Fringe Box



Letter: University’s Empty Promise Of Housing For Key Workers

Published on: 11 May, 2014
Updated on: 11 May, 2014

By Karen Stevens 

During last Tuesday’s Eagle Radio debate on the Local Plan at the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre, a representative of the University of Surrey mentioned a lack of homes for university staff.

The Stag at the University of Surrey will be the venue for the fist Love event

In response, I pointed out that this situation had been created, in part, by the university itself, which had been planning permission for 270 staff homes on its Manor Park estate 10 years ago, but had failed to build these and was now pushing for yet more “homes for key workers” on its green belt land at Blackwell Farm.

When the microphone was passed to Greg Melly, vice-president of the University of Surrey’s corporate affairs, he said that he could not “recall” this figure of 270 homes and went on to talk about his “dream” for these key workers’ homes to form part of the university’s proposed development on the Hog’s Back.

Let me help jog Mr Melly’s memory – as part of the Manor Park’s outlining planning permission, the university committed to building 300 staff homes before 2015. Only 30 of these have been built so far and, according to the Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment (SHLAA), the remaining 270 will not now be built for another 11 to 15 years. It seems strange that Mr Melly should be “dreaming” about more key worker homes, when the university is not planning to deliver on its existing permissions any time soon.

While the university might be dreaming of all money it would make if it develops vast housing estates across the Hog’s Back, it appears to be just more empty promises for university key workers who haven’t had the houses they were promised and deja vu for the rest of us, who saw the university use these same arguments 10 years ago to push the green belt back across Manor Farm.


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Responses to Letter: University’s Empty Promise Of Housing For Key Workers

  1. Alan Sutherland Reply

    May 23, 2014 at 4:22 pm

    Actually no, that is not what happened.

    A representative of the University of Surrey Students’ Union (me) highlighted that as a small charity operating in Guildford with 26 staff, only two of our staff are homeowners in Guildford borough. The remaining staff commute in from outside the borough.

    The point of the question was that it is too expensive for staff to buy in Guildford and where some may rent for a time, when it comes to buying a family home they are priced out of the market.

    The second point was that as the price of travel was rising faster than the cost of inflation it is becoming more difficult to afford to commute into Guildford as well. The commute also contributes to the A3 problem that the CPRE member alluded to.

    My question to the council was do they prefer that Guildford has affordable housing or an affordable commute. The answer I was given was (in simple terms) both.

  2. Bernard Parke Reply

    May 24, 2014 at 6:07 pm

    This issue also applies to sons and daughters of Guildford residents who also can not afford to live within our own town. University staff are not alone in this.

    Many houses appear to have been bought up by outsiders that they then rent to students.

    As I have said numerous times before, as such, no council or any other tax is paid to provide services within the borough.

  3. Alan Sutherland Reply

    May 25, 2014 at 5:58 pm


    Every year you say this and every year I correct you – yet you persist in trotting out these incorrect facts.

    1. A house which is entirely occupied by students is not liable for council tax, that much is true. HOWEVER, the Borough Council is recompensed by central government for this exemption.

    2. What do you mean that no ‘other tax’ is paid? Any householder is entitled to rent 1 room for up to £4,250 per annum to anyone (not just students) any income over that is taxed.

    Finally, that is a sweeping statement that ‘many houses appear to be have been bought up outsiders’ where is your evidence. What do you mean by ‘outsiders’? By what definition in your world can someone be entitled to buy a house in Guildford – they have to be born there?

    [Ed: Thank you Alan for your comment putting the record straight. As far as The Guildford Dragon NEWS is concerned, this subject is now closed to further comment, unless laws and tax arrangements are changed in the future.]

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