02. Summary of Consultation Response

  1. GGG object to the Guildford Borough Council (GBC) Regulation 19 draft plan 2017 because it is not sound and the changes do not take account of our previous objections or indeed the 32,000 other valid comments that are shown on the GBC website and made to the previous 2016 version. 
  2. GGG have focused, as requested, on changes to which we find reason to object but this also includes some deletions which lack acceptable justification. 
  3. GGG request a confirmation by email from GBC that all of the objections to changes made below are put to the Inspector appointed by the Secretary of State to review the GBC Regulation 19 local plan 2017 and that all our previous objections to the 2016 draft plan will be placed before the inspector.
  4. GGG request again that once our objections are fully taken into consideration the draft plan is amended accordingly and re-issued before it is submitted to the Inspector.
  5. GGG are of the opinion that if the Local Plan is submitted in its current form it will be in risk of being summarily dismissed and put back to the Council for re-submission.
  6. Guildford is a constrained borough by the reality of having 89% of its area zoned as permanent Green Belt and an out of date road network that is already at capacity. We are concerned that GBC have adopted a lower but still grossly inflated OAN of 12,426 homes as a housing target without any application of constraints as required under the National Planning Policy Framework and the National Planning Policy Guidance. 
  7. 70% of the new development proposed in this plan is in the permanent Green Belt which was coincidentally invented in Guildford under a private Act of Parliament in 1938. It is perhaps ironic that the process of Town and Country planning has become a type of Town v. Country debate. 
  8. The population in the borough is split equally between town and country but Guildford town has developed very little over the last 20 years and has not undergone the type of normal urban expansion, redevelopment of previously developed sites and increase in residential densities as nearby towns such as Woking have experienced. It is informative that Woking is currently outperforming Guildford in terms of economic performance.
  9. It is interesting to note that urban densities in Guildford town are no higher than the villages that surround it. Even though the latter are in the main in the Green Belt which is protected from development and the former is in an area where there is no presumption against development. I am of the opinion we need a rebalancing between town and country and much more development in Guildford town, particularly residential development.
  10. In the latest plan only 1,300 homes are going to be built in Guildford town which is some 10% of the total development proposed. It is very disappointing that GBC fail to set higher densities for the urban area and have in this latest draft deleted all reference to “density for development” which is normally an integral part of forward planning and development control.
  11. GBC still fail to acknowledge that the application of constraints to housing need in respect of the Green Belt is a sensible and practical approach to development within the borough and is not only what they have done in the past in previous plans but is also what its neighbouring local planning authorities have done. 
  12. The current scale of the housing number proposed in this plan, which is based on a flawed SHMA, inevitably increases the onus for the plan to be seen to be sound.  A substantially lower number of 4,000 homes, on the other hand, would remove the need to build on Green Belt or open countryside, and instantly meet the single biggest public objection to the plan as a whole.  
  13. GGG are concerned that GBC have still failed to grasp the opportunity of following clear government policy to develop in the urban area on previously developed sites. Many of these sites are in their ownership and it would seem a practical and readily achievable alternative which is much more acceptable to local residents.
  14. In our opinion much of the updated local plan still appears out of date. It is like a voice from the past. Current trends in terms of property development such as the marked decline in town centre shopping centres and the need to create modal shift by developing residential uses close to transport hubs appear to have been overlooked. 
  15. Unsupported assertions that there is real demand for the expansion of retail, industrial or office space lack credibility especially in the absence of significant planned expansion of residential development in the town centre which is universally acknowledged as a key stimulant for urban economic health.
  16. There would appear to be two worrying examples where GBC are taking the role of “developer/landowner” rather than “independent not for profit public sector planner” in so far that they have a pre-determined agenda for building on the Green Belt rather than acting as careful, professional and responsible planner guardians. Example 1: Policy A43 Garlicks Arch Burnt Common. The stated, albeit unproven, need by GBC is 400 homes. Normal residential density is 30 homes per ha. Land required would therefore be 13 ha. Land actually proposed to be allocated is 28.9 ha. This is more than double land required in beautiful irreplaceable Green Belt. Example 2: Burnt Common Policy A 53. The stated, albeit unproven need, is 7,000 sq m B1c, B2 and B8 development. Normal density 50% plot ratio. Land required 1.4 ha. Land allocated 9.26 ha. This is more than six and half times more land than necessary in valuable Green Belt which the planners should be looking after. 
  17. GGG regrets that our conclusion is that this plan is a clear example of bad planning.

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 

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