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Residents Associations Want Their Voice To Be Heard On Local Plans

Published on: 6 Nov, 2012
Updated on: 8 Nov, 2012

Graham Hibbert addresses a meeting of the Burpham Community Association on 22 October

Residents Associations (RAs) are concerned that the voice of residents will not be heard early enough on current local planning proposals.  

The consultation is not due to start until January. “This is too late” says Dr Hibbert,  who chaired the meeting on 17 October when representatives from some 20 Associations from across Guildford met to discuss how residents can best make their voice heard in the preparation of the upcoming Local Plan, which will chart the future of the Borough until 2030. 

Associations from across Guildford want the emerging Local Plan to seek imaginative solutions to some of the town’s long standing problems such as housing for local people, opening up the river frontage, tackling traffic congestion, and the need to divert through traffic away from the town, according to Dr Graham Hibbert, chairman of an Abbotswood Residents’ Association.

Dr Hibbert stated that “The new National Planning Policy Framework requires councils to work more closely with residents than they have done in the past and to ensure that residents’ views are captured much earlier in the planning process, before the start of the consultation phase. Guildford’s RAs are therefore now seeking meaningful discussions with both Councillors and Officers on the essential elements of this Plan.”

To help GBC understand RA’s views and to include them in the Plan to be issued for consultation, a growing number of RAs are supporting a paper entitled “Residents’ Aspirations for Guildford”, which is published today. The views expressed in the paper are also endorsed by the Guildford Society. A meeting is being sought with the GBC Executive and Officers to present the paper to them.

Mr Keith Meldrum, chairman of the Merrow RA, stated that “RAs from across the town want to work closely with the Council in developing the Plan and we welcome the recent statements from the GBC Executive that it intends to work more closely with residents than in the past”.

It is intended that the “Aspirations “ paper will make it clear that RAs realise that the Borough has to boost its economy but at the same time question whether a huge expansion of retail space, as indicated in the December 2011 draft town centre plan, would be the right direction for the town.

The paper also makes clear the RAs’ concerns that in granting permission for imminent developments, such as the Waitrose store off York Road, the North Street development and the redevelopment of land adjacent to the main line railway station, the Council may inadvertently rule out opportunities for solving Guildford’s traffic problems. For example, they may block off the possibility of constructing a second bridge across the railway.

Graham Hibbert commented that “The scale of the upcoming consultation makes it even more important that Guildford’s residents come together now so that our voice is heard early and more effectively by Councillors and Officers in a positive dialogue which covers the aspirations we all have for Guildford”.

Cllr Angela Gunning, (Lab, Stoke) said: ‘Whilst conserving green spaces and Victorian houses, and creating ponds etc are laudable aims, there is a glaring omission [in the paper from the Residents Associations]. No vision or aspiration for housing for the 3500 residents on our waiting list. Disappointing. ‘

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Responses to Residents Associations Want Their Voice To Be Heard On Local Plans

  1. Bernard Parke Reply

    November 6, 2012 at 9:24 pm

    Want to be heard?

    Then campaign for a Guildford Town Council!

    If Godalming, Haslemere, and Farnham have one why should the people of Guildford not also have their democratic right to be heard?

  2. Graham Hibbert Reply

    November 7, 2012 at 4:15 pm

    Councillor Gunning is mistaken in her disappointment. The paper calls for a plan to meet priority needs, which is the need for homes for local people as opposed to the impossible task of accommodating London overspill.

    It calls for GBC to unlock the Slyfield development which could take over 1500 dwellings many of which would be affordable. Why is GBC allowing this to be held up?

    GBC councillors may seek to exclude residents from the planning process by belittling their ideas. The vision for the town of the Residents’ Associations supporting the paper goes way beyond the items Councillor Gunning mentions. It deserves the serious attention of all councillors.

  3. Trevor Wicks Reply

    November 8, 2012 at 5:42 am

    Well said. I suppose we have our chance at the ballot box.

