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Open Letter: It Is Time the Council Addresses the Mistakes of its Predecessors

Published on: 26 Jun, 2020
Updated on: 26 Jun, 2020

From Karen Stevens

Save Hog’s Back campaigner

An open letter to GBC councillors

See also: Guildford ‘Strategic Sites’ Riddle After Whitehall Abandons Plans to Widen A3

To GBC Councillors,

I have written to each and every councillor about the need to review the Local Plan and to do so as a result of the omission of the A3 widening scheme from the government Road Investment Strategy programme.

The reason for writing to you and your fellow elected councillors and not to the Council Planning team was because most of you did not vote through the Local Plan (which was rushed through just days before the election) and because you were voted in on your promise that you would indeed review the Plan.

It is therefore disappointing that those promises have been ignored and the official response to my letter has been drafted not by individual councillors, but by the planning policy manager Stuart Harrison.

I therefore call on you to ask yourselves the following questions:

i) What motivates me to ignore this request for a review of the Local Plan; and
ii) What motivates me to ignore promises made when I was elected?

I feel that the only moral decision councillors can make is to direct their officers to look again at the Local Plan and to reduce the excessive housing supply (which is at least 40% above the OAN) – not to explore ways in which the unpopular Plan can be kept alive at any cost.

The council’s “disappointment” that the government is no longer advancing the A3 scheme speaks volumes. Why would residents want the noise, pollution and blight of a six-lane motorway through Guildford in order to unlock huge housing developments that will put even more traffic on the local roads?

The people of Guildford want a Local Plan that regenerates the town centre, reduces congestion on the roads and protects important landscapes and the environment. The current Plan fails on all three counts.

Whilst a wholesale review of the Local Plan may not be advisable on the grounds that it risks an even higher housing requirement, it should be possible to delete those sites that are no longer viable on traffic grounds and still meet Guildford’s current “Objectively Assessed Housing Need”. After all, the possibility that the A3 widening would not receive government funding and that consequently, some strategic sites might not go forward was the council’s argument for having such an abnormally high housing supply buffer in the first place.

Sites such as Blackwell Farm would cause traffic nightmares even with the A3 widened and the Council has already commissioned studies which demonstrate this (see GBC’s Mott MacDonald report Study of Performance of A3 Trunk Road Interchanges in Guildford Urban Area to 2024 Under Development Scenarios, April 2018).

It is time the council addresses the mistakes made by its predecessors rather than clinging on to false hopes and scrabbling around for traffic solutions that cannot be found.

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Responses to Open Letter: It Is Time the Council Addresses the Mistakes of its Predecessors

  1. Ian Campbell Reply

    June 26, 2020 at 2:24 pm

    The Local Plan will need a review. It looks 15 years ahead. Then what happens?

  2. Jules Cranwell Reply

    June 27, 2020 at 7:28 am

    Well said Karen Stevens. It is unfortunate that, after a huge rout of the Tories in Guildford, their successors in charge at GBC are still refusing to listen to residents, who care passionately about the future of our borough, and our countryside in particular.

    It is patently obvious that they have not learned from their predecessors’ mistakes, and the voting public will remember.

  3. Ted Hebington Reply

    June 27, 2020 at 1:54 pm

    I have lived in Park Barn and worked in Guildford for over 40 years and I have run, and currently walk, around the Manor Farm, Blackwell Farm area through to Wanborough. I cannot believe the Guildford Local Plan and especially the plan for the Hog’s Back area, which is supposed to have been drawn up and agreed by educated people.

    It has been proved on numerous occasions that building and widening roads does not cure congestion it just moves it. Leave green spaces, woodland and farmland alone.

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