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Letter: Pleased To See GBC MD’s Response But Here Are My Questions

Published on: 18 Dec, 2013
Updated on: 18 Dec, 2013

epetitionFrom Neville Bryan
Wood Street Village

I am delighted to see Sue Sturgeon, the managing director at Guildford Borough Council (GBC) respond on behalf of the council to the e-petition brought forward by Alice and Helen Jefferies, and would pause to reflect my admiration to both for their forthright presentation to GBC and the GBC decision to podcast the debate.

Never have I found local politics so interesting. Long may this continue.

In regard to her response, I would also fully support he need for a local plan. This aspect of the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) is clear and a positive step. I also applaud her statement to review all options on brown field sites, only noting to say that I expect this to be much more than just words.

The nature of her clarifications however would lead me to ask the following:

1. How is your stated need for housing (particularly single people housing) consistent with the decision taken recently to approve the University Veterinary College? It is on a site which could, and in my view should, have been used for student accommodation. The student population creates a massive demand for local housing (measured in many thousands), which if removed could easily solve completely the volume housing problems you state, and in addition, ease the first time buyer housing availability so many refer too.

Approval of these new university facilities, and other previous decisions on the university campus (car parks, surrey sports center etc), without having sufficient accommodation residences in place first, appears to be encouraging the case for unnecessary green belt destruction, and is totally contradictory to the stated “moral duty”.

Three subsidiary question to this following Mr Burch’s eloquent opinion column Will New Vet School Slow Down Accommodation Construction? in The Guildford Dragon, with which I totally agree, are:

  • If the university used its land appropriately and in line with your “moral duty”, would there be a significant need at all?
  • How will this situation this situation be reflected in the revised Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA)?
  • How will GBC and our elected GBC representatives hold the university to account on student campus accommodation before approving these prestigious schemes?

2. Re. the new SHMA and the housing number, I would also echo the sentiments of Alice and Helen Jefferies, that demand and need are not the same. There will always be demand as Londoners will create that demand.  It is not something which will ever go away, and not be used to drive up the needed number. Why is this not fully accounted for in the evidence base document? We will watch developments with interest.

3. Yes, house prices in the Guildford and surrounding area are expensive. I like many readers stretched myself to buy one, so I am very keen to know how you going to make houses “affordable”. Are you planning to reduce house prices through increased supply and expose us all too negative equity, or are you give away something to enable first time buyers and creating a housing bubble?

As somebody who struggled to pay the mortgage in my first years of house ownership, both options have serious downsides, which are not being recognised in your statement on “affordable”. Basic economics say somebody has to pay. I would like to see much more detail on these proposals before we go much further in this process.

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test One Response to Letter: Pleased To See GBC MD’s Response But Here Are My Questions

  1. Malcolm Morrison Reply

    December 18, 2013 at 9:36 pm

    As an outsider, living abroad, I watch these developments and note with interest the struggle to meet the demands of a government blindly moving forward against the needs of residents and long held policies related to green belt and local planning regulations.

    I am not sure what the end result will be but I predict it will be a mess based on the usual British way of compromise that ultimately satisfies no one and just adds tape and additional time to any process.

    Why not a more radical approach or just refuse and keep the status quo?

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