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Letter: We Can’t Simply ‘Unbake’ the Local Plan

Published on: 29 Jul, 2021
Updated on: 29 Jul, 2021

From: John Rigg

Lead GBC councillor for Regeneration and R4GV councillor for Holy Trinity

In response to: I Feel Helpless and Hopeless Over Local Planning Decisions

I for one am very saddened by the heartfelt letter from Sue Reeve. I both understand, and sympathise with, her frustration.

There are very many of us who are not happy with the harm being caused but we have two principal issues. Firstly a Local Plan pushed through in the last week of the last Conservative council that facilitated this situation. The Plan was under preparation from about 2010 until adopted in 2019 and is effectively a considerable piece of legislation.

I can only explain that like a baked cake it is very difficult to unbake, especially in a hung council. Nonetheless, the current leader has set us on a course to update the Plan and l hope we might revisit its excesses.

But even updating will need a new evidence base; how quickly we can undertake this is currently a subject of debate.

The second point is we will still have to deliver the huge numbers of new homes, as required by central government, and they have to go somewhere.

I am working hard on a brownfield first approach but it is difficult with flooding, transportation and other, more man-made, obstacles despite the obvious prize for everyone.

Lastly, l doubt we can put back the clock on the three strategic sites [Wisley Airfield, Gosden Hill and Blackwell Farm] which will disappoint many.

All l can suggest is, keep a careful watch on the debates at your local council and keep in touch with your councillor as the proposed update unfolds.

The government is threatening new town planning legislation so watch out for major changes. And be prepared for them to be unfriendly.

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