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Letter: Planning To Plan Review Of Local Plan Is Meaningless

Published on: 21 Apr, 2021
Updated on: 22 Apr, 2021

From: Ramsey Nagaty

Borough councillor for Shalford, leader of the Guildford Greenbelt Group
In response to: Why R4GV Needs Time To Prepare A Proper Review Of Flawed Local Plan and Councillors Clash In Confusion Trying To Debate Local Plan Review During Election Purdah

The debate on a Local Plan review has been long desired by GGG since it was adopted by the previous Conservative GBC administration during the purdah of the May 2019 borough elections. GGG were concerned the latest debate was being held during the purdah of the GBC by-elections and SCC elections.

Cllr Ramsey Nagaty

Many will feel the politicians have failed Guildford residents by failing to agree an immediate review of the Local Plan. So, there is still today no immediate review.

The full motion states the adopted Local Plan was based on brownfield sites and infrastructure first.

The brownfield study was produced only after GGG called for it because it had not been produced prior to the allocation of sites in the green belt or with the original evidence base. It goes on to say if infrastructure cannot be delivered then housing should not be built.

So why are sites taken out that cannot feasibly be developed now key infrastructure is clearly not forthcoming within the Plan period?

Rather, we see GBC seeking a fudge, to review the transport evidence base.

It goes on to say the review of the transport evidence base commenced in April 2020, yet nothing has been done other than to set a date for a meeting at the end of April 2021, one year later.

Those at the Executive Advisory Board Committee meeting in February 2020 where it was stated that development of a strategic site would proceed because even if the expected infrastructure was not available, other means to enable it would be found, will wonder how can we trust a transport evidence review?

The present evidence base is poor at best and out of date on several issues, including the lack of A3 improvements in the Plan period.

By the time a new evidence base is ready, the next borough election will have been held and the over-development of the borough key sites in the countryside and villages will have progressed and what was green belt will be lost forever.

Sadly, GBC delivered a Plan for excessive housing without getting the infrastructure investment, not just for the A3 but for local roads, the gyratory and all the other services required for an uplift in population and road use associated with the Local Plan.

If the money was not forthcoming to get the housing the government wants then what incentive will there be to provide funding in the future? More release of green belt and green field land?

Planning to review the Plan is meaningless and residents will rightfully feel let down. The time scale will take GBC beyond what it is legally required to have completed a review within five years of the adoption.

The government is drafting legislation for those authorities with a Local Plan to complete an update within 42 months.

Removal of reference to the A3 was proposed as GGG felt this could be circumnavigated. A few days before the debate, GGG reached out to R4GV to discuss a better amended motion. GGG look to co-operate wherever possible. We received no response.The motion as passed lacks strategic direction which should be defined by the elected borough councillors, not left to officers and consultants because it is it leaves too much in the hands of the GBC pro-development Planning Department, who worked on the dreaded Local Plan in the first place and with allegedly Independent consultants.

GGG proposed an “All-Party Task Group” to work on an immediate review. This in itself took a decision away from being considered political during purdah. It was met with deaf ears.

Clearly, R4GV and Lib Dems were following a pre-determined line. GGG realise R4GV were constrained by the Lib Dem position.

So, we are left with no timescale for review, but planning to plan for a possible, probable review which by law will have to happen anyway. But when?

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Responses to Letter: Planning To Plan Review Of Local Plan Is Meaningless

  1. Colin Cross Reply

    April 23, 2021 at 1:17 am

    Many thanks Ramsey Nagaty, for his comprehensive review of the current Guildford political scene.

    Much as I agree with the majority of his remarks, particularly the perverse choice made by the Greens to stand against them in Shere, I do differ as to where our two proposals were leading GBC in terms of a Local Plan review.

    A review has to revisit each and every element of the original plan, thereby choosing to either “stick or twist” on each and every single policy, then it has the full Planning Inspector forensic investigation to follow.

    Just putting the A3 related traffic problems forward as a reason to lower housing targets is a non-starter. If only it were that easy!

    Let’s be clear, a Tory central government dictated the above review rules so as to maximise the difficulty and time expended on the exercise but then made it compulsory,

    How can that be rationalised? Anyway, the GGG approach to a review is dead in the water from the start as they did not do their homework.

    Colin Cross is the R4GV candidate for The Horsleys in the forthcoming SCC election.

    • Ben Paton Reply

      April 30, 2021 at 7:54 am

      What exactly has R4GV done since the election to carry out a review?

      Sucked its teeth and whinged about how difficult it is?

      The European Commission would have acted faster.

      R4GV’s approach to a review is dead in the water because there’s no evidence it has done anything.

  2. Peter Elliott Reply

    April 24, 2021 at 10:15 am

    It is very disappointing that the two major parties appear to be dragging their feet with regard to reviewing the Local Plan. I can’t help wondering what they think was the reason the Conservatives were so heavily defeated at the last election, if it wasn’t because people were so unhappy about their Plan.

    If nothing has been done about this, come the next election, might they not suffer a similar fate themselves?

  3. Mike Hurdle Reply

    April 29, 2021 at 11:42 am

    Colin Cross (April 23rd) says that: “Just putting the A3 related traffic problems forward as a reason to lower housing targets is a non-starter.”

    I was a GGG councillor from 2015-19 and spoke many times about road problems. I was repeatedly assured that the Local Plan was contingent on the infrastructure being delivered. Had it been clear at the time that it would go ahead anyway without the required roads etc, I am sure that many more councillors would have voted against the Plan.

    In a rational world – or even a democratic one – the vote would be held again.

    • Paul Spooner Reply

      April 29, 2021 at 4:47 pm

      I agree completely with former Cllr Hurdle. Infrastructure was a commitment we made and to ignore it now is a failure to understand the process that was agreed that enabled adoption of the Local Plan in April 2019.

      Paul Spooner is a Conservative borough councillor for Ash South & Tongham.

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