profit was king and “homes” were not on the list of considerations.

    But what did happen in the 1980s, when a project like the Guildford Bypass was built, was the need for additional on and off slip roads. For example on the A320; the planning inspectors made clear it was needed, as was deemed a requirement for a four way north of Burpham should Gosden Hill fall to housing. But the planners of Guildford Borough Council (GBC) consider it’s not required even though traffic has exploded since the 80s and the GBC Local Plan would add some 20,000 plus vehicles to the daily mix along with the associated air pollution and lack of water supplies.

    So if something is considered unpleasant or hazardous they seem remove these factors as a consideration.

    We need to get very rational. It is not the people who are objecting locally who are causing the perceived problem. Would you expect GBC take any notice if the objection came from Australia or Canada? Of course not. So we must accept there is a limit to anyone’s geographic radius of attention. We must all object constructively and express our concerns as one voice. Air pollution, lack of water, lack of electricity, roads at capacity, lack of water treatment are all crucial factors that should be considered.

    There is no point in screaming for more houses if the occupants die of thirst and hypothermia, with no power for heat, while choking on air pollution. Just look at China.

  3. Nick Norton Reply

    January 6, 2017 at 8:49 pm

    Mr Smith’s comment is misleading. A local authority planning (LPA) department is not obliged to notify residents directly of the whole borough of all planning applications everywhere.

    In my experience, as an former parish councillor, most residents are interested only in planning applications within their immediate vicinity, when notified in writing by the local authority, and mostly uninterested in those that are not, even those in the Guildford Local Plan.

    When a proposal is significant enough to engage more than immediate neighbours, however, many letters are written to the LPA. The ultimate decision is in the hands of the case officer and their seniors, subject to extant council planning policies, planning legislation, government guidance, and the council planning committee. Residents have little enough power in these situations and a capacity to express their perceived group self-interest is de minimis.

    Those residents in older villages of a few hundred houses who find the prospect of having their community swamped by the imposition of thousands of standard modern houses, from the design studios of the major housebuilders, unacceptable are not NIMBYs. Replacing a few multi-room Victorian and Edwardian “piles” previously occupied by a few older residents with modern high-density, uniquely designed, apartment blocks is small beer in comparison.

    Perhaps Mr Smith would like to visit the planning department of Guildford Borough Council and attempt to impose his opinion of what an area’s “character” should be and how to control the local market in building land on the hard-pressed planning officers?

  4. David Roberts Reply

    January 7, 2017 at 9:57 am

    I disagree.

    How ever you look at it, being called a “Nimby” is insulting. The abbreviation imparts a false jocularity to a serious matter: the denigration of ordinary, powerless people against vested property interests and their local political cronies.

    What are Mr Smith’s interests in this matter? Whatever happened to being public spirited?

  5. Dave Middleton Reply

    January 7, 2017 at 12:55 pm

    As far as I’m concerned and contrary to Mr Smith’s assertion, Nimby is indeed a derogatory and abusive term.

    If anyone were to refer to me as a Nimby to my face, they would be on the receiving end of some sharp words.

  6. David Pillinger Reply

    January 13, 2017 at 3:39 pm

    I tend to agree that there is far too much Nimbyism in this country. If it had existed in days gone by, there wouldn’t be a supermarket, petrol station or office block in the country.

    Today Nimbyism is tending too kill off construction; that’s why we have a housing shortage. I have four children so someone needs to add a net further two houses to the housing stock please.

    • John Perkins Reply

      January 16, 2017 at 1:00 pm

      In reply to David Pillinger:

      It’s surely too much to claim that Nimbyism tends to kill off construction. Delay seems much nearer the mark.

      As for a need to add to the net housing stock, there is plenty of room in Poland, and Spain has a huge number of empty homes.

      • David Pillinger Reply

        January 16, 2017 at 9:27 pm

        To answer Mr Perkins, houses in Madrid or Warsaw are not very useful if you work in Guildford.

        I don’t know much about Warsaw, but Madrid and Barcelona, where I hang out a lot, are as tight a market as Guildford. I often stay in central Barcelona in a local friend’s two bed flat he rents for €5,000 a month. Ouch! Need to build more there too, by the sounds of it.

        Not so affected by nimbyism, the planning system there though, from what I understand.

        • John Perkins Reply

          January 17, 2017 at 4:38 pm

          Warsaw and Madrid are both capital cities and all three places are huge when compared to Guildford, so the comparison is not really helpful.

          Does anybody have a right to demand to be allowed to live in any particular place?

          Is there a pejorative acronym applicable to such people?

        • Ben Paton Reply

          January 19, 2017 at 2:21 pm

          Mr Pillinger might like to consider these statements from Wikipedia: “According to the reports of the Bank of Spain, between 1976 and 2003, the price of housing in Spain has doubled in real terms, which means, in nominal terms, a multiplication by 16. In the period of 1997—2006, the price of housing in Spain had risen about 150% in nominal terms, equivalent to 100% growth in real terms.

          It is stated that from 2000 to 2009, 5 million new housing units had been added to the existing stock of 20 million.[18] In 2008, the real estate market started to drop fast, and house prices decreased dramatically by 8% in that year.[19] In the period of 2007-2013, Spanish house prices had fallen by 37%.[20] Each year almost a million homes were built in Spain, more than in Germany, France, and England altogether.[21]”

          In 2011 there were over 687,000 empty houses in Spain.

          Mr Pillinger proposes that house prices are driven by new house building. The causation is in fact the other way around. The credit cycle drives house prices which in turn stimulates house building. Governments do not need to stimulate house building when house prices are high. The prices are sufficient incentive for profit-motivated house-builders. But of course there’s less money in building social housing – so the private sector does not build it.

          In Spain 60% of people live in flats. In the UK and Ireland 85-95% of people live in detached and semi-detached houses.

  7. Valerie Thompson Reply

    January 14, 2017 at 5:40 pm

    What most people are objecting to, in the Borough of Guildford, is the intention of the council to remove large areas of green belt and impose vast numbers of houses in small villages, with no thought to improved infrastructure.

    That is not Nimbyism; it is having consideration for the residents of the borough in the future, who will weep over their lost, rural environment when they consider what could have been built on brownfield sites in areas where people would have less need for cars if they work locally.

    Unfortunately, what is planned are vast developments with intensive density, many on sensitive sites.

    I will certainly fight to keep my own area the pleasant village I came to 40 years ago, and which other people want to live in. And I will constantly object to the council’s declared intention to add a quarter more houses than are here at present.

    I will also fight, with letters and objections, to their plans for all the other areas they intend to despoil.

    It is the principle of the issue of the destruction of green belt that needs objectors, who are not Nimbys but concerned residents.

  8. Gordon Adam Reply

    January 17, 2017 at 10:13 am

    I agree that “nimby” is a derogatory term and should not be used. However, objectors to any planning application must set out their objections to cover impact, look, design etc which is covered by planning. This is the only way for the term “nimby” to stop being used.

    • Jules Cranwell Reply

      January 18, 2017 at 9:53 pm

      If Gordon Adam was to read some of the over 20,000 objections to the draft Local Plan, he would see that it is precisely those aspects which are the basis of objections, as well as the unproven need for the volume of housing proposed, the refusal of the council to release the model used for the calculation of housing “need”, and the inappropriateness of such massive developments on protected green belt and AONB land.

      I’ve seen no objections on the basis that developments are in anyone’s back yard.

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