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Letter: Why Has Guildford’s Local Plan Gone So Wrong?

Published on: 26 Sep, 2022
Updated on: 26 Sep, 2022

From: Ben Paton

In his letter: Rate of Building Development Needs To Match Infrastructure Capacity Mr Allen is objectively, empirically, provably, legally and morally right.

Why has Guildford’s Local Plan gone so wrong?

First, because it was corrupt. It distorted the facts. It asked the wrong questions. It deliberately made the wrong judgements. A few examples will suffice to demonstrate this:

Guildford Borough Council, led by councillors from Ash, tried to create a development “exclusion zone” called “Land Beyond the Green Belt” around Ash. This was legally a nonsense and it was thrown out summarily by the Local Plan inspector. But what were they thinking?

The council, presented with a dilemma by the inspector that the former Wisley airfield was designated as a Site of Nature Conservation Importance, decided to strong-arm SCC to change the designation. But it failed to publish the inspector’s note. What were they thinking?

The council, then led by Cllrs Spooner and Furniss, asked the leader of SCC to support an application to HM Government to treat the former Wisley airfield site as a “Garden Village”. It did not meet any of the criteria. But the leader of SCC wrote in support. What was he thinking?

The council, then led by the so-called Conservatives, designed a Local Plan around a piece of national infrastructure, the A3, controlled by a quasi-independent agency (National Highways) which has no intention of creating additional capacity on the A3 to handle a massive increase in local traffic. What were they thinking?

Most fundamentally of all, the Local Plan is premised on out-of-date population projections. Everyone, including the ONS, knows these projections are wrong. But the council prefers not to let the facts get in the way of what it wants to do.

Second, the people who were elected to correct all these mistakes have just folded their arms and said “no can do”.

This pitiful abdication of responsibility is equivalent to President Zelensky asking for a helicopter to evacuate him from Kiev at the start of the Russian invasion.

The council does not treat the Local Plan as the fraud that it is. It treats it all as a “special military operation” that it is powerless to influence.

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