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Local Plan Part 2 Moves to Next Stage, Despite Environmental Concerns

Published on: 16 Jun, 2022
Updated on: 16 Jun, 2022

By Emily Coady-Stemp

local democracy reporter

Guildford councillors have voted to submit the second part of the borough’s Local Plan despite concerns it doesn’t do enough to address climate change.

Part 2, the Development Management Policies, which went through a public consultation in January and February, will be submitted to government inspectors and once adopted will fully replace the previous 2003 plan.

But an extraordinary meeting of Guildford Borough Council on Thursday (June 9) saw an amendment put forward by two Guildford Greenbelt Group councillors who asked members to be “braver” in the plan that was submitted.

Cllr Joss Bigmore

The borough council’s leader, Cllr Joss Bigmore (Residents for Guildford and Villages, Christchurch), introduced the final stage of the local plan documents as aiming to secure “good development” in the area.

He said the development management policies being voted on by the council would cover “a wide range of environmental, design, heritage and more detailed infrastructure matters”.

Cllr Bigmore added: “They’re designed to test planning applications and ensure development meets exacting but reasonable expectations, that result in sustainable and attractive development.”

‘Please stand up for the community and stand up for the future’

Cllr Susan Parker

Cllr Susan Parker (Send), the former leader of the Guildford Greenbelt Group (GGG) said she thought the council had failed to take “a huge opportunity” to adapt to climate change in its plan for new homes.

She said: “We just don’t need to be the handmaids to developers at every step of the road.

“Please stand up for the community and stand up for the future.

“Please let’s impose some decent standards, to make sure that we have a chance of actually reducing our carbon footprint because otherwise, for all the fine words about declaring climate emergencies and all the rest of it, it’s just so much hot air.”

Cllr Parker said councillors had a chance to make a difference, for their children’s and grandchildren’s sakes.

She added: “We can actually reduce our carbon footprint, and we can be a little bit braver. We have a choice.”

The proposed amendment, which was heavily defeated in the chamber, called for an emergency committee to consider the document before it was sent to inspectors, to “strengthen” requirements in relation to climate change.

It called for, among other things, the banning of gas boilers in new homes.

Cllr Ramsey Nagaty

Cllr Ramsey Nagaty (Shalford), the current leader of GGG, who seconded the amendment, said the aim was to allow the borough council to strengthen its policies, not to stop them going forward.

He raised concerns about properties that may be built now and then need to be retrofitted to make them more sustainable at a later date, at a large cost to the owners.

He added: “We should be planning for the future now. The more we allow plans which have eco-type housing systems and less dependence on cars, the more we reduce the damage to our climate, and the more we will end up with a more sustainable, better Guildford.”

‘Plan’s policies are an expression of what society wants’

Responding to the amendment, Cllr Bigmore said any attempt to bring in a policy banning gas boilers would be difficult before central government policies which planned to do so from 2025.

He said proposed policies on ancient woodland and protecting trees were “about a strong as it gets”, given that developments which threatened them should be refused “unless there are wholly exceptional reasons, and a suitable compensation strategy exists”.

At the beginning of the meeting, he pointed out that the last round of public consultations had seen comments broadly fall into two groups.

There were those who said the policies were “too onerous” in terms of the burden placed on development, and those that said they didn’t go far enough in terms of requirements for new developments.

In response to the amendment, Cllr Bigmore said the policies were an “expression of what society wants and what the chamber wants”.

He said both society, all those that had contributed to the local plan, and the borough councillors had climate change concerns, as well as character and heritage concerns.

He added “This document, which I’m very proud of, is an expression of everyone that’s contributed to it.

“And I’m sorry that the majority of the borough and the chamber don’t agree with you Cllr Parker, but they don’t. That’s life.”

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Responses to Local Plan Part 2 Moves to Next Stage, Despite Environmental Concerns

  1. Daniel Hill Reply

    June 18, 2022 at 10:56 am

    Cllr Bigmore, the man who is keen to work with developers at Ash Manor to help them get the most out of the Local Plan.

    Sadly, it may be true that the majority of the council chamber doesn’t agree with Cllr Parker but I think you will find the majority of residents do agree with her and GGG policies.

  2. Jules Cranwell Reply

    June 18, 2022 at 12:28 pm

    Another missed opportunity by Residents for Guildford Town, as I call them, to ensure the Local Plan is environmentally sound.

    Yet again they disappoint residents.

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