Fringe Box



Local Plan ‘Will Tackle Potential Housing Crisis’

Published on: 20 Apr, 2016
Updated on: 20 Apr, 2016

Guildford Housing House NumberGuildford borough faces a housing crisis if the demand for more suitable homes is not tackled soon according to a council (GBC) statement.

The statement continues: “The area needs sustainable development focused on building more homes of the required size and type.”

Cllr Tony Rooth, lead councillor for housing and social welfare, said: “Our borough has a serious housing shortage and three key concerns must be confronted.

Cllr Tony Rooth

Cllr Tony Rooth

“Firstly, the supply of smaller and more affordable properties is seriously below the level needed. Secondly, we must make best use of land available for housing hence the council’s firm policy of brownfield first. Thirdly, urban land covers no more than nine per cent of the borough, giving little room for growth without including a small part of the green belt that stretches across 89 per cent of our borough.

“We feel we can achieve our goals with just 1.6 per cent of land taken from the green belt and allocated for development.”

GBC is hoping to avert any potential housing crisis, through the Local Plan which, it says, will balance the needs of all residents, businesses and visitors. It will also, it claims, protect the borough’s most important countryside, landscapes and heritage in planned, pragmatic and sustainable ways.

The revised Local Plan was published on April 5, having considered morfe than 20,000 comments and questions received from local residents, businesses and organisations during the 2014 public consultation.

According to the statement: “The plan is also supported by detailed evidence using the best advice and forecasts available. A ‘consultation ctatement’ will be issued in May 2016 highlighting the changes made.”

Cllr Rooth continued: “We live in a prosperous, but expensive, borough which is seriously short of affordable housing. Average house prices here are about £450,000 and the private rental market is equally costly – you just have to look at prices on local estate agents’ particulars for sale or to let to understand the issues.

“Many people who work in the borough, including essential workers such as teachers, nurses, police officers and carers cannot afford to live here, whether in bought or rented accommodation.

“The lack of suitable affordable properties means many must commute into the borough adding to congestion on local roads. It also makes them susceptible to taking jobs nearer to home, creating employment recruitment and retention issues for employers across the borough.

“The Local Plan requires at least 80 per cent of new homes to have one, two or three bedrooms to ensure the borough has all types and sizes of homes for all parts of the community, supported by suitable infrastructure including transport, education and healthcare.”

Cllr Rooth emphasised: “The Local Plan aims for 40 per cent of new homes to be affordable. We need a practical and balanced approach to housing across our borough.

“We have an adequate supply of prime rural houses but a serious shortage of smaller more affordable homes, which may become a crisis if decisive action is not taken. The council has also taken charge of improving our travel infrastructure through the Transport Strategy 2016.”

Once adopted, all future planning applications will be considered in line with the Local Plan to limit piecemeal and inappropriate developments.

Asked if a house at £300,000 should be deemed ‘affordable’ Cllr Rooth said: “That would require a total income of £50-60,000. It is jolly difficult to make it affordable to less well paid employees.

“I think at the moment the only real affordable housing for younger people without really well paid jobs, almost, is in the rented sector but because of limited supply we have high rents too. We have to increase the housing supply.

Tory Green Belt promise 1

Conservative election newsletter in May 2015

In response to the question won’t voters, who read Conservative election promises to protect the green belt, feel the promises are being broken, Cllr Rooth said: “I am very much attuned to the green belt.

“But in a borough like Guildford where our population has gone up by about 20,000 in the last 30 years, where we have a lot of attractions like the ‘University of the Year’ and good jobs, there is a lot of pressure for housing.

“What we are doing, as much as we can, is to restrict the amount of green belt to be used. The potential development [green belt] sites amount to 4 sq km, so it’s a relatively modest amount of green belt that may be built on.

“We are trying to ensure that it is in the less attractive parts, according to green belt criteria of openness etc. That is why the Blackwell Farm proposal has been reduced from 3,400 down to 1,800 houses. We are doing our level best.”

Cllr Susan Parker

Cllr Susan Parker, GGG leader

Cllr Susan Parker, (GGG, Send), leader of the Guildford Greenbelt Group, said: “There is a need for genuinely cheap housing. However, the government definition of ‘affordable housing’ means homes at 80 per cent of market prices. This is not affordable.

“We are being asked to lose 1.6 per cent of Green Belt – although presumably it’s more than this, since I’d guess the new green belt around Tongham will reduce the net total. How much is really being lost?
“It’s interesting that the consultants were stressing how much green belt was being protected, about 10 days ago. When it was pointed out in the press that only around 30 per cent of new housing was in the urban area, they now stress that this use of rural land is due to affordability and so the green belt must be sacrificed.
“Don’t they realise that they are being inconsistent?
“Genuinely cheap homes for younger teachers, nurses, police officers or carers could be provided by tied – work related – housing.  However, this will not be on offer. Instead meadows and ancient woodland are being carved up so that developers get cheap land, which they will hoard in land banks until they can make a good profit.”

The revised Local Plan will be considered at Executive and Full Council meetings in May 2016. For further details and to view the revised plan please click here.

Share This Post

Responses to Local Plan ‘Will Tackle Potential Housing Crisis’

  1. Lisa Wright Reply

    April 20, 2016 at 3:12 pm

    Surely 4km squared is about the size of Guildford now. That looks an awful lot of unnecessary development on green belt to me, especially when there’s such a lack of affordable housing in town.

