Fringe Box



Letter: The Guildford Society Does Not Represent the Views of Those Outside the Town

Published on: 29 Mar, 2024
Updated on: 28 Mar, 2024

From: Ben Paton

In response to: The Guildford Society’s View of How the Local Plan Update Should Be Conducted

This uncritical article is replete with platitudes and pious generalisations eg “A Guildford Local Plan update needs to be robustly developed”, and  “The Society recognizes there are risks”. De profundis!

It fails even to mention the single most important element of any Local Plan, the Housing Target. Nor does it make any attempt to examine the meaning of “sustainable” in the context of the borough.

The Society has had plenty to say about the North Street and Solum developments but is silent on the 6,000 houses planned to go onto greenfield sites up and down the A3. It has nothing to say about building council houses. Perhaps that’s because few or none of its members are on a council house waiting list or live in council houses?

It is just factually untrue that the council cannot put land into the green belt. As a matter of fact it can. The process is identical to that for taking land out of the green belt. All that is required is 1) the will 2) an evidence base.

The missing piece of the equation is the will. The evidence can be obtained.

Plainly the Guildford Society is not in command of the facts, has not critically scrutinised the housing target or the proposed new towns in the 2019 Local Plan and only represents the very narrow interests of those who live in the town of Guildford itself.

It is sadly disconnected with reality and out of touch with residents in the rural parts of the borough.

The unspoken message from the Guildford Society is that it is delighted to have huge new suburbs built on completely unsustainable car-dependent green field sites – so long as they are miles away from the town. Whoever the Society speaks for it is not for the people who live in the largest area of the borough formerly represented by the Rural District Council.

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Responses to Letter: The Guildford Society Does Not Represent the Views of Those Outside the Town

  1. David Roberts Reply

    March 29, 2024 at 2:28 pm

    Politicians should wake up: the 10-15,000 voters who live in the north-east of the borough are still furious about the Tory Local Plan and the Lib Dems’ refusal to correct it over the last five years.

    The plan’s most fundamental flaw is its “housing need” target of 14,000 over fifteen years, which ONS population figures confirm is excessive.

    This defect has been well-known for over ten years. Eight years ago, a respected housing expert, Neil McDonald, exposed it comprehensively in a report for the Guildford Residents’ Association. Around the same time, GGG former councillor David Reeve wrote a detailed report of his own that came to the same conclusion. For his pains, he was effectively hounded from office by the then leaders of the Tory and Lib Dem groups on the council, who afterwards forced the plan through as it stood.

    The Guildford Society seem content that nearly all this unnecessary housing is dumped in the countryside, thereby accelerating the decay of the town. Ben Paton is factually right on all points. Under its present, diminished leadership, GSoc has given up.

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