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Claim By Vision Group That Town Masterplan Is To Be ‘Abandoned’ Refuted By Lead Councillor

Published on: 11 Apr, 2012
Updated on: 28 Apr, 2012

Claims by the recently formed ‘Guildford Vision Group’ that in a “shock move” work to finalise the Town Centre Masterplan will be ‘abandoned’ have been refuted as inaccurate by the lead GBC councillor responsible for planning matters.

In a press release, the Vision Group claim that the Council intends commissioning urban design consultants to prepare an ‘Interim Town Centre Framework’ document in conjunction with the Council’s planning policy team.

The Group’s statement continues: “The Council’s Executive will be asked to adopt the Interim Framework Document in just over three months’ time without the Document, we understand, being put out for public consultation. As all the evidence needed to support the Document’s conclusions will not be available by the 19th July meeting the Council have announced this new planning policy document will itself be scrapped in 2013 and superceded by a final ‘Town Centre Framework Document’.

“At this stage one can only speculate about the Council’s motives in seeking to put an alternative planning policy document in place by July when we are told that document is only intended to have a shelf life of just one year. We intend to find out why the Council continue to focus narrowly on development in the town centre to the exclusion of the surrounding town and without offering any solution to or safeguards for the town’s endemic traffic problems.

With the publication of the National Planning Policy Framework on 27th March the coalition Government has made it abundantly clear that every Council’s urgent priority should be the creation of an up-to-date Local Plan delivering sustainable development that reflects the vision and aspirations of local communities. We will continue to press for that outcome.”

A spokesman for Guildford Vision Group said: “ We are delighted that the efforts of the Guildford Society and many others have resulted in the Council recognising that their draft Masterplan was fundamentally flawed for a number of reasons, not least its failure to address Guildford’s appalling infrastructure problems.

Jenny Wicks, Lead Councillor for Planning and Development at Guildford Borough Council, responded forcefully saying that the Vision Group’s press release is: “Well wide of the mark.”

She added: “In fact, work to finalise the draft Town Centre Masterplan is not being abandoned – it will be finalised with the assistance of consultants, which will result in a short delay in what was always a very ambitious timetable. The draft has already been the subject of public consultation and the comments made in response to that consultation are being taken into account in the preparation of the final version.

“The consultation revealed that the term ‘Masterplan’ had given rise to confusion, so it has been decided to alter the name of the document to ‘Interim Framework’ to avoid that confusion.

“Since there is a considerable amount of relevant planning policy work (e.g. transport modelling) being carried out in the next year it was always envisaged that the document would need to be revised and updated in about a year’s time.”

Internal correspondence on the subject, seen by The Guildford Dragon, indicates that the urban design consultants are being appointed, “due to the level of interest and depth and content (sic) of many of the responses generated by the last consultation”. It continued that the extra work would necessitate time tables to be, “extended by two months to allow us to undertake further work with consultants…” and concluded, “I’m sure you will appreciate that this will help us to produce a quality plan for the future.”

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test 2 Responses to Claim By Vision Group That Town Masterplan Is To Be ‘Abandoned’ Refuted By Lead Councillor

  1. Gerald Bland

    April 12, 2012 at 6:27 am

    …If Jenny Wicks wants to describe the new plan as the old plan reworked we are not going to pursue the issue as we care a great deal more about getting the right plan and the right result. Fortunately the people of Guildford increasingly realise there is a great deal more at stake here than mere semantics… See more in ‘Readers Letters’

  2. Bibhas Neogi

    April 14, 2012 at 9:00 am

    Without proper planning to deal with traffic problems, development investments by Guildford Borough Council and others could prejudice future solutions and make them more expensive and difficult to achieve. Piecemeal developments would not return the best value for money. See ‘Readers Letters’ for full comment…