  2. David Raison Reply

    April 20, 2016 at 4:52 pm

    I agree with Cllr Parker re the hoarding of land by the developers. There are unlikely to be many low-cost homes built in the Guildford area any time soon. Perhaps the council should seize the initiative and build the houses themselves.

  3. Stuart Barnes Reply

    April 20, 2016 at 6:16 pm

    I note that there have been 20,000 comments and queries submitted. For information, how many of those comments/replies were in favour of building on the green belt and how many against?

    I think that the answer to that question would be of great interest to many people.

  4. James Maxwell Reply

    April 20, 2016 at 6:41 pm

    Why is it so difficult for these people to see what the problem is?

    From simply reading the above you can see that where you build, people will come, to live or to work. You build and create jobs in an area then people will want to live here of course. So then you reason that more houses should be built so they can live where they work. So you build more houses, and on the green belt it appears. Families will grow and they will need jobs and so on and so on.

    Then say, oh dear we now have another 20,000+ people looking for homes, let us build more.
    This will eventually mean that when we are all dead and long gone everywhere will be built upon and only in history books will they be able to read about the old countryside.

    Stop building and people will get the message and go elsewhere. What has happened to the Great Northern Powerhouse? – That was also a great Conservative initiative not long ago.

    Keep building in the South then we will eventually tip up and sink.

  5. Jules Cranwell Reply

    April 20, 2016 at 7:49 pm

    I’m getting pretty fed up with GBC’s spin about “only 1.6% of the greenbelt”. This is deliberate obfuscation, which we have come to expect.

    1.6% may sound very little, but in reality, GBC proposes to build 70% of the new homes in the green belt. This is not where essential workers will need or find affordable homes. They need to be near the hospitals, police HQ, etc.

    Building anywhere in the green belt will only satisfy the voracious appetites of the developers. Forget the spin about 1,2,3 bedroom houses. GBC cannot compel developers on this, as they will make most profit from executive 5-6 bedroom houses.

    Forget the spin about 40% affordable homes. Developers almost never deliver on this, and often deliver none. GBC has allowed them a ‘get out of jail free’ card on this, as they only have to argue that a particular scheme would not be ‘financially viable’ if affordable units are included.

    With regard to having “considered 20,0000 responses to the daft local plan”; rubbish! Almost nothing has changed since the previous version, apart from the spin. Ash/Tongham is getting new green belt, while the rest of the borough is being asked to sacrifice theirs.

    By the way, the Tory election newsletter did not read: “GREEN BELT TO STAY (apart from 1.6% of it)”. It said: “GREEN BELT TO STAY”.

    GBC’s pronouncements on the revised local plan are 1.6% fact, and 98.4% spin.

  6. Roland McKinney Reply

    April 21, 2016 at 5:28 am

    Your headline could have been “Local Plan will Create Infrastructure Crisis” – which is what it will do.

    Since more than two thirds of the proposed houses are to be built on green belt or green fields just how does this solve a problem with people commuting? These new houses will not be near Guildford’s employment centres, and so people will have to use cars.

    Think of Wisley as just one example of what this housing programme will mean – tens of thousands additional cars on the roads. And traffic is just one element of overstretched infrastructure – doctors, hospitals, schools, etc, will all be at breaking point.

    All because GBC have manipulated housing numbers to suit their “build, build build” programme, without regard for the consequences.

  7. Ben Paton Reply

    April 21, 2016 at 7:26 am

    First we were in the midst of a housing crisis. Now its been downgraded to ‘a potential’ housing crisis. GBC’s reports on the ‘crisis’ are as reliable as long range weather forecasts.

    The spin reminds me of the ‘near and present danger’ of WMD [weapons of Mass Destruction] in Iraq used to justify the second Iraq War. Tony Blair was sure they existed. But after the war no one could find them.

    The objective facts in the ONS [Office of National Statistics] statistics do not show that there’s a housing crisis – unless you are a developer looking to justify building on green fields.

  8. Lisa Wright Reply

    April 21, 2016 at 4:35 pm

    Is there 3,000 people on the council waiting list? Is that 3,000 families or 3,000 individuals?

    There’s a big difference in GBC needing 3,000 houses or needing homes for 800-1200 families?

  9. Klara Kinder Reply

    April 25, 2016 at 6:32 pm

    People on the council waiting list aren’t necessarily currently without at home.

    Quite frankly I don’t believe we need any more council house development in Guildford. Half the people I know who live in them are cheating one way or another.

    While there are many people who truly need the help, there are many who just take advantage of the system and could very well afford to pay full rent like the rest of us.

  10. Valerie Thompson Reply

    April 26, 2016 at 9:28 am

    If the council had not sold off most of it’s rented properties and insisted that the University of Surrey build on its own land, rather than filling small houses with students, there would be a reduced need for cheap homes.

    Councillor Rooth also claims GBC is using brownfield sites first…not for housing, we understand, but for industry, businesses, shops and offices, which will, as James Maxfield points out, lead to an even greater demand for houses in the area.

Leave a Comment

Please see our comments policy. All comments are moderated and may take time to appear.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *