Fringe Box



Opinion: The Local Plan Is Not Fit For Purpose

Published on: 30 May, 2016
Updated on: 31 May, 2016
Cllr Susan Parker, leader of the Guildford Greenbelt Group

Cllr Susan Parker, leader of the Guildford Greenbelt Group

By Susan Parker

leader of the Guildford Greenbelt Group at Guildford Borough Council

The draft Local Plan isn’t fit for purpose.

Guildford wants and needs a plan that meets local needs rather than presenting a centralised, pro-development agenda, ignoring infrastructure demands and environmental consequences.

We care about our air quality, our water, and the fragile and beautiful ecosystems that surround us. We are concerned about our local biodiversity and our carbon footprint. We think sustainability means ensuring that what we do will not damage the planet for future generations.

In the longer run, our environment is most significant to us, our children, and our grandchildren – and for everyone beyond this area too. As part of the Metropolitan Green Belt, our countryside plays its part in controlling the urban sprawl of London.

Opinion Logo 2Our green belt has huge environmental benefit for the city in terms of air quality, for water quality, and for flood management. This area is also extremely important as London’s playground. The Olympic cycle routes, and Prudential Ride London, run through our beautiful villages every year. We have Duke of Edinburgh camps and day visitors.

None want to come to visit a housing estate – which in turn has implications for the local tourist trade, itself of major economic significance.

The Tory majority, who control our council, campaigned at the last local council elections on a platform of protecting the green belt. They have now decided on a policy which will put almost 10,000 homes on either current green belt or open countryside beyond the green belt in the current Local Plan. This is a blatant betrayal of their election promises.

A small minority of homes will be built in the urban area, because most of the brownfield land available is earmarked in the Local Plan for warehouses, factories and industrial zones. We think this is a mistake. Too many homes are proposed. The calculations of housing need have been kept totally secret, and Guildford Borough Council has refused to permit public scrutiny of the calculations.

We do believe in building genuinely less expensive housing either for sale, rent or part buy/part rent We think this could be accommodated on the brownfield land in the borough.

We don’t need more shops and offices. The term “affordable” is corrupted and dishonest- the legal definition means  80% of market value. These Executive homes built on open countryside as a result of this local plan will not be considered ‘affordable’ by many teachers, nurses or care workers or by those on average incomes aspiring to buy a home.

Many local businesses have flagged that resulting congestion and overbuilding will actually damage the local economy, and make this a less desirable area in which to live. This – like the strength of feeling in the Tory heartlands – is being ignored or dismissed by the current Executive.

The current Local Plan is going out for public consultation, and we would urge all concerned residents to comment on the plan. Guildford Borough Council is hoping for voter fatigue on the Local Plan but it is vital to respond. The planning inspector can take all these views into account from this stage of the consultation.

If you have already expressed your views, in previous consultations, please make sure you do so again, or your views will not be heard. This can be done by emailing, writing to Guildford Borough Council, or using the online questionnaire.

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Responses to Opinion: The Local Plan Is Not Fit For Purpose

  1. Michael Bruton Reply

    May 30, 2016 at 2:29 pm

    In 2010 and 2015 the Tories stood for election in Guildford – promising to protect the Metropolitan Green Belt. Having felt conned once in 2010 I chose not to be conned again in 2015. Mrs Parkers’s phrase above, “a blatant betrayal of their election promises,’ about sums up Tory behaviour in Guildford and Cameron’s behaviour nationally on green belt/countryside protection. The PM described green belt protection as a “line in the sand”. Some line, some sand.

    The Tories nationally and locally have taken their natural supporters for granted and appear to many as enemies of the countryside. Guildford Tories, like major construction companies, may hope for voter fatigue over objecting to the Local Plan – which differs very little from the Mansbridge/Juneja initial Local Plan. It is vital therefore that we write to make our views known to

  2. Brendan Laing Reply

    May 30, 2016 at 7:00 pm

    Well done Susan, totally agree with you.

  3. Paul Bishop Reply

    June 1, 2016 at 2:06 pm

    Do the GGG have any other opinion beyond ‘don’t touch our greenbelt’? Maybe the reason people voted for the conservative councillors was nothing to do with what they say about the greenbelt, but maybe because their party have more substance to their policy than just protecting fields.

    Whilst the green belt is one aspect that needs to be considered in the local plan, it should not be defining the future of our borough. We need a balance and a genuinely open mind, something the GGG seem to lack.

    • Lisa Wright Reply

      June 1, 2016 at 2:34 pm

      GGG campaign on grounds of pollution, congestion, the environment, protection of species and habitat, community health facilities as well as the green belt.

      If our green fields are destroyed you can expect all of the above to get drastically worse.

      GGG also campaign for affordable housing for our children and older folk on brownfield sites within the urban area, so there is easy access to facilities, shops and transport.

      • George Potter Reply

        June 1, 2016 at 10:06 pm

        How does, “GGG also campaigns for affordable housing for our children and older folk on brownfield sites within the urban area” square with its opposition to building on the disused graveyard on Stoke Road despite the fact that it would have provided both housing and improved community facilities?

  4. Mike Murphy Reply

    June 1, 2016 at 5:12 pm

    I hope Paul Bishop will keep his comment above to show your children or grandchildren. This will help him explain away how he encouraged these bullying Guildford councillors to give away their heritage of a “Green Lung” around London.

