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Letter: The Council’s Failure to Build More Council Houses is a Tragedy

Published on: 17 Jan, 2022
Updated on: 19 Jan, 2022

From: Philip Brooker

former lead borough councillor for Housing and Homelessness

I write in support of the sentiments outlined in Mr Smith’s letter The Liberal Democrats Have Failed Us On Social Housing, with one caveat – their coalition partners, Residents for Guildford and the Villages (R4GV) cannot escape their share of the responsibility for this debacle which will have such profound consequences for the thousands of residents on the social housing waiting list.

The tragedy is that the previous Conservative administration, of which I was the lead member for Housing, had identified at least 10 potential council-owned brownfield sites on which social housing could be built.

One, for the land now used as Guildford Park Car Park, had received planning permission and now appears to have been scrapped. At least two others were in the early stages of design. On these, and the remaining sites, we had identified potential for several hundred social houses.

There were also many other sites owned by Guildford Borough Council in the borough which had yet to be surveyed to see if more sites could be identified that could provide additional housing. This gave me the confidence to publish the Conservative plans to build 110 social houses per annum for the foreseeable future.

Sadly, all the Conservative’s plans appear to have been scrapped. The current Lib Dem/ R4GV administration has to act now to reverse this total and utter failure to provide additional social housing for the people of Guildford.

I challenge them to publish their plans to improve their performance by the end of this financial year in April, together with credible plans for finance and site locations. Had they continued with the Conservative plans, there would have been at least an additional 300 social houses built by now instead of the paltry 36 that have been delivered.

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Responses to Letter: The Council’s Failure to Build More Council Houses is a Tragedy

  1. Ben Paton Reply

    January 18, 2022 at 10:55 am

    The place to address the lack of council houses was the Local Plan.

    We know who was responsible for that. The votes are on the public record.

    The Conservative, one Lib Dem and two Labour Councillors who voted through the disastrous Tory Local Plan in the dying days of Cllr Spooner’s administration share the blame.

    Who voted against? GGG.

  2. Lisa Wright Reply

    January 18, 2022 at 2:41 pm

    Could Philip Brooker please let us know where the 10 brownfield sites are that he earmarked for social housing? What site numbers were they allocated in the Local Plan?

  3. Jeremy Holt Reply

    January 19, 2022 at 5:52 pm

    I am a resident in Guildford Park Avenue and as far as I know, there have never been any such plans for Guildford Park Avenue. It should be Guildford Park Car Park. I expect such a strident letter to be accurate at the very least.

    Editor’s response: Apologies for not spotting this error which has now been corrected.

  4. Sara Tokunaga Reply

    January 20, 2022 at 4:01 pm

    It would be interesting to know how many social houses were built during the Conservative’s reign in Guildford. Mr Brooker bemoans Guildford Park Car Park not having been developed, but the Conservative-led Council did not fulfil its obligations either.

    It is easy to put all these plans on paper and rush a Local Plan through, probably in the full knowledge that the non-development can be blamed on the next council in power. Hopefully, he can rest easier now that Guildford Park Car Park is partially being used as a form of housing at the moment, albeit by Travellers.

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