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Letter: Where Would We Be With No Local Plan to Protect the Green Belt?

Published on: 13 Nov, 2021
Updated on: 13 Nov, 2021

From: Paul Spooner

Conservative borough councillor for Ash South & Tongham

I find it interesting that Cllr Bigmore, who was elected on a mandate to review the Local Plan in order to significantly reduce development, is now endorsing what we [Conservatives] were saying prior to adoption of the Local Plan in April 2019.

Where would we be if there was no Local Plan in place to protect the vast majority of the green belt and the intrinsic beauty of our villages?

The answer can, very sadly, be found in Ash and Tongham where no protection was in place after the CBGB [countryside beyond the green belt] local designation was removed through the introduction of the NPPF [National Planning Policy Framework] in 2012.

Since May 2019 I have heard R4GV [Residents for Guildford & Villages] referring to “good practice’ in Epsom and Ewell, where the borough council is also run by Independents. Look where they are now.

I do feel very strongly that if central government does not commit to the infrastructure designed into the Local Plan then we should (as per the Plan) reduce development as there is a genuine reason for reducing house numbers.

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test 5 Responses to Letter: Where Would We Be With No Local Plan to Protect the Green Belt?

  1. Jim Allen Reply

    November 13, 2021 at 6:48 pm

    As the green belt was properly protected prior to the local plan by the NPPF [National Planning Policy Framework], we would have been better off without it.

    Any attempt to build on green belt would have had to be argued by developers, square metre by square meter, not totally lost by the square kilometre in one fell swoop.

    The removal using the imaginary and non-existent traffic light system of the green belt selection at three locations conveniently wanted by developers to build on can only be seen as questionable. Past action destroyed these sections of the green belt forever.

    Ash is an entirely different situation as it had no green nelt designation, in fact, the planning inspector refused to allow Cllr Spooner’s attempt for it to be designated green belt at the examination.

    As for the missing infrastructure, only 49 homes worth of water for the WUV [Weyside Urban Village scheme] and still the Cllr Spooner voted for the 1,550 accommodation units with no parking and no agreed road plans. And we will have an overloaded electricity supply, the very missing infrastructure he says we should use to stop development.

    Statutory and technical reality seems sadly missing from so many arguments these days.

  2. Jules Cranwell Reply

    November 13, 2021 at 7:59 pm

    Words fail me. Cllr Spooner should visit West Horsley to see the devastation caused by his plan which took the villages out of the green belt.

    How precisely does he think removing the protection of Greenbelt status has protected our green belt?

    We won’t be fooled again.

  3. Valerie Thompson Reply

    November 14, 2021 at 9:47 am

    The Local Plan has protected green belts? I think not.

    What was GBC thinking about when it removed 13 of the villages surrounding Guildford from green belt protection? What was GBC planning department thinking when it recently approved development on Manor Farm in West Horsley when there were 181 objections and only six letters of approval.

    It was Cllr Spooner and his allies who, in forcing through the Local Plan during the “Purdah” period, have ruined the beauty of our ancient villages.

  4. David Roberts Reply

    November 16, 2021 at 1:24 pm

    Cllr Spooner should get out of public life. He had his chance to run the council and failed miserably, almost destroying the local Tory party.

    Along with a handful of other notorious local Tories – Mansbridge, Juneja, Furniss – Cllr Spooner is entirely responsible for the hated Local Plan which is visibly destroying the thousand-year history of Guildford’s villages as rural communities. Even one of the borough’s Tory MPs called the underhand adoption of the Plan “hurried and undemocratic.”

    Cllr Spooner’s latest “post-truth” attempts to re-write this history disgust me.

    Many of us residents have voted Conservative in the past, but relying on the inertia of traditional Tory voters won’t work again with the residents of villages like Ash and Tongham, who have inexplicably been keeping Cllr Spooner in place as a councillor.

    He and his miserable rump of Tory over-stayers need throwing out.

    • John Perkins Reply

      November 17, 2021 at 8:56 am

      I agree with everything David Roberts writes, except his view that the residents of Ash South & Tongham keeping Cllr Spooner in place is inexplicable.

      The system of block voting, in “first-past-the-post” multi-member wards, unfairly favours parties able to put up the same number of candidates as there are seats in a council ward. This is because voters are given as many votes as there are seats and party supporters tend to vote for all the candidates of “their” party.

      Had R4GV been able to put up two candidates in Ash South & Tongham it’s almost certain the electorate there would have dispensed with the services of Mr Spooner.

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