GGG Latest

Catch up on the latest news, issues and events regarding Guildford Greenbelt Group.

The green belt in England is being sacrificed to build new housing at the fastest rate for two decades, according to environmental campaigners. The number of homes planned for the rings of protected land around towns and cities has risen by 150,000 in a little over a year. Almost 425,000 are now due to be built in the green belt, up by 54 per cent since March last year, according to analysis of local authority plans by the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE).

Communities face a postcode lottery over how much of their countryside is blighted by new homes because some councils fail to use powers to protect it, research has found. 

Some local authorities choose to protect their green belts but others accept much higher housing targets and allow developers to build on environmentally valuable land.

The different approaches mean some areas are being earmarked to have thousands more homes than necessary, according to research by the Campaign to Protect Rural England.

Councils are planning more than 360,000 homes on England’s 14 green belts, which are rings of protected land designed to prevent urban sprawl.

Susan Parker, leader of GGG, challenged Guildford council Executive to fundamentally review its proposed Local Plan. "This council urgently needs a Local Plan which is fit for purpose. GGG has argued - since before the first draft of this plan came to consultation - there are fundamental problems here. 32,000 replies to the last consultation confirmed the people of Guildford agree with us and meant that the plan had to go back to consultation."

Only last year my colleague Sajid Javid, the Communities Secretary, stood up in the House of Commons and described the Green Belt as ‘sacrosanct’. It was the right word to use.
Despite vowing in the Conservative 2015 Election manifesto to protect the Green Belt, all the signs coming out of Whitehall are that Ministers will use the new Housing White Paper to find a back- door route to concrete over our glorious countryside.

Wednesday, 11 January 2017 23:20

Greenbelt at mercy of developers say councils

Most councillors in green-belt areas believe that the land will be given over to housing in the next five years.

A survey for the National Trust found that 58 per cent of councillors agreed the land would be lost, compared with 51 per cent of those asked the same question in 2013.

Tuesday, 27 December 2016 16:49

Development Hell

Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty are not naturally beautiful if built on

High Court win for a parish council over its district authority has big implications for rural housebuilding schemes.

A parish council has a won High Court fight against its district authority that could decide the future for rural house-building in England.

East Bergholt Parish Council, Suffolk, brought a test case against Babergh District Council over home plans in the parish that inspired one of Britain’s greatest artists.

Today (Dec 9) the High Court ruled the district council’s planning decision to allow 10 homes to be built in East Bergholt, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, was flawed as it did not take account of the village’s needs – as set out in Babergh District Council’s own local plan.

Councils are being offered “bribes” worth hundreds of millions of pounds to build homes in the green belt, campaigners have said.

The government has promised to pay councils a new homes bonus, typically worth £9,000, for each home they build — including in England’s 14 green belts, the protected land around cities where development is meant to be strictly limited.



  • £128m paid to East Hertfordshire district council to build 15,700 homes on green-belt land
  • £125m to Central Bedfordshire for 13,000
  • £68m to Guildford for 8,200
  • £45m to Birmingham for 5,000
  • £33m to Windsor & Maidenhead for 2,900

The timetable for the appeal [APP/Y3615/W/16/3159894] by Wisley Property Investments in the matter of Guildford Borough Council's refusal of planning permission for "Outline planning permission for the phased development of a new settlement of up to 2,068 dwellings" [15/P/00012] at Three Farm Meadows, Hatch Lane, Ockham has been released to interested parties.

Highways England [HE] opens consultation and want your views on their plans to improve the M25 junction 10/A3 Wisley interchange to tackle issues including congestion, capacity, safety, noise and environmental impacts.

Despite a looming deadline for all councils to write an up-to-date local plan by early next year — or face having it done for them — two in three have not yet adopted one. Green-belt councils such as St Albans, in the 14 rings around English cities where building is restricted to curb sprawl, are further behind: 70% of them lack one, according to exclusive data from planners at Nathaniel Lichfield & Partners.


So what is the government’s stance? Will it propose the rumoured swaps of ugly green belt for new protected land in its long-awaited housing white paper, now delayed until January? 


Monday, 28 November 2016 15:20

Greenbelt 'Swap Shop'

Ministers are preparing to relax the protection of green belt land as the government struggles to meet targets for housebuilding, it was claimed yesterday.

Sajid Javid, the communities and local government secretary, was said to be ready to encourage councils to allow more housing developments on green belt land provided that they created areas of protected land elsewhere.

Such a move, known as green belt swaps, would represent a huge change in planning policy and a shift by the government. It would provoke fury from environmentalists and countryside campaigners.

Sunday, 23 October 2016 23:48

Analysis of the planning crisis

Wisley is the biggest of four main sites in the green belt earmarked by Guildford council’s draft local plan, which together account for 58% of its proposed 13,860 new homes by 2033. They also include Blackwell Farm, next to the Hog’s Back, part of the North Downs, from which Jane Austen wrote that she had never seen the country “so advantageously” — but where the expanding University of Surrey plans to build 1,800 homes. The local response? Residents storming out of planning meetings with cries of “Shame on you”, and about 32,000 comments from 6,000 individuals on the local plan in July — among the highest in the country for such consultations.

