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Letter: Urnfield Planning Decision Shows Planning Committee Is Not Fit For Purpose

Published on: 6 Dec, 2021
Updated on: 7 Dec, 2021

From: Howard Smith

Vice-chair of Guildford Labour Party

In response to: Urnfield Sports Pitch Application Unanimously Rejected By Councillors Against Planning Officers Advice

There were other decisions at the planning meeting last week that call into question what is going on at the committee. Only two weeks ago members were advised that turning over perfectly adequate applications was costing the council increasing amounts of money in defending lost appeals. Members have clearly not listened to the message or don’t care.

It is extraordinary that this application to upgrade school sports facilities (to be shared between two schools) was turned down because it backs on to the Downs. If we can’t even allow good facilities for children’s sports, what is the point?

But then later some sensible preparatory work for the development at Wisley was turned down. I can only guess that the committee, or some members of it, don’t like the Wisley development and so are refusing this bit of access development in place of being able to refuse the Wisley development itself.

This will almost certainly be reversed on appeal at great cost and delay which will then no doubt cause further traffic problems in the area.

Though the committee may be balanced politically, no one seems to have noticed the inherent bias in favour of the more rural areas of the town. At the meeting last week we had no voting members from Holy Trinity, Christchurch or even Burpham or Merrow and only one from Friary & St Nicolas. Yet two from Shalford, one each from Clandon, Worpledson, Effingham, Normandy and Lovelace. How is this representative of Guildford as a town?

It would be of great service to Guildford if the current committee was dissolved, new members recruited, and full training given. Perhaps then we might have a Planning Committee fit for purpose.

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test 2 Responses to Letter: Urnfield Planning Decision Shows Planning Committee Is Not Fit For Purpose

  1. David Smith Reply

    December 6, 2021 at 2:53 pm

    Is Howard Smith unaware that the Urnfield site is AONB? It’s not just a site adjacent to the Downs. This clearly wasn’t an adequate proposal since it gathered hundreds of objections. I’m also pretty disgusted to learn that there are already adequate under-used facilities for these schools at Surrey Sports Park.

    Also for those that don’t know – there have been various applications in the past to build phone masts on Urnfield. The last was for a mast to be built like a tree. Not only was this refused by planners but also dismissed at appeal.

    But one tree-shaped mast has got to be better visually than a load of high-level floodlights and as this was dismissed at appeal I’m not sure how successful any appeal would be from these schools.

    I can’t comment on Wisley.

  2. Jules Cranwell Reply

    December 11, 2021 at 6:23 am

    I would argue that it is the planning officers who are unfit for purpose. They are always ready to support developers’ wishes, no matter how ruinous developments are to the environment, and the character of our villages.

    From the latest planning meeting, it is obvious that they are out of step with residents and councillors to a very worrying extent. They need to wake up and realize their job is to support residents, not developers.

    They recommended the building of an access road into the former Wisley airfield, when there has been no approval for development there.

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