Fringe Box



Letter: The Local Plan – It Seems We Are Being Stitched Up

Published on: 1 Sep, 2018
Updated on: 1 Sep, 2018

From Adam Aaronson

In response to: Next Step for Local Plan – Reactions to GBC Announcement

It is clear that revisions to the local plan must go through the normal consultation process.

However, Cllr Caroline Reeves implies that Guildford is being held to ransom by Westminster who will decide on “what is built and where” unless we have a Local Plan in place by a given date next year, although she doesn’t elaborate as to when that is.

It is about time that the Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government, James Brokenshire, took steps to level the playing field. In Guildford, we have been through a long and careful process of consultation and inspection, during which many thousands of people have been engaged and have expressed their opinion.

The Tories brought in the Localism Act, but they don’t seem to like the fact that Guildford residents have embraced it and engaged with it. It seems that Guildford residents don’t agree with what the government wants to impose and what some consider the current Executive wants to approve.

If as a result of decisions by a planning inspector, the ongoing consultation process takes longer, then the end-date of the process must be extended.

Otherwise, it would appear as if the government is effectively blackmailing residents. We should not be deciding these major issues with the sword of Damocles hanging over us on a time basis.

The very fact that the inspector has proposed changes to the Draft Plan underlines how controversial development in Guildford is.

I am concerned to read Cllr Susan Parker’s statement that “the inspector indicated proposed changes would be agreed between him and the planning department”. This implies an attempt by the inspector to railroad amendments to the plan while paying lip service to the concept of consultation. Or, to use the vernacular, that we are being stitched up.

The inspector is supposed to be impartial. The Secretary of State needs to address the fact that many residents consider that policy is being dictated from Westminster and that the inspector, appears to be riding roughshod over residents’ opinions.

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