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Letter: Those Who Dislike the Local Plan Should Not Turn on Each Other

Published on: 14 Jul, 2022
Updated on: 14 Jul, 2022

From: John Rigg

lead GBC councillor for Regeneration and R4GV borough councillor for Holy Trinity

In response to: comment from Jules Cranwell on Those Asking for a Local Plan Review Should be Careful What They Wish For

Jules Cranwell’s attack on my colleague Colin Cross annoyed me. I considered it unfair. But then I thought harder.

In fact, Mr Cranwell, Colin and I have much in common in our view of Guildford’s Local Plan. We all believe it is a bad plan, adopted in a disgraceful way, without respect for residents’ wishes. In 2019 it was rushed through by a dying, unpopular Conservative administration, the leaders of which seemed to prefer to kowtow, for whatever ends, to their party colleagues in government.

Before we were elected a week later, we in R4GV thought it would be possible to review the plan, we did imagine it would be easier than it proved to be. Once elected, we were faced with repeated legal advice that any review would run a high risk that the housing number for Guildford would increase, exactly the opposite of what we wanted, what we still want.

Now, as councillors bearing the responsibility for this borough’s future, we will not, and should not, be negligent by pushing the Local Plan review button regardless of the consequences for our residents, even if our coalition partners would agree to such a decision, and that is unlikely.

In any case, a review will have to be held in 2024 and extensive evidence will need to be assembled to justify a decision to change the plan significantly and gain the approval of a planning inspector and government minister. Unfortunately, this is the hard reality.

In the meantime, I am working hard to drive the regeneration of North Street and provide more housing in the town centre which can only help reduce future pressure on our green belt and re-energise our town centre.

I really do have sympathy for Jules Cranwell’s position. He and other residents in our villages have felt the full brunt of the Tory plan. Their anger is understandable but attacking those with fundamentally the same concerns will not help.

Those of us who want local planning to go in a different direction need to cooperate. In only ten months there will be another borough council election. I pray that disunity among those that have opposed the Local Plan do not let its supporters back in.



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Responses to Letter: Those Who Dislike the Local Plan Should Not Turn on Each Other

  1. Howard Smith Reply

    July 15, 2022 at 5:03 pm

    It is hard not to raise a wry smile that the party that rode into the last borough elections on a promise to review the local plan now seem determined to ride into the next one on a promise not to review it.

    Speaking personally, I don’t see how they can sustain this position for much longer and they will have to eventually give way and go for a review, possibly on the eve of the next election.

    Of course, it seems highly likely that the outcome of any review would be the housing requirement would go up and I’m sure I wouldn’t be the only one happy to see more homes built. So go for it! There is great demand here and we have lots of room for them.

    Howard Smith is vice-chair of Guildford Labour.

    Editors note: As alluded to in Cllr Rigg’s article, a review of the Local Plan is mandatory after five years, so will have to be conducted in 2024.

  2. Ben Paton Reply

    July 16, 2022 at 3:59 pm

    What has Cllr Colin Cross actually done to review the Local Plan?

    Can R4GV point to any concrete evidence that it has tried to revise the Tory Local Plan?

    Has it gathered any evidence? Has it set out the case for review? If so, where?

    R4GV cannot ride two horses at once.

    Denigrating the Tory Local Plan whilst also adopting and implementing it is intellectually dishonest.

    Expressing sympathy with local residents while continuing to turn the screws on them does not come across as sincere.

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