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Opinion: The Local Plan is Vital for Guildford – Vote Conservative

Published on: 18 Apr, 2019
Updated on: 22 Apr, 2019

This is the fourth of a final set of opinion pieces from the five political groups which currently form Guildford Borough Council (GBC) during the period running up to the borough council elections.

We are grateful to all the participants for taking part. Our aim is to allow our readers to hear from local politicians directly and become better informed of the political choice they have on May 2. Articles from the other political groups are being published, one each day, this week. All previous articles in the series can be found here.

Bob Hughes

By Bob Hughes

Later this month Guildford Borough Council meets to consider whether to adopt the Local Plan. This is the culmination of some eight-years’ work from councillors of all parties supported by a very experienced planning policy team within the council, consultation with groups and people from across the whole borough.

The plan is vital for us all and will ensure that the infrastructure we need to tackle the issues we face today is in place. It has been achieved at significant cost to all of us as ratepayers.

Any plan is bound to have elements that some people didn’t want, and some people are playing on that to say that the council are acting with unseemly haste in approving it this month before the local elections. They are flying in the face of the facts and they are trying to persuade people to play a game that could even be dangerous for Guildford.

The truth, and this is backed by high-level legal advice, is that whether the plan is considered before or after the elections does not change the decision that has to be made. The line that some are peddling is that some changes could be made, or this or that site could be added or taken out. None of that is true.

People might find it instructive to view the webcast of the Council meeting on Tuesday, April 9, notably the legal advice given in the meeting by James Findlay QC, a leading planning barrister.

The plan, having been agreed by the inspector, is the only plan available. Even if a new administration were elected on May 2, and they decided not to adopt the plan, they could only do so by mounting a legal challenge saying that the plan is wrong in law. They would have to prove that the independent inspector acted illegally and, frankly, that is highly unlikely as demonstrated recently in Waverley and elsewhere.

Not approving the plan could have toxic consequences. The stark fact is that the outcome of the proposals of those who claim to want to protect the character of Guildford would be to deliver development decisions into the hands of the developers with your elected Councillors having no say over what should be built.

The target for new housing build would be likely to increase as we would lose the transitional arrangements currently protecting us. This would put many green belt sites across the borough at risk, including many sensitive sites which your Conservative council succeeded in having removed from the plan.

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Responses to Opinion: The Local Plan is Vital for Guildford – Vote Conservative

  1. John Perkins Reply

    April 20, 2019 at 11:10 am

    A combination of “my way is the only way” and a mini Project Fear.

    Do these people not understand that justifying a scheme by employing lawyers who say it’s ok will never have any appeal to those who think in ways other than the strictly legal?

    Threats that it will be worse if people won’t knuckle under have little or no positive effect either.

  2. Colin Cross Reply

    April 23, 2019 at 8:23 am

    Consultation by the Tories was illusory throughout this process and there is no substantive evidence that any significant changes were introduced due to public input.

    This is a Westminster-led plan that cares not a jot about its horrendous long term effects on every aspect of Guildfordians quality of life, whether in the town or country.

    I am unaware of Mr Hughes ever being a feature of the local political scene until his sudden arrival in the last few weeks. Certainly, his grasp of the true state of affairs in Guildford Borough appears scant, with a heavy dose of wishful thinking to make up for any reality deficit.

    Can we know a little more of Mr Hughes credentials prior to being asked to consider his pontificating as being of any merit?

    Colin Cross is an Independent (R4GV) candidate for Lovelace (Ripley, Wisley and Ockham) in the borough council elections to be held on May 2.

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