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Local MP Says Local Plan is ‘Not Fit for Purpose’

Published on: 22 Jun, 2016
Updated on: 23 Jun, 2016

Screen Shot 2016-06-22 at 13.24.11The Local Plan for Guildford Borough has been criticised as “not fit for purpose” by a local MP.

Sir Paul Beresford, whose Mole Valley constituency includes four of the eastern wards of Guildford Borough, wrote, in a reply to one his constituents, Mike Murphy of Ripley: “The Local Plan in its current form is not fit for purpose….

“…most outrageous of all is the fact that Wisley still appears in the Local Plan and is earmarked for 2,000 houses. Simply put this would be a disaster which I will oppose with all the political strength at my disposal.”

Sir Paul also makes it clear that he has been working together with Cllrs Matt Sarti and Jenny Wicks, Conservative councillors for the Clandon and Horsley ward which lies within the Mole Valley constituency.

Both councillors are known to object to the current plan and disagree with the council Executive and most of the Conservative group at Millmead. Cllr Sarti was vocal in his opposition at recent council meetings, reminding his fellow Conservatives of their election promises to protect the green belt. He voted against the Local Plan proceeding to public consultation.

Encouraging residents to participate in the consultation process, the MP for Mole Valley wrote: “There are of course further specific faults with the draft Local Plan, and I am grateful to the diligent residents who have brought these to my attention. At this stage though, the most important thing is that the residents engage with the consultation process.”

He concludes: “Government advice is unmistakably clear – that housing need alone is not adequate grounds for building on the green belt…”

Mike Murphy who received the letter is hoping that the letter will put: “… more pressure on the dreadful councillors at GBC, who despite promises to the contrary are determined to scrap our fantastic green belt and concrete over our beautiful Surrey countryside.

“I think it is a very important document considering the GBC is Conservative dominated but they see fit to break their election promises  to protect the green belt and go against national Conservative policy.”

Paul Beresford MP letter Jun 2016 masked

The letter sent by Sir Paul Beresford, MP for Mole Valley, to Mike Murphy.

Caroline Reeves, leader of the opposition and the Lib Dem group at GBC, said: “It’s a bit rich for Conservative MP Sir Paul Beresford to be putting himself forward as the defender of the green belt when it’s his own Conservative government putting the council under intense pressure to build more houses at all costs.

“Moreover, it’s Conservative-controlled Guildford Borough Council who are promoting the draft Local Plan he complains about. Sir Paul would do better to spend his time lobbying his own government to change its approach to housing and the green belt.

All the councillors local to the Wisley Airfield site, from all parties, are fighting that proposal on behalf of their communities. In fact, it was the Lovelace Lib Dem councillor Colin Cross who proposed removing that site from the draft Local Plan, seconded by Effingham Lib Dem councillor Liz Hogger.

“It’s hypocritical for Sir Paul to attempt to claim a monopoly of virtue in defending the green belt in the east of the borough while leaving unchallenged the constant pressure to build by his Government.”

But Susan Parker, leader of the Guildford Greenbelt Group (GGG) was less critical. She said this afternoon (Jun 22): “GGG welcomes the fact that Sir Paul is encouraging people to write and express their views on the Local Plan. We do not think that the Local Plan is fit for purpose, with arguments we’ve made before and that are on our website.

“We agree that members of the community should write and say what they think. It is vital that people express their views, especially since these views will be shared with the planning inspector in due course.”

Comments from Guildford’s MP, Anne Milton and the leader of GBC, Paul Spooner, have also been invited.


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Responses to Local MP Says Local Plan is ‘Not Fit for Purpose’

  1. Adrian Atkinson Reply

    June 23, 2016 at 1:09 am

    It is a bit rich of Cllr Reeves to critisise a Tory while she seems to support everything the Conservative Executive proposes, including the current draft Local Plan.

  2. John Robson Reply

    June 23, 2016 at 9:29 am

    I’m confused, if it’s a “Local Plan” which was has been subjected to extensive consultation and vociferous objection by the electorate of Guildford Borough, why are Guildford Borough Council (GBC) being dictated to by central government?

    Surely the purpose of a Local Plan is to meet local needs and objectives, not those handed down from Westminster.

    What exactly is the point of having locally elected representatives manage the compilation of a “Local” Plan if they just meekly follow the Conservative dictats from up on high?

    Surely it would be more beneficial to just save on the councillor attendance allowances and become another borough of London, once the clone of the M3 is in place we will be as one anyway.

    This contrasts greatly with the stance of GBC in 2010 when they took the Labour government to court to successfully block development on the green belt – different colour rosette I guess. GBC seem to be a bit selective when it comes to playing party politics.

  3. Paul Bishop Reply

    June 23, 2016 at 2:19 pm

    Surely Sir Paul should be using his influence in the government to try and resolve the targets being handed out for house building rather than pushing against the council.

    MPs are to take our issues to parliament for discussion/resolution. Not to just criticise the local government.

    The problem with politics (local and national) at the moment is no one wants to actually tackle problems. It’s all finger pointing, complaining and hot air. That’s not what they’re elected for.

  4. Valerie Thompson Reply

    June 23, 2016 at 4:31 pm

    The fact the Wisley site is still included in the draft Local Plan makes one question the whole ethos of the GBC Executive. The councillors unanimously decided on 14 counts that the site was unsuitable and yet there it is, still.

  5. Ben Paton Reply

    June 23, 2016 at 11:53 pm

    Has Cllr Caroline Reeves ever voted against anything to do with the Tory Local Plan?

    What’s worse: being an architect of the Local Plan trajectory or being a rubber stamp to endorse it?

    If all that the local council does is follow central government diktat it might as well be abolished and save us all some money.

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