This is the new green-belt inkblot test: do you see fields worth saving or development opportunity?
That does not include the “long-term strategic” land banks, which consist mostly of options on plots that developers do not own and where the planning process is yet to start. The big three housebuilders say they have almost 280,000 such plots lined up, but 
many more are unreported.
“Land that could be developed is stitched up with no transparency,” says Toby Lloyd, head of policy at the housing charity Shelter. “We don’t know how big a problem land banking is because it is such a murky market.”
Monday, 13 June 2016 22:36

Star Gaze while you can

New interactive maps from CPRE reveal England’s darkest and most light-polluted skies


The popular interpretation of this is it is all about supply. There just isn’t enough. That then makes the solution obvious to everyone: build more houses. “The way you get affordable homes is to build more homes,” says George Osborne, the chancellor. But once you start to look at things properly (and sign up to Uber) it is obvious that this isn’t quite right.

Look at rents. If there just weren’t enough places in the UK for everyone to live, rents would be rising as fast as house prices — and the rental yields that investors get wouldn’t be falling. That’s not what’s happening. Fathom points out that house price inflation has trumped rental inflation by 2.3 per cent a year since 2006.

The Housing and Planning Act 2016 is published today which will impact all communities involved in an emerging Local Plan, especially ones like Guildford.

Overseas speculators are driving up house prices in England’s largest cities by “gambling” on properties before they are even built.

An increasing number of premium developments in London, Cambridge, Manchester and other cities are being bought “off-plan” by investors who have no intention of living there or renting them, housing experts claim. The sole intention is to sell them on before they are built to take advantage of rising property prices.

Developers who want to build more than 2,000 homes on a former airfield in Surrey say they are considering their next move after the plan was rejected.

Guildford council refused the scheme for Wisley Airfield with 14 objections including transport, air quality and its impact on the green belt.

Wisley Action Group said the scheme had insoluble problems and it was delighted it had been refused.

Developer Wisley Property Investments said it could resolve the issues.

When appearing to not realise her microphone was still turned on, councillor Marsha Moseley made the controversial comments. A Guildford councillor has been filmed branding the public "a bloody rabble" during the heated Wisley Airfield development meeting.

Councillor Marsha Moseley also labelled residents "badly mannered", when chairing the debate on Wednesday evening (April 6).

Thursday, 07 April 2016 18:00

Guildford Local Plan - Unchanged Trajectory

Borough Council Issues ‘Significantly Changed’ Local Plan

Revised Local Plan Jun 2016Guildford Borough Council (GBC) has published its revised Local Plan that is intended to shape the future development of the borough over the next two decades.

In a statement a GBC spokesperson said that the revised plan contains: “…significant changes that reflect over 20,000 comments and questions received from local residents during the public consultation held in the Summer of 2014.”


Agency reportedly worth £1.2bn and brought in a surplus of £100m in 2012/13. The Government has quietly announced plans to privatise the Land Registry, on the evening before the Easter holiday weekend. The Conservatives previously tried to privatise the agency, which records and oversees all property transactions in England and Wales, during the Coalition government but were blocked by the Liberal Democrats. Chancellor George Osborne revived the idea last year as part of his plan to sell £20bn of assets by the end of this parliament. The agency has been previously valued at around £1.2bn and made a surplus of £100m for the public purse in 2012/13. 

The leader of the Guildford Greenbelt Group - Susan Parker, calls on Guildford Borough Council to scrutinize the all-important housing number suggested by property consultants GL Hearne. Councillors however, rejected the proposal for reasons which will leave many residents open mouthed. 

Setting a housing target for our borough is probably the most important decision Guildford Borough Council will take over the next decade.  How many homes should we build?

The decision will affect how our borough looks and what it will be like to live in for the foreseeable future. There will be no going back.

At the council’s Overview and Scrutiny Committee, last week, I proposed that the committee should scrutinize the assessment of housing need as set out in the the  Strategic Housing Market Assessment or “SHMA” and the derived housing target.

Opinion Logo 2That housing target will be used in the Local Plan. The next version, incorporating that target, will be published in draft form in April.  Read More


Developers would be allowed to build thousands of homes in the green belt in return for paying a levy to enhance the remaining land, under a proposal from leading landscape architects.

The levy would pay for creating parks and woodlands in England’s 14 green belts, which are rings of protected land around cities designed to prevent urban sprawl.

Something is wrong with the planning system, reports the Oxford Mail. Silly housing targets let developers get permission to build executive homes in rural villages where little, if any, expensive infrastructure, like new roads and schools, has to be paid for. Few existing residents can afford them and it isn’t going to create homes for our children. The Oxfordshire Strategic Housing Market Assessment is fantasy and not soundly-based or supported by robust and credible evidence.


