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Weyside Urban Village Planning Application Should Be ‘Deferred’ Says Former Councillor

Published on: 19 Oct, 2021
Updated on: 19 Oct, 2021

By Hugh Coakley

After many years of discussion and controversy, the Weyside Urban Village development is finally to go before Guildford Borough Council’s planning committee for approval this Wednesday (October 20).

However, former Conservative Guildford Borough Councillor, Christian Holliday, said councillors were being asked to “rubber stamp an incomplete application” and he called for the application to be deferred.

Referring to the council’s proposal in the planning application to delegate to a council officer “authority to make changes to the wording of the committee’s decision”, Mr Holliday added: “Delegating a decision of this magnitude for determination by others essentially removes the scheme from proper democratic scrutiny.”

A plan of what the Weyside Urban Village could look like.

The 400-page outline application is for up to 1,550 homes, retail areas with a convenience store and healthcare, community and nursery. It includes a new council depot replacing the existing one on the Woking Road and six Gypsy and traveller pitches.

An associated application is also being presented for a change of use of 45.9 hectares of land at Burpham Court Farm for a public open space and nature reserve thereby creating a Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace [SANG].

Weyside Urban Village land use plan.

But there are significant areas, such as the fate of Bellfields allotments and provision of water infrastructure for the development, which are yet to be decided as well as outstanding objections by National Highways, Surrey County Council and others.

Subject to approval by the planning committee, the council has proposed to address the outstanding detail by delegating to a council officer “authority to make changes to the wording of the committee’s decision…. where necessary in consultation with the Chairman of the Planning Committee and lead Ward Members for Stoke Ward“.

The councillors for the Stoke ward are Angela Gunning (Lab) and James Walsh (Lab).

Cllr Walsh, speaking on behalf of Guildford Labour Party, said they were concerned about eroding “democratic accountability. Councillors must have a role should any changes be deemed necessary”.

He added: “We are determined that the new development provides the right type of top-quality, well-built homes. Done correctly, this will be a real enhancement to Stoke ward and to Guildford at a time when more homes are essential.

“However, ‘done correctly’ means that we must get a minimum 40% affordable housing – with no haggling over numbers down the line – and that the entire site is properly integrated with the existing Weyfield community.”

3D view of the planned Weyside Urban Village (Design and Access Statement) showing indicative heights of the buildings.

The Guildford Dragon NEWS asked the council: “How dependant is funding for the project on a positive decision by the planning meeting on October 20?” The council responded saying: “We will be issuing a press release after the [planning] meeting, when a decision on the planning application will be made. It will include information on funding.”

The council’s lead councillor for regeneration, John Rigg (R4GV, Holy Trinity), said: “The planning committee will this week, review the Weyside Urban Village planning application based on its merits. Along with many aspects of the proposal, such as environmental impact, comments from the result of the consultation with residents and interested bodies, will result in suitable planning conditions being applied if the application is approved by the planning committee.”

The council has applied to the Secretary of State to take around 77% of the allotments at the Bellfields site. After a long campaign by Save The Bellfields Allotments against losing their plots to the development, Alastair Watson, spokesperson for the group, said they would accept whatever decision is made by new Secretary of State, Michael Gove, on the fate of the allotments.

Alastair Watson said: “The Save Bellfields Allotments group have put forward their views. At no point have we objected to housing development. Our issue is simply the application of the statutory requirements defined under the law. If those requirements are met, we accept the decision. If not, then GBC also needs to think again and enter into a constructive dialogue and find a solution that protects our rights and allows progress towards needed home building.”

The Guildford Conservatives, Guildford Greenbelt Group and the Guildford Allotments Association have also been asked to comment, but none have replied so far.

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test One Response to Weyside Urban Village Planning Application Should Be ‘Deferred’ Says Former Councillor

  1. Jim Allen Reply

    October 19, 2021 at 9:11 pm

    The 404 pages includes the statement an allotment appeal to the secretary of state is being prepared for early 2022, meaning the June 2021 appeal must have been quietly refused or dropped.

    As for funding the 90 million must be complied with by April 2022.

    In 2005, I said the whole project was devoid of rationality and reason. After reading all the documents in 2021, I see no reason I should change my mind.

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