With thanks from Guildford Greenbelt Group (GGG) Susan Parker we can report:
1. The Lib Dem motion for a return to the committee system was circumvented by Cllr Patrick who proposed the scrutiny committee looking at new forms of governance instead. So the three parties voted along strict party lines. The referendum will therefore be required, and GGG need lots of support for getting signatures.
During that debate Cllr Mansbridge spoke about the benefits of the Executive system. He also noted that there would be a local plan forum and he was having a meeting with Susan Parker chair of GGG to discuss it.
2. There will be another re-run of the 1st stage draft Local Plan consultation (i.e. the one we’ve just done over the summer, which is a formal consultation which will go to the Inspector) that will probably be next June. Which is of course after the next elections (both local and national).
In the meantime we can expect comforting words about how much Guildford Borough Council (GBC) care about the Green Belt until mid-May. The process cannot be accelerated because GBC have to wait for a transport infrastructure report which was not properly commissioned and will not be