Fringe Box



Letter: University Does Operate More As A Commercial Organisation

Published on: 9 Jul, 2015
Updated on: 9 Jul, 2015

University of Surrey 1 470From Roland McKinney

If Gordon Bridger [see: Opinion: Guildford Should Cherish Its Students] would care to look at the University of Surrey’s financial statements, I think he would find it is operated more as a commercial organisation than as a public body.

This is reflected in, for example, salaries paid – in 2013/14 there were 48 members of staff paid a salary of more than £100,000 per year.

The highest salary, a total of £392,000 was paid to the President and Vice Chancellor. Given this commercial slant I have no doubt some members of staff would gain some reward if the university profits from a change of land use for Blackwell Farm.

And I doubt if those trapped in the longer traffic queues, that would form on the A3 if Blackwell Farm were developed, would recognise the concept of “public benefit” described by Mr Bridger.

Finally, the housing described by the university in its proposal would do little to alleviate housing pressures in Guildford – the town urgently needs more low cost accommodation, including starter homes and social housing, not mini mansions.

To help provide more low cost accommodation, the university should fulfil its previous promises – and house more students on campus. This would be a “public benefit” recognisable to all.

Share This Post

Responses to Letter: University Does Operate More As A Commercial Organisation

  1. Gordon Bridger Reply

    July 19, 2015 at 7:25 pm

    Mr McKenney makes a fair point about some university salaries, and I agree the university should be able to accommodate more students on campus.

    We do need far more low cost accommodation as Mr McKenney says but where is it to go and how is it to be funded?

    The present system of requiring 1/3 “affordable” on brown field sites will provide very few units and will be paid for by higher profits from the remaining houses. If development is allowed on, say, Wisley and parts of Blackwell Farm we could have a huge number of low cost houses paid for from profits of development.

    I note Wisley proposals include 800 affordable homes. We should insist on more and we could reasonably expect a larger number on Blackwell Farm too. Both these areas occupy less than 0.5% of green belt land.

    Any other solution? Could we have a reasoned debate on this issue? I hope so.

  2. Adrian Atkinson Reply

    July 20, 2015 at 10:02 am

    Mr Bridger talks about needing more “low cost housing”. He then talks about affordable housing. To me and developers, the two are totally different. To me low cost housing is “social housing”. Affordable housing is only rented/sold at 80% of the market value and in the case of Guildford that is not going to be that “affordable”. Mr Bridger needs to be more specific but I believe he means social housing.

    His economics and planning logic make no sense as all. Affordable housing provided by developers is paid for from their profits. If he says the brownfield sites are less profitable than green belt and this drives the need to build on the green belt then it goes against the NPPF [National Planning Policy Framework] planning policies – one of the purposes of the green belt is to prioritise brownfield development.

    Wisley is not the right place for social housing as there is no public transport and no jobs; it is tens of miles away from places of work. A school cannot be built there as pollution levels are above legal levels. Not a great plan on many grounds.

    Developers are often not required to build the affordable housing as they have the “viability” clause as a get out. they are using it right, left and centre. Moreover, the Growth and Infrastructure Act 2013 introduced new guidelines in April 2014 for developers to appeal their affordable housing obligations, if they could prove they would not make a “competitive return” on their developments if they adhered to them.
    So building “lots of stuff” won’t solve the “problem” whatever it is.

    I too hope we can have a reasoned and informed debate as so far it is strewn with throw away sound bites.

  3. Ben Paton Reply

    July 20, 2015 at 6:16 pm

    Mr Bridger would like a reasoned debate. Let’s. How about starting off with a reasoned debate about how many houses are needed? Let’s get the facts. Let’s debate them transparently.

    What’s happened so far? The Draft Local Plan was issued before the SHMA [Strategic Housing Market Asessment] was completed let alone approved, before a transport plan was created, before a Sustainability Appraisal was carried out.

    Guildford Borough Council (GBC) has not even disclosed the arithmetic model on which the SHMA is based. How is that being transparent? How does that facilitate a ‘reasoned debate’.

    Let’s consider the rules. The rules say that ‘exceptional circumstances’ must be shown before taking land out off the green belt. The rules say that harm should not be done to Special Protection Areas and the Historic Environment.

    What’s happened so far? No exceptional circumstances have been set out. Instead we have had an arm chair expert’s opinion on the matter from the council. Hardly surprising since the whole process was led by a bogus barrister.

    Mr Bridger sets up those who want the facts respected and the rules followed as Aunt Sallies who have adopted an unreasonable position. Instead of being an apologist for development of any form, he might trouble to get the facts and to look up the law himself.

Leave a Comment

Please see our comments policy. All comments are moderated and may take time to appear.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *