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Lib Dems Say: Problems Threaten Local Plan Tory ‘Victory’

Published on: 18 Feb, 2019
Updated on: 18 Feb, 2019

The result of the Local Plan two-day hearing last week is a hollow victory for the Conservative-dominated borough council, say Guildford Liberal Democrats.

The Planning Inspector indicated he would accept the council proposal to reduce the housing target to 562 dwellings per annum, a total requirement of 10,678 over the Plan period, reduced from the 12,600 originally proposed. This follows a re-evaluation of the housing requirement by the council’s consultants, G L Hearn, using the revised ONS population projections from September last year.

But the council is still proposing to retain all the site allocations from the Local Plan submitted in December 2017, which provides space for 14,602 dwellings, many on land taken out of the green belt. Those site allocations provided a 20% buffer of housing-land supply above the housing target, in case some of the land may not be used. Leaving those site allocations unchanged increases that buffer to nearly 40%.

Cllr Caroline Reeves

Cllr Caroline Reeves, leader of the Lib Dem group, said: “The new proposal from the council, agreed by the planning inspector, effectively offers extra land to developers, allowing them to build some 2,000 more homes than are needed to meet the housing target.

“This is indeed a hollow victory for our borough, risking the irreversible, unnecessary loss of green belt as well as potential over-development in the town and urban areas. We want an adopted Local Plan to guard against speculative development proposals and to provide the proper, practical housing local people really need.

“We don’t want a Plan that potentially offers developers too much land and threatens both town and countryside with the consequences of over-development, more traffic congestion, more air pollution, and intolerable pressure on stretched local services such as health and schools.”

Cllr Liz Hogger

Cllr Liz Hogger is the Lib Dem spokesperson on planning and represents the green belt ward of Effingham. She said: “I was disturbed to hear the inspector say he struggled to think of a time when there was so much uncertainty in planning as now, with goal-posts constantly moving. If a Planning Inspector is concerned about uncertainty and moving goal-posts on housing, that is a real indictment of this Conservative government’s planning chaos.”

Cllr Reeves (Friary & St Nicolas) added: “At a time of such national political turmoil and speculation, combined with threats from the Conservative government to impose housing targets on any authority without a valid Local Plan, is this the time to be agreeing to release more land from the green belt than needed to meet the housing target?

“When councillors are asked to adopt this Local Plan, we will have to reach a difficult judgement about future government planning policy, which is likely to make the situation even worse.”

Criticism of the Tories by Lib Dem councillors follows accusations by other parties that the Lib Dems were being “too soft” in opposition and even supportive of the Tory leadership over the Local Plan.

See also:

Fewer Houses For Guildford Expected As Local Plan Examination Ends But Criticism Remains 

Local Plan Hearings – Opponents Remain Pessimistic

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Responses to Lib Dems Say: Problems Threaten Local Plan Tory ‘Victory’

  1. Jules Cranwell Reply

    February 18, 2019 at 11:33 am

    So now the Lib Dems are finally challenging the Tories on the Local Plan. Rather a case of too little, too late, given how they have slavishly supported them throughout.

    But hold on, there is an election in the offing…

    • Liz Hogger Reply

      February 19, 2019 at 11:31 am

      I would point out that the Lib Dems were quite clear when the new ONS projections were published at the end of September last year that reduced figures should mean the site allocations must be reconsidered. You can find that letter at

      The Lib Dems have been entirely consistent in our approach to the Local Plan, challenging when challenge is needed. We get the best results for our residents that way. The continuous shouting approach, adopted by some, is counter-productive and allows the Conservatives to ignore the valid points made which get drowned out by the noise.

      • David Roberts Reply

        February 22, 2019 at 5:34 pm

        I would point out that the Lib Dem leader eagerly associated herself with Cllr Spooner’s bullying complaint against GGG councillor David Reeve when the latter had the temerity to submit a magisterial paper proving that the council’s original housing need figures were wildly exaggerated.

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