Fringe Box



Letter: Realistic Housing Figure Is Needed

Published on: 14 Jun, 2014
Updated on: 14 Jun, 2014

From Fiona Curtis

The Localism Bill, which was introduced in 2011, is designed to give local communities more control over housing rather than having figures imposed upon them.

It is therefore alarming to read in last week’s Surrey Advertiser, a report of the leader of Guildford Borough Council, Cllr. Stephen Mansbridge, challenging those who have expressed an opposing opinion with ‘be careful what you wish for’ and stating that any hold ups could result in the current high figure of 13,000+ new homes increasing to 20,000.

Local Plan Consultation logoWhat is the basis of this argument and indeed the figure of 20,000 homes? Has this been plucked from the sky to undermine the efforts of those that do not agree with the current figure or is there some justification for it? I fail to understand how any government could accept planning by appeal on this scale in an area that has a high level of greenbelt and hence, a high level of protection.

Our MP recently provided me with this information, ‘Accusations of planning by appeal are unfounded. The vast majority of decisions are decided locally. Just 3% of major housing decisions are overturned at appeal: lower now than prior to the introduction of the framework (2011 – 4%; 2013 – 3%)’. So let us remain grounded, assess a need that is realistic, without cherry picking the highest option and please let’s correct the errors, which have been proven, and yet, despite agreement to amend, remain in place, giving rise to this questionable housing figure, which is significantly higher than those of surrounding boroughs.

As a parish councillor, it has been my task to disseminate information in a format that is ‘user friendly’ and I am grateful to the many groups for the incredible amount of work that they have carried out to help us all. These include; resident’s groups, The Guildford Society, Guildford Greenbelt Group, Guildford Residents’ Group, Guildford Vision Group and campaign groups.

Cllr Mansbridge’s comment is in direct conflict with comments from central Government, but if true, confirms that the new national planning policy framework, which was developed under the current coalition, is akin to a game of Monopoly where developers hold the dice and anyone who disagrees, better have a get out of jail card!

A realistic housing figure would lead the way to a positive, cohesive approach by all. I truly hope we achieve this as soon as possible as the Allies & Morrison vision for the town looks promising, but let this not be at the detriment of the countryside, which is, after all, part of Guildford Borough.

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