The Local Plan – A Time to Reflect

A letter from: The Guildford Dragon News

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From Jules Cranwell

Now that the consultation period for the local plan has ended, the last minute chaos and extension notwithstanding, it is time to reflect on what the result may be, and the impact of the finalisation of the Local Plan.

Having been copied on a large number of responses, from individuals, residents’ associations, and parish councils, the overwhelming tenor has been:

1. By law, green belt boundaries may only be amended if exceptional circumstances are  demonstrated. 2. Housing need does not constitute exceptional circumstances. 3. Brownfield sites are sufficient, and must be exploited, before any green belt is sacrificed. 4. The housing target of over 13,000 if excessive: it must be radically overhauled, and reduced.

I have not seen single response that does not object to the draft plan in its entirety.

There is also significant disquiet form many on the plan to add additional green belt to the west of the borough, in Ash and Tongham, whilst proposing to destroy much of the green belt to the east, with 16 villages proposed for ‘insetting’, or rather removal from the green belt.

Many respondents have noted the total lack of any evidence of “exceptional circumstances”, which are required for any area of green belt to lose, or gain, green belt status. Given that 50 per cent, being the four most influential executive councillors, are from Ash and Tongham, the public can be forgiven for suspecting undue influence has been brought to bear, on this aspect alone.

It has also been noted that an entirely disproportionate amount of development is proposed for the east of the borough. For example, a 40 per cent increase for West Horsley, compared with five per cent for Ash and Tongham, and two per cent for urban Guildford.

Jules Cranwell is a leading member of the Guildford Greenbelt Group

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