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Letter: Unrestricted Public Consultation is Not the Answer to Town Planning

Published on: 4 Sep, 2020
Updated on: 4 Sep, 2020

From: Bibhas Neogi

In response to: MP Richardson’s Sudden ‘Guildford Forum’ Plan Meets Mixed Reception

It is always good to consult the public but when the issues are complex and constraints are many public consultation would merely bring up already expressed wishes that are either impracticable or unconducive to an integrated approach. Consultations have been going on for many years by the councils, the Guildford Society and Guildford Vision Group.

For example, answers that have been obtained are: “we wish to keep the bus station where it is”; “Debenhams subway should be reopened”; “we want new housing on brownfield sites only” (not appreciating that expansion of services cannot be unlimited especially for foul sewer management); “we want safer cycle lanes and pedestrian routes by banning all traffic in the town centre”; “we do not want to improve the road network for traffic – it will only bring in more vehicles”, and so on.

Members of the public are not town planners. A better approach would be for the council to propose realistic options and then invite comments from the public rather than asking them for their views on what they would like to see done in an unstructured way.

The options could then be modified and refined, taking on board comments and suggestions that offer improvement.

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Responses to Letter: Unrestricted Public Consultation is Not the Answer to Town Planning

  1. Pete Knight Reply

    September 4, 2020 at 11:09 pm

    It’s not just members of the public who should be limited in their involvement in planning decisions. I watched a very concerning planning committee webinar the other night surrounding a property in Little Warren Close.

    The comments being made were amateurish with certain members thinking it was their role to pass judgement on the applicant’s motives. Comments made were arbitrary despite an articulate planning team pointing out rules and policies.

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