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Opinion: North Hertfordshire Planning Decision Has Implications for Guildford

Published on: 24 Oct, 2022
Updated on: 25 Oct, 2022

By Niels Laub

Dip Arch RIBA

The data on which the housing targets for Guildford are based is unsound and should be reviewed with immediate effect.

The local council continues to refuse to review the data on which the housing targets are based on the pretext that the council would be required to use the Standard Method for Calculating Housing Need (which is now a requirement of the National Planning Policy Framework) saying it would result in an even higher housing target.

The “standard method”, introduced in July 2018, uses a formula to identify the minimum number of homes expected to be planned for in a way that addresses projected household growth and historic undersupply.

It sets a baseline using 2014 Based Household Projections to arrive at an average annual household growth over a ten-year period and then applies a formula to take into account local affordability based on ratios published for each district by the Office for National Statistics (ONS).

In January 2017 the ONS took responsibility from the Department for Communities and Local Government (DCLG) for the household projections.

The aim of the transfer was to improve the consistency between the population projections (for which the ONS were already responsible) and the household projections, and improve their accuracy.

According to the Planning Resource magazine, a publication for planning professionals, a Planning Inspector has recently ruled that North Hertfordshire District Council should reduce their housing target in line with the 2018-based household projections which are more accurate, up-to-date, and which now supersede the 2014 household projections.

The article states: “In his report, inspector Simon Berkeley found the plan to be sound, subject to a number of modifications.

“Among the modifications is a reduction in the authority’s housing requirements.
Berkeley said that the objectively assessed need (OAN) figure included in the
submitted plan was based on projections from 2014 and has now been
‘superseded’ by the 2018 figure.”

If the housing requirement for Guildford were to be recalculated using the standard method, but applying the 2018 Based Household Projections rather than the 2014 Projections, the housing target for Guildford would be reduced to 149 dwellings per annum (rather than 562 dwellings per annum in the adopted Local Plan) which would result in no requirement whatsoever to release any of the green belt surrounding Guildford for development.

Surely it is time we all stood up and demanded an immediate review of the Local Plan which is clearly unsound and based on inaccurate and outdated statistics.

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test 9 Responses to Opinion: North Hertfordshire Planning Decision Has Implications for Guildford

  1. Jim Allen Reply

    October 24, 2022 at 3:12 pm

    These figures make rational sense for three reasons:

    1. the population of Guildford is predicted to reduce – Where are the 1,000+ people needing the homes each year coming from?

    2. the infrastructure simply cannot cope with 562 new homes per year, no generators, no treatment plant and drying out aquafers. Why do we need a hose pipe ban if there is an adequate water supply for an increasing population?

    3. no company has indicated it wants to move to Guildford and needs 1,000s of workers in the next 15 years.

  2. Ben Paton Reply

    October 24, 2022 at 8:45 pm

    Why is R4GV deaf to this rational analysis based on objective evidence?

  3. Peter Bennett-Davies Reply

    October 25, 2022 at 10:50 am

    This is a very important and powerful ruling by the Planning Inspector in his determination of North Hertfordshire District Council’s housing numbers.

    The ruling provides more ammunition for the fight the case against GBC’s overestimated housing numbers which if not revised to the correct level will continue to see the ruin of former green belt rural areas. The Horsleys have already suffered and will continue to suffer for many years from the housebuilding in the two villages, without any additions to necessary infrastructure facilities for over 500 plus homes.

    Thanks to Niels Laub for bringing it to the attention of Guildford Dragon readers.

  4. Valerie Thompson Reply

    October 25, 2022 at 1:32 pm

    Many of the R4GV councillors were elected on their well-publicised intention to revise the Local Plan. Why have they not done this? Were they actually elected on a lie, and they never intended to do it, or were they too lazy to put in the hard graft, or did they change their minds?

    Whatever their reasons for this abysmal failure, which has led to the devastating overgrowth of housing in some of the villages around Guildford, no one will believe their promises in future or trust them to run the council with sense and consideration of the people they serve.

    Let us hope that the protestors against the plan, who seem to have a greater knowledge of what is going on elsewhere, can persuade the GBC councillors to have the courage and decency to admit that the numbers of houses needed was wildly exaggerated and actually do something about remedying this situation.

  5. David Ogilvie Reply

    October 28, 2022 at 12:32 pm

    With the best will in the world there is no way that R4GV can undo the vast green belt give away of the last Tory council in their rushed-through Local Plan. For example, can you imagine the cost of compensating the owners of the Wisley site for the loss of profit on 1,700 homes?

    • David Roberts Reply

      October 28, 2022 at 5:12 pm

      Compensation wouldn’t arise; there can be no “lost profit” on homes for which there is no planning permission.

    • Jim Allen Reply

      October 28, 2022 at 5:31 pm

      Actually reading the NPPF [National Planning Policy Framework] the lost green belt must be held over until the next plan if not used this time, so there is zero chance of it changing back to green belt.

  6. Jules Cranwell Reply

    October 29, 2022 at 3:48 am

    Does the current executive at GBC, whoever it is this week, care nothing for the overwhelming demand from residents to fix this demonstrably flawed local plan. They are now in possession of the facts, and can no longer refuse to take action. They have been handed a legal precedent that if the housing number is flawed, the plan can be reviewed, and the number corrected.

    As to potential demands for compensation, Taylor Wimpey bought this land speculatively, without planning permission, in the knowledge that a previous submission was rejected on multiple grounds, so should have to live with the consequences of caveat emptor.

  7. Valerie Thompson Reply

    October 29, 2022 at 10:33 am

    It was peanuts compared with all their other projects elsewhere.

    Taylor Wimpey could be considered merely foolish for having assumed that just because the site was in the GBC Local Plan it was suitable for development: it is not. It is mostly prime farmland, and my opinion is supported by over 1,000 objectors.

    As far as I am aware, Taylor Wimpey do not have outline planning permission, let alone full planning permission for this land. They should not be given any compensation.

    GBC has a duty to the public to turn this application down once and for all.

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