  4. Cllr Nick Sutcliffe Reply

    November 8, 2012 at 11:56 am

    We welcome the views of all members of the community as we develop the Local Plan for the next 15 to 20 years. Working closely with local neighbourhoods, organisations and businesses throughout the borough will help us to shape the new strategy. Our officers have met with residents associations in the past and we are always keen to hear their opinions.

    We will be asking for the views of the local community early next year, to establish the issues local people want us to tackle, and the different ways we can respond to these in this important plan for the future. Along with our other research and national planning policy, your views will inform the draft plan.

    Once this is drafted we will ask for further comments. We will publicise these consultations widely to give everyone an opportunity to have their say.

    Our aim is to prepare a strategy that, as far as possible, reflects a collective vision and agreed priorities for future sustainable development in the borough.

    If you are interested in finding out more, you can register to receive an email alerting you when each next stage of consultation begins. Please send us you name, email and postal address to

    We are also updating our community involvement in planning guide to help explain how people can get involved.

    Cllr Nick Sutcliffe, is the Lead Councillor for Planning Strategy and Policy

    This comment was requested by The Guildford Dragon NEWS but was received after the requested deadline.

  5. John Surrey Reply

    November 8, 2012 at 12:20 pm

    Housing? Surely fewer supermarkets and redundant retail developments would leave more space for town centre housing, wouldn’t it!

  6. Keith Chesterton Reply

    November 8, 2012 at 5:20 pm

    Why does Graham Hibbert call people seeking homes outside where they currently live “London overspill”?
    A large number of the people objecting to others coming from outside Guildford to live in the Guildford area themselves came from “outside”. A case of “Pull up the drawbridge, Jack. I’m alright”!

    This area is where jobs are and if people are going to contribute to this country, they need to move to where jobs are.
    There is clearly a debate to be had on how many homes we can provide in the Guildford area, but in a free society we cannot stop people moving.

    Localism is important but we can’t, nor should we want to, isolate ourselves from housing problems in the whole country.

    And on Slyfield, I agree a scheme here should be going ahead. My understanding is that the main problem is with Thames Water. They own a sizeable proportion of the land and are seeking rather a high profit margin from development, so are not willing to go ahead on the likely financial projections.

  7. Angela Gunning Reply

    November 8, 2012 at 5:45 pm

    Reading Dr Hibbert’s comments I wondered whether I was commenting on the same document. I have searched it again and could find no aspirations for housing for the 3500 on GBC’s waiting list. Of course, I don’t disagree with the aim to ‘Value the green and historic character of Guildford, and to ‘protect and enhance our countryside…’. Even if the Slyfield site was redeveloped tomorrow we could only hope for 1000-1500 houses. So what I would like to see is strategic vision for the homes we desperately need, and I am prepared to work to bring that about.

  8. Jim Allen Reply

    November 10, 2012 at 1:29 pm

    I agree with Graham Hibbert. Our ‘not so civil’ servants are not consulting with the community and are deliberately procrastinating until it is too late to have effect. The housing numbers are ‘interesting’. I have not seen more than ten actually homeless people in eight years of living in Guildford. There are many who would like to move from where they live to a housing association or council property but that does not mean they are actually homeless. Wanting is not the same as needing.

    As for where to build, if we take Burpham as an example, there is no land available, save our green spaces, nature reserve and Green Belt, so just where do the number crunchers believe these properties will be built? Setting a requirement of five years plus 5% of land supply (e.g. if 300 houses are built per year 300 x 5 = 1500 plus 5% = 1575) is acknowledged as an impossible target for some areas like Guildford. Incidentally, it will take 17 acres to move the sewage farm to meet current needs of Guildford. Another 2,000 houses will need a bigger area.

    It seems that our future at present lies in the hands of planning policy makers who do not like the idea that residents should have their say because they will have to work twice as hard to protect our town as to simply give in to faceless number crunchers in central government.

    Regarding the comment from Keith Chesterton, I would suggest he reads the South East Plan. It clearly stated that the housing need in Surrey was based on the figures for financial workers in the City of London and made no reference to the butchers, the bakers and the candlestick makers required to service these London workers.

    If they are not ‘London overspill’ then please let me know the definition.

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