Fringe Box



Letter: You Are Right, Brownfield Must Come First

Published on: 27 Nov, 2013
Updated on: 27 Nov, 2013

Guildford Plaza & Brownfield letterFrom Susan Parker

The “Brownfield Must Come First” opinion piece is a good article and well researched. Well done the Guildford Dragon NEWS.

As Martin Giles says, it is important that the law is changed so that there are mechanisms for ensuring that brownfield land, especially derelict land like the Plaza/Portsmouth Road site, can be brought into use rapidly. It would be good if central government appreciated this need so that the right laws could be structured soon, including urgently needed revision of the hated National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF). Ultimately, responsibility for this rests with the government.

If the government do not change the law, and soon, they will pay at the ballot box. The current pressure to develop the Green Belt is unacceptable.  There are provisions within the NPPF, and its associated guidance, that are designed to be a developers’ charter, irrespective of the damage that is done by development.

They might like to remember that Guildford is a marginal constituency.  There are other marginal constituencies in other areas of Green Belt. These issues are not going to go away and the government has to understand that it is its own supporters that are angry.

Government, in the end, will need to change these laws to give better protection for the parts of the country and countryside that we all value.  Homes are needed, but so is urban regeneration.

And I agree that we shouldn’t just blame the borough council. But our councillors need to remember that they are primarily our representatives, not the representatives of the parties to which they belong.  They do each need to take personal responsibility for much more careful scrutiny of proposals and focus on the brownfield sites within the borough: both those already targeted and a raft of others that they haven’t managed to identify.

There is a quite a lot of careless work, it seems to me, in the GBC studies, and the councillors don’t seem to be challenging the sums prepared by the planning department.   We have heard too much of the mantra of “we have to build on the Green Belt” without any justification.

For example, the studies include analysis of 4.5 hectares at Merrow Depot, which GBC are projecting will give rise to just 50 houses, at a density of 11 homes per hectare. The same proportions (4.5 hectares and 50 houses at a density of 11 homes per hectare) are projected for Walnut Tree Close.  Density at the proposed 40 hectares of the Slyfield site (not the industrial site, that is separate) is proposed at 24 homes per hectare. (These numbers are from the SHLAA – the Strategy Homes Land Availability Assessment published by GBC).  Given that Notting Hill, with its Georgian terraces and squares, has a density of 100 homes per hectare (almost 10 times as much) the planners need to go back to the drawing board.

As Martin Giles and others have said we should not build on any green field sites until all the brownfield land has been used.  And we need to use that brownfield land carefully.

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Responses to Letter: You Are Right, Brownfield Must Come First

  1. Janette Panton Reply

    November 27, 2013 at 1:09 pm

    I too would like to congratulate the Guildford Dragon NEWS on their coverage of the green belt development issue.

    I agree totally with Susan Parker. Both our MPs and borough councillors do certainly need to remember they are elected and represent their constituents. It is high time they stood up and fought for what the majority of their constituents want, and that is to preserve green belt land. The Guildford Dragon poll alone shows this to be the case. Let alone the protests and many letters of objection.

    I am sure the Conservatives will suffer badly at the polls in the next general election if they continue to support this desecration of our countryside, and quite rightly. It is an unacceptable situation.

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