I Was Worried About the Local Plan – Now I am Terrified

Guildford Dragon Letter:

From Neville Bryan

What a difference a year makes. It really is a year since I was shown my first document on the Local Plan, and I have to admit I am hooked.

Now it is two to three meetings a week, and literally thousands of pages printed and read, some even understood! Reflecting on this, I ask – where are we?

The answer is simple – frustrated.  The 5,000 people who responded last November to the issues and options consultation, and were ignored too, probably share my feelings.

Everybody who turns up to local meetings – and I have personally seen about 1,500 residents over the last few weeks – still gasps when you first explain the impact and the sheer scale of this plan.

When you explain how the university has “land-banked” its Manor Farm site, given to them for expansion in 2003, the cries of foul abound – but GBC [Guildford Borough Council] still does nothing.

Manor Farm Guildford Univercity

A full year on and the first  presentation to the local residents associations [around Wood Street] was last week. We learnt that despite the SHMA [Strategic Housing Market Assessment] being proved wrong three months ago, this old data is still being used and promoted as fact by GBC officers and consultants. I shudder to think how many people have been misled by this.

We have all been asked to give feedback again, this time on 2,500+ pages of the Draft Local Plan and evidence base, in itself a near impossible task and worse when documents appears fluid, without proper change control, and when vital documents like the SHMA are missing.

A year ago I was a little worried. Now I am terrified, eyes open, and fully committed to expose this Draft Local Plan for what it is – a developers dream, and a nightmare for Guildford residents. The dire alternative is there for us all to see.

Every resident should be committed too. We need to keep going. We need to respond and give our views to the GBC consultation. A plan yes – this plan no!

Cllr Mansbridge appears to have made his mind up – his “trajectory” as he boasted the other week – is set. In effect he is saying we will build houses despite what the real evidence says.

I do not think so. In the end our views will count. As more people lend their weight to this, the views of the “silent majority” will win out, but (as a former blue voter myself) come May 2015, I suspect Guildford Conservatives will not.

5 Responses to Letter: I Was Worried About the Local Plan – Now I am Terrified

  1. Adrian AtkinsonReply

    September 2, 2014 at 10:18 am

    I could not agree more with Neville Bryan.

    We have to make our views known and continue to tell as many people as we can about the process, the draft plan and what can be done. No matter what people say about “it’s a done deal” we must give our considered feedback.

    However, I too feel terrified and let down by a flawed process. We are in a consultation phase which has to take into consideration of what local residents say about the proposal. Yet the owners of the process seem to be indicating otherwise.

    Yesterday at one of the local Draft Plan events organised by GBC “to reach as many local people as possible – we want to hear from residents of all ages and backgrounds, businesses and local organisations. Make sure you are part of the plan” People are saying, that what struck them was the impression given by the people hosting the event that this was all a “done deal”. A clear impression was given that the GBC proposals would be implemented.

    What sort of consultation is that if the people attending these events leave the room with that impression. We must re-double our efforts and say that this can’t be a “done deal” because, if this plan is implemented, it will be a disaster for the borough in its current form.

  2. Adrian AtkinsonReply

    September 2, 2014 at 12:40 pm

    Another West Horsley resident had the same impressions from the communications at yesterday’s GBC Local plan event. She posted on “Streetlife”:

    “We also went last night to the GBC event at the [Send and West Horsley Cricket Club]. As others have said we were effectively told that it is a done deal. Additionally, we were told that:

    1.The overall target housing numbers are only going to be reduced down marginally.
    2.The likelihood is that all the proposed development sites will be required.
    3.Our responses are only likely to achieve minor tweaking of volumes between sites.
    4.It is just as important if we are saying do not build on plot ‘x’ to also say that instead they should build on plot ‘y’.”

    Indeed the trajectory has been set as we have been told by the council leader. However, let’s not accept the narrative from GBC representatives that it is effectively a done deal let’s make our points clearly by the 22nd Sept.

  3. Jim AllenReply

    September 2, 2014 at 1:11 pm

    Re. Policy 17 – Para 7 – I still cannot find in any legislation which supports “The need or legal right for the Local Plan – to allow developers to ‘develop’ without ensuring, by way of payment by them or agreed payment by someone else, the adequate installation of infrastructure for the location being developed.

    Human rights come into it…

    Article 8 Right to respect for private and family life

    1 Everyone has the right to respect for his private and family life, his home and his correspondence.

    2 There shall be no interference by a public authority with the exercise of this right except such as is in accordance with the law and is necessary in a democratic society in the interests of national security, public safety or the economic well-being of the country, for the prevention of disorder or crime, for the protection of health or morals, or for the protection of the rights and freedoms of others.

    So if Burpham sewers over flow (again) endangering my health due to the local plan failing to protect my health by knowingly failing to upgrade inadequate sewer capacity for a development then surely my human rights have been broken. As the plan endangers my personal health!

    Will we really need to go to these lengths before the authors of this Local Plan start listening?

  4. Nigel TrellisReply

    September 2, 2014 at 1:20 pm

    I would like answers to the following in connection with the Local Plan:

    1. Are GBC being compelled by central government to produce a plan that reflects government policies?
    2. If it doesn’t, will any plan probably be rejected when inspected by the Planning Inspectorate as has the Waverley plan?
    3. Is the plan being led, in reality, by GBC planning officers and consultants?
    4. What has been the process in other council areas, apart from Waverley, both locally and country-wide?

    As Surrey, even 20 years ago, had the most congested roads outside London and was talked about as being “over-heated”. So, would it not be wise – while ensuring that existing businesses can be sustained, and that there is affordable housing for local young people and those in the emergency and essential services – to otherwise encourage businesses and “unaffordable”(?)housing to be located in areas that need additional jobs and investment, and areas that also have the space? Perhaps what could be called an “offset housing” scheme?

    However, it seems to be all down to getting the biggest profit for the developers from where people and companies want to be, which will be this area! And it all seems to stem from a government policy of profit and growth at any cost and a general greed culture. From people who know the cost of everything and the value of nothing.

  5. Jim AllenReply

    September 2, 2014 at 4:10 pm

    The answers are:

    1/ yes the plan must follow/ enshrine the NPPF (National Planning Policy Framework) using the associated NPPG (National Planning Policy Guidance) as stated in policy 1 of the draft local plan

    2/ if it doesn’t, then yes it will

    3/ not sure if the tail is wagging the dog

    4/ much the same format.

    Next Paragraph – yes – common sense.

    Final paragraph – correct.