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Letter: Poorly Calculated Population Figures Boosted the Housing Target

Published on: 16 Jul, 2021
Updated on: 16 Jul, 2021

From: Ramsey Nagaty

leader of the Guildford Greenbelt Group and a borough councillor for Shalford

In response to: Council Leader and Guildford’s MP Urge Action on Population Data

As one of those involved in submissions to the OSR (Office for Statistics Regulation) that resulted in their report highlighting that the OAN (Objectively Assessed Need) figures for Guildford were excessive and wrong, I welcome the involvement of our MP Angela Richardson and the earlier actions by GBC leader Joss Bigmore and MD James Whiteman in registering Guildford’s interest.

The University of Surrey has brought many benefits to Guildford however the huge increase in student numbers over the last ten years with some 40 per cent coming from overseas has resulted in many more affordable homes being lost to accommodation for students, so increasing housing need.

But that is not the only consequence, the “objective” assessment for need classified them as those requiring housing within five years despite the fact that most return to their home countries or home towns within the UK.

The Office of National Statistics said their figures were generated such that they were a starting point and local authorities should apply adjustments according to their local circumstances.

The 2019 Local Plan had limited adjustments which did not reflect the full extent of the problem nor were constraints for infrastructure, flooding and green belt applied, resulting in the high housing figure we are expected to deliver and the loss of green belt.

The sooner the Local Plan is reviewed and changed the better for the future of Guildford.

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