Letter: Affordable Housing – It’s Not As Simple As Giving Up Green Belt

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If affordable housing is so important to the Lib Dem/Con coalition why have they built so few council houses in the last five years? These are the only truly affordable houses

From John Robson

In response to Gordon Bridger’s opinion piece: Affordable Housing Is Vital To Maintain Our Prosperity.

Affordable-Housing 2If the UK’s population has increased by ten million it’s a fair assumption that more people will be in work so I am not sure anyone should wear uncontrolled migration as a badge of honour.

We have no manufacturing base, the Conservatives dismantled it in the eighties. Tebbit told us to get “on our bikes”, we’re still pedalling, and that’s why the South East is now the overcrowded epicentre of England.

Successive Governments have failed to diversify our economy and repair the towns and cities devastated by crass, vindictive economic policies. The net result – we’re unable to withstand our banks catching a cold and thus held to ransom by faceless, unaccountable institutions… Dave’s mates.

If growth and housing is top of Guildford Borough Council’s (GBC) agenda why did they take Labour Government to court in 2010 to stop them building on the greenbelt? Was housing less critical five years ago than it is now?

If we cannot recruit teachers and nurses due to housing shortages why are our schools and hospitals bursting at the seams, who exactly is staffing these facilities and what will be like with 13-15,000 more houses?

Most people I know who live in the South East commute. This liberal view of the world where people walk, cycle and skip the two miles to work through the garden neighbourhood is pure fantasy, PR spin. Don’t believe the glossy brochures designed with the offshore buy-to-let landlord in mind.

So all of a sudden the green belt is the only option, why now? Why is it ok to sanction the decimation of the greenbelt that was once sacrosanct to our older generation who have seemingly enjoyed the fruits of it but now decide it can be dispensed with?

One word… opportunity. This is what the developers and university have been waiting 30 years for, a chance to maximize their return on what was bought as arable land or green belt, aided and abetted by GBC and anybody who will champion their cause.

With respect, everyone’s entitled to their opinion but the Honorable Alderman appears to be going out of his way in dumbing down the benefits of the green belt in order to satisfy the agenda of property developers and the university, as once again we have the old “89% green belt” argument regurgitated. Say it enough times, they’ll believe it.

Statistics: England has only 13% greenbelt left, once the enormous profits have gone to an offshore hedge fund or into bonuses and pension pots what will we be left with?

Finally, its apparent to me that the developer friendly “economically viable” wording that has been strategically placed into the draft local plan by the developers will ensure they will deliver nowhere near 40% affordable housing and since when did Guildford’s councillors and planning department “negotiate”. If you had a robust local plan, why would you need to?

But the 40% is pure fantasy. GBC know it, that’s why they wrote it, and the developers know it. Once they’ve moved onto detailed design and uncovered some “unforeseen costs” all percentages will be forgotten, so what did you give your gr££nbelt up for?