Various comments have been made by our political opponents about GGG and the fact that there is the word “greenbelt” in our name. It has been suggested that this means we want to build everywhere else. This has been said with particular regard to Ash, Tongham, and Cranleigh by our opponents (and please note, those opponents belong to parties that advocate building in those areas). However, we see the word as shorthand for “green belt, countryside and green fields”.
Why did we use this name? It sounds quite catchy, it was the name of our original campaign group, and most of all it was acceptable to the Electoral Commission as a party name (unlike alternatives that we proposed and that were rejected over a period of five months). GGG as a party has grown out of our original campaign group, which was set up to respond to Guildford’s Local Plan, but it does have broader concerns. For the avoidance of doubt, it is not GGG policy to build on any green fields, in Ash and Tongham or Cranleigh, or anywhere else. We are interested in protecting all green fields, not just land with green belt status.
We do consider that the assessment of housing “need" within the borough prepared for the Council at the initiative of the Executive has been seriously overstated. We know that the current Council has in the past chosen not to apply any constraints to that number, as they could have chosen to do. We want to agree a sensible calculation. Housing need in the country is real, but much of the housing need in the South East is in London and can be met by London’s own supply, especially if there is the political will to restrain overseas investors who leave properties empty. The scale of the problem of empty properties is huge. The problem is not that homes are not built. The problem is that too many of the homes that we are building are left empty.
With a much lower proposed number for housing need locally, we think that all the housing our borough requires can be accommodated as low‐ or medium‐rise development within the current urban and settlement areas (without extending settlement boundaries). We believe all housing that we need can be sited on brownfield land. We don’t believe there is any need for high‐rise development anywhere in the borough, we don’t want garden‐grabbing, and we don’t see the need to build on green fields. We do not advocate building on green fields anywhere, and this is one of our core principles. We see this as an environmental commitment in local terms, and we are the only party to make this commitment. All other parties have expressed concern about the green belt, but they have done so in half‐hearted terms and in response to political pressure. They have no commitment to, or passion for, protecting our countryside.
All GGG members ‐ and all our candidates ‐ sign up to core principles which include:
- Green fields matter ‐ they are not just building land
- Brownfield land should be used for building before any green fields
- Housing numbers must reflect real local need not developers’ wishes
These core values, as well as being part of our constitution, our membership application and our candidate’s application form, are also incorporated within our manifesto.
Our manifesto commitments also state that we will:
- Prepare a completely new local plan based on real local needs
- Implement a brownfield‐first housing policy using previously developed land before green fields
- Work to change the National Planning Policy Framework with a local democratic right of veto over major projects
- Stop urban sprawl
- Protect the countryside and urban green spaces
- Give power back to parish councils and local residents by seeking and respecting their views
We care about the countryside – and we are the only party that is committed to protecting it.