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Letter: Time to Move On to Managing Delivery of the Local Plan Strategic Sites

Published on: 27 Oct, 2020
Updated on: 27 Oct, 2020

From Paul Spooner

Conservative ‘independent’ borough councillor for South Ash & Tongham

In response to: The Lack of Objective Testing in the Local Plan Beggars Belief and Despite Thousands of Reasoned Objections, the Spooner Executive Forced Through a Disastrous Plan

I respect Mr Lyon’s planning knowledge as a senior employee at Savills, the promotor of strategic sites in the former green belt, including the former Wisley airfield site within the Local Plan, and appreciate the personal conflict that must create for him.

Perhaps Savills should resign as site promoters locally as a point of principle in support of Mr Lyon?

I make the following comments in response to his and Mr Paton’s latest appraisals:

1) The council’s approach was always brownfield first. It is required by national policy and any other method would not have been found sound at inspection;

2) The spatial strategy was discussed at length and challenged at the Local Plan examination. The Inspector found it to be sound in all respects and anyone reading the Inspector’s final report would struggle to find a different conclusion;

3) The Sustainability Assessment was discussed at length, challenged at the examination and tested through the High Court. That demonstrated the council considered reasonable alternatives. Critical to the Local Plan process was the requirement to exclude sites unlikely to be delivered during the lifetime of the Plan, as these would not be able, under legislative process, to contribute towards meeting the identified housing requirement;

4) Other than SARP (now renamed Weyside Urban Village), no major brownfield regeneration proposals existed or exist that could be put forward in a plan to meet the required tests in the NPPF. Frustrating as that is for GVG/GSoc and the Conservative administration, it is a matter of following the guidance as set out in legislation;

5) Making the best use of land is a key principle of plan-making. All sites should optimise density consistent with the protection of existing character. This is critical, IMO, in the delivery of sites and it is the new council’s responsibility to shape the best development across the borough. As Mr Lyon’s party is now in leadership at GBC and responsible for that, I trust we will have development to be proud of; and

6) All the sites allocated in the Plan, with the exception of Wisley, where Savills are the site promoters, are adjacent to existing urban areas and facilities.

Wisley must deliver new facilities to support the new community and I trust Mr Lyon will hold Savills and the developer to account, along with the council and the local community, to deliver a sustainable exemplary development.

Ash and Tongham, along with the Guildford station site, are all testament to the failure of NOT having an adopted Plan in place to shape and support the existing community. We do not need any more.

Infrastructure is provided within the Plan to support planned growth, but this will also enhance sustainability throughout the borough. If this is not forthcoming, development within the Plan should (must) be scaled back significantly. This is a key role, in my opinion, of the new administration.

In summary, isn’t it time to move on to managing delivery of the Local Plan strategic sites, providing a balance of new homes desperately needed in our borough, especially affordable rent properties, in the most sustainable way?

We must also ensure the environment and climate change issues (actually all the UN sustainability goals) are at the forefront of place-making over the Plan period and beyond. For me that is paramount, as it always was for the next stage of the Local Plan process.

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test 2 Responses to Letter: Time to Move On to Managing Delivery of the Local Plan Strategic Sites

  1. David Roberts Reply

    October 27, 2020 at 5:00 pm

    Of course Cllr Spooner wants to “move on”. The plan is a disaster and he is the person most responsible for its forced and unethical adoption. He’s down a hole and should stop digging.

  2. Robert Burch Reply

    October 28, 2020 at 6:38 pm

    It’s no surprise that planning in Guildford has been a mess for such a long time when Cllr Spooner and others seem to be unable to work with those who have decades of professional experience and are willing to offer this for free to help improve their community.

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