Fringe Box



Letter: Planning Inspector Will See CPRE’s Comments, Along With All Others

Published on: 29 Jul, 2016
Updated on: 29 Jul, 2016

GBc v CPRE From Paul Spooner

Leader of Guildford Borough Council, lead councillor for planning and Conservative ward councillor for Ash South & Tongham

In response the the article: CPRE Brands Guildford’s Draft Local Plan as ‘Unrealistic’ and ‘Over-ambitious’, the new Local Plan addresses needs across the whole borough such as retaining and creating jobs, transport and infrastructure requirements, educating future generations and protecting our culture, heritage and countryside.

We welcome the responses made during the recent consultation and all submitted comments will be shared with the independent planning inspector.

Our borough faces a housing crisis if the need for more suitable homes is not tackled soon. We must face these facts and the draft Local Plan addresses the situation in realistic and sustainable ways to reflect this shortfall.

Any alternative housing models must also address this crisis otherwise lower-paid people, including essential workers, will still not be able to afford to live here. We must balance the needs of everyone who lives or works in our town, villages and countryside, not just a minority.

Proposed development is already being directed at making better use of land that has already been built on, under a brownfield first preference.  With 89% of the borough within the green belt, this means just 1.6% of greenfield land will be taken from the green belt and allocated for development.

We are preparing the new Local Plan according to relevant national policy and any proposed development sites will still need planning permission, along with public consultation.

Following the Brexit vote, and the publication of the new 2014-based population and household projections, we will revisit both the Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) and the Employment Land Needs Assessment (ELNA) before submitting the Local Plan to the Secretary of State. This will ensure the evidence underpinning the Plan is robust, up-to-date and accurate.

We are also working with partners to significantly improve local infrastructure and they must all complete their agreed projects for us to deliver the new Local Plan in full. We feel that is a balanced and pragmatic approach and the right way to enable communities and our economy to thrive, as well as protect our borough.

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Responses to Letter: Planning Inspector Will See CPRE’s Comments, Along With All Others

  1. Jules Cranwell Reply

    July 29, 2016 at 9:42 pm

    I’m tired of this misleading spin from the council and Cllr Spooner on the green belt. It is not 1.6% of the green belt being sacrifced. Including all the green belt villages being removed from green belt status it is more than 8%.

    In some cases, such as West Horsley and Ockham, they will be losing near on 100% of their green belt, whilst in Mr. Spoonmer’s manor, Ash, they propose to add green belt. Is this fair and equitable? I say emphatically no it is not.

    Yes, they welcome the responses from those interested in the draft Local Plan, but only so they can ignore them all, just like last time.

    Will they please stop treating the electorate like idiots?

  2. Jim Allen Reply

    July 30, 2016 at 12:20 am

    I suggested before brexit that the councillors delayed voting on the SHMA until after 23rd June, the referendum day. Sadly they failed to take any notice and now they have to do it all again.

    I don’t claim to be a soothsayer but I do think the council should listen to the experts in the community when it comes to decision making.

  3. A Atkinson Reply

    July 30, 2016 at 12:20 am

    Reading “Cllr Spooner’s” response to the CPRE letter and consultation submission it seems to me that it was clearly written by a “PR” type; dry and continuing to spout the same old communication key messages as before.

    It did not go into the arguments again, such as this plan is not balanced and not doing anything really to help key, low paid workers affected by this housing crisis. Bringing more people to the borough by oversupply of houses is not going to solve it either.

    That aside, what is clear to me is that the council will plough on regardless of what the borough residents think. They will be ignored for the second time, the plan will not be changed the council intends to submit it to the planning inspector as is. Cllr Spooner says the council will revisit the SHMA. But how? Ask again the consultant company GL Hearn, with its interests in development, to do the numbers in secret again, only for them to come up with another inflated housing figure?

    There is nothing in the statement from “Cllr Spooner” which suggests that the consultations will be considered by the council to amend the plan accordingly. It is clear that the council will only submit all consultation responses to the planning inspector as per regulation 19 rules and not take them into consideration in a review of the draft Local Plan before it is submitted.

    Moreover, the majority of the council spoke to submit the plan for consultation on the basis that it was vital the public had the chance to shape the plan as they thought. Clearly this is not the case, perhaps this councillors knew all along that the consultation would be ignored and pushed through as is.

    It’s about time more of them stood up for democracy and due process rather than for an unmandated excessive growth strategy at all costs being peddled by the council Executive and civil servants.

  4. David Roberts Reply

    July 30, 2016 at 12:36 am

    The “just 1.6%” of green belt which Cllr Spooner wants to destroy is actually 7% when you take into account the insetting and settlement boundary extensions proposed in his miserable draft plan. And 7% will soon become 10 or 12% if the plan is approved: piggybacking on the plan, there are already live planning applications to destroy green fields beyond the sites targeted in the plan itself (e.g. 16/P/01459).

    The notion of a minimum “acceptable” percentage of green belt that should be sacrificed to property developers is morally bankrupt and unjustified by any policy, national or local. No such percentage appears in the National Planning Policy Framework or anywhere else. It is like arguing that we should sell off 1.6% of the Crown Jewels in order to pay for houses.

  5. Ben Paton Reply

    July 30, 2016 at 8:30 am

    As trailed in the Surrey Advertiser, the council is now going to “revisit” the Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) [first reported here, I believe, in the article: Opinion: Planning – The Bad, The Uncertain and The Good. Ed.] .

    Isn’t “revisit” just another mealy mouthed euphemism for altering the figures or changing the evidence? If the police took this cavalier attitude to submitting evidence for a public inquiry and statutory review by a planning inspector imagine the protest they would encounter. But for the council moving the goal posts after a public consultation is just business as usual.

    “Revisits” don’t cut the mustard. The SHMA was based on a demographic housing model that none of Guildford, Waverley or Woking councils have even seen let alone scrutinised. “Revisiting” the empty filing cabinet where there is no model sounds like a concession but is in fact just another cover up.

    In Guildford we have Tony Blair style propaganda without the sugaring of his charisma.

  6. John Robson Reply

    July 30, 2016 at 8:46 am

    Good to see the leader of the council has found the time to grace this “muck raking anti-establishment blog” with his espoused values.

    But isn’t it rather disingenuous of one of Guildford’s lead establishment figures to continue to mislead the electorate over how much green belt his council intends to open up for house building by developers. As widely known, some property developers contribute to Tory funds.

    The old 1.6% of greenfield chestnut? Say it enough times and people will believe it.

    Finally, how can the leader of the council preside over a Local Plan that advocates demolition of the green belt adjacent to Guidlford’s urban area, yet will extend Guidlford’s “89% green belt” in his own ward.

    Isn’t this a conflict of interest?

  7. Lisa Wright Reply

    July 30, 2016 at 6:20 pm

    We should stop harping on about 89% Greenbelt. Of that 89%, half is classified AONB which is strictly out of the equation for house building.

    So, roughly only 45% of land in the borough is purely green belt, making GBC development proposals equal to around 3% of land that would be lost. But when inset villages and other development is included it quickly jumps to 15-20%, depending whose figures you accept.

    20% is a massive increase from the 1.6% advertised.

    It’s amazing what you can do with maths.

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