Fairview New Homes are proposing to build on Green Belt land on Enfield Road (EN2 7HX).

For many years this land has been used for grazing horses and is the habitat for a wide variety of wildlife, including hedgehogs, bats, muntjac deer, pheasants, owls, woodpeckers and many species of birds. It also contains beautiful specimens of ancient oak trees and hedgerows.


Councils have a public duty to estimate housing need. Guildford has delegated this calculation to a property consultancy called GL Hearn. Guildford has not disclosed the detailed arithmetic and assumptions to show how the housing need for the borough was calculated and even professes not to hold a copy of the model.

Guildford's Code of Conduct pays lip-service to 'Openness', 'Transparency', and 'Honesty'. Failure to oblige contractors and consultants to disclose their calculations to the public is not consistent with these values. Nor is it an acceptable method of conducting public affairs. It is not consistent with the principles of good public procurement contracting. Failure to explain in detail the assumptions and arithmetic behind the housing need estimates which underpin the Local Plan is a dereliction of public duty.

GL Hearn apparently subcontracted the work to Justin Gardner Consulting. GL Hearn claims to have worked for some 250 planning authorities across England. Failure to disclose may therefore be widespread.

When queried with the Information Commissioner's Office, the ICO decision can be found here.

This has led local resident Ben Paton to initiate an online petition "Councils must publicly disclose housing need calculations in Guildford and across England" seeking local support to for Guildford council to reveal how the Objectively Assessed Need  in the West Surrey Startegic Housing Market Assessment was derived. 

Britain’s nine biggest housebuilders have landbanked 615,152 housing plots that have not yet been developed – four times the total number of homes built in the past year.

The top four firms – Berkeley, Barratt, Persimmon and Taylor Wimpey – also hold £947million of cash, according to a investigation by The Guardian.

Linden Homes’ controversial plans for the Weyburn Works site were thrown out byWaverley’s planning department, which cited 11 reasons for refusal in a notice byhead of planning services, Matthew Evans, published on Friday (December 4).

Read more 

To protect Surrey from unsustainable and inappropriate development, the following petitions have been set up asking Surrey County Council to do a more thorough job before responding when consulted,


This concerns the validation of information concerning traffic generation and flow submitted by developers prior to large scale developments, following their construction and occupation, to check that they had made the correct decision when consulted and that the data provided by developers is not flawed.


The first petition is to request that Surrey County Council undertake a proper investigation and site visit, and take into account local resident's submitted information before providing their consultee response,


and the second is to request that they validate the traffic data provided prior to development afterwards, and report on their findings.



Tuesday, 13 October 2015 16:02

Save our Museum

Have your say on the future of the Guildford Museum

Tuesday, 13 October 2015 15:33

GGG Review of Guildford Master Plan

Guildford Greenbelt's Review of the Guildford Master Plan


The government has a plan that’ll make it harder for us to find out what they’re really up to. They want to introduce fees - of up to £600! - for people who use Freedom of Information laws to find out the truth about what they’re doing. [1] But we’ve got 48 hours to have our say and knock these plans out of the water.

The government has been forced to hold a public consultation on their cover-up plan. They’re trying to keep this under the radar, and aren’t expecting many responses. [2] So if thousands of us feed in, we could overwhelm their consultation and topple these plans to make government information harder to get hold of.

Please could you take a few minutes to send a message to the consultation? It closes TODAY, so there’s just 48 hours left. There’s some suggested text to make it as simple as possible. Every single message we send will make it harder for the government to get away with this cover up.

Green Belt faces unprecedented threat of destruction, Sir Andrew Motion warns

Guildford Greenbelt group (GGG) welcomes confirmation of Green Belt protection in Hertfordshire

After a previous call-in decision was quashed in court, the secretary of state has accepted an inspector's advice that two developments in Hertfordshire should be rejected due to their adverse impact on the green belt and the area's character.


The EU is considering weakening its nature directives, and the RSPB, along with other environmental organisations, is urging everyone to fight this threat by taking part in the EU consultation. To add your voice, please visit


Save Hogs Back is now featured on the 38 degrees campaign website: It would be great if you would all sign this (it only takes a minute!) and pass the link around to your friends and family using the usual social media. If we can get thousands of signatures nationwide, GBC and the Government will have to take note.

The Village tidy up day was a great success!
Thanks were expressed to Linda Parker-Picken for organising the day and to the many volunteers who each donned a hi-viz jacket and armed with a litter picker and black bag, "tidied-up" the village paths and roads. Amongst them, borough councillor, Mike Hurdle, who did so with the help of a big smile!

Surrey County Council has recommended that plans to build more than 2,000 homes on Wisley Airfield be refused

Would you give up £275m to save your village? West Sussex farmer has done something so selfless and noble he has become a hero for Middle England

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2017 Guildford Local Plan

Guildford’s NEW local Plan has just opened for consultation. PLEASE RESPOND before 24th July 2017.  GGG has published its responses to Local Plan Policies here 

GGG Latest

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