    Surely he can understand that once the green belt is gone you cannot replace it.

  5. Neville Bryan Reply

    June 1, 2016 at 9:10 pm

    True GGG first pledge was indeed to protect the green belt and green fields. They are for everyone. The main difference between that pledge and now is of course is GGG meant it, and if you’re watching, will see GGG councillors where rules permit, try to keep to promises in which we all believe.

    GGG know there need to be houses, and would be aiming to build appropriate, good quality housing in brownfield spaces, should the opportunity have presented itself, rather than follow this whimsical and ridiculous notion of massive retail expansion. It’s not as if GBC could not – as major land owners – build houses if their was a real will to do it.

    I do also wonder why when only a very tiny minority (34 – less than 3%) of people agreed with policy 10 in the draft local plan (i.e. to build on the green belt) why so many on these pages appear to support it.

    I really do suggest more energy should be spent on those who not are meeting their election pledges of “save the green belt”. In the commercial world you would get your P45 for such behaviour.

  6. Paul Spooner Reply

    June 2, 2016 at 6:50 am

    Mr Bryan should note that GBC are about to submit a significant planning application on brownfield in the town.

  7. Paul Bishop Reply

    June 2, 2016 at 8:22 am

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen a genuinely well thought out plan from the GGG showing how they would provide the right number of houses, good quality houses, purely using the brownfield sites. Can anyone point me to this plan that they have?

    All we hear is “we don’t need that many houses”. Well we do. I cannot get high quality employees to come to Guildford because of the housing prices. Well paid, highly skilled workers deserve good quality housing for their families to grow up in. I see no one showing a genuine plan on how this can be achieved without touching the green belt. Again, perhaps someone can show me if this is wrong.

    What I also find incredible from the GGG is that whilst they regularly spout how damaging building on the green belt is, their own leader lives in a house not just in the green belt, but smack in the middle of the Surrey Hills AONB.

    Seems that’s it’s OK for some to enjoy this privilege, but just not for others. Or maybe it’s just more ‘not in my backyard syndrome’.

    It’s all too easy to point fingers and complain, what we need from people like GGG is genuine solutions.

    • John Perkins Reply

      June 2, 2016 at 12:13 pm

      Surely it is the responsibility of GBC and no other body to produce plans for genuine solutions. After all that is what they were elected for and given power and funds to do.

      If high quality employees will not come to Guildford then perhaps they are not being offered enough. It may be the duty of local people to subsidise the housing of the low-paid, but the highly-skilled and paid should be able to look after themselves.

    • Jim Allen Reply

      June 2, 2016 at 6:26 pm

      Perhaps the answer is move the jobs to the people……rather than the people to the Jobs….

    • D Fassom Reply

      June 3, 2016 at 1:52 pm

      In reply to Paul Bishop:

      Last time I looked I didn’t realise that living in the green belt was a crime or a betrayal of one’s principals.

      As far as not getting any employees, it sounds like there is one simple reason – you are not offering them enough.

      By all means blame GBC for coming up with a hopeless plan, but please don’t point fingers at people who are trying to keep our environment from getting any worse, increasing traffic congestion, overfilling our schools and surgeries just to satisfy businesses to get cheaper labour.

      GGG is a voluntary organisation and last time I looked it does what it says on the tin, unlike the Conservative Party.

  8. Paul Bishop Reply

    June 3, 2016 at 12:22 pm

    It’s all too easy to criticise. If GGG have the solution to the problem, let’s hear it. If not, then accept compromise is needed.

    If high-quality employees don’t want to come to Guildford, one of two things will happen; Either, the employees take the job, but live further afield and drive into the town everyday – more traffic pollution, more trunk road use, more parking requirements.

    Or, the companies realise they cannot get the staff in this location and so they relocate, taking all the investment, employment (direct and peripheral) and skill away from the area.

  9. Valerie Thompson Reply

    June 3, 2016 at 10:47 pm

    Many houses were built long before the green belt or ANOB’s were designated.

    Some of them are ancient and listed, others more modern.

    But now there are such designations it is up to us to try to preserve beautiful places for the future, not build housing estates of either so-called “affordable” houses, or massive mansions to satisfy the greed of developers.

    • Paul Bishop Reply

      June 6, 2016 at 8:29 am

      This is exactly my point – it was fine to build in these areas years ago, but now because of an arbitrary designation, it’s now apparently bad.

      If only it were as simple as paying people more. Unfortunately the economics of business do not work like that. In any industry you need to be competitive in terms of product and also cost.

      GGG certainly do exactly what they say on the tin – unfortunately they don’t actually help with anything useful. Constant opposition without solution has historically never been a very successful party line, unless the party just wants to create headlines.

  10. Jules Cranwell Reply

    June 20, 2016 at 11:58 am

    A large number of people wrote in to object to the previous local plan. It proposed to remove 14 villages from the green belt. That plan caused such outrage that a petition was launched, requesting GBC to withdraw the plan.

    The “March on Millmead” happened at which hundreds of residents turned up to deliver the petition, and show their disgust.

    The architect of that plan was convicted of serious offences, including pretending to be a barrister, deception, and forgery.

    Then we had an election, and the Tories promised, in their manifesto, to protect the green belt.

    The new executive then published a revised plan, with hardly any changes, which still proposes to remove the same villages from the green belt.

    What happened to that promise? Conveniently forgotten or were we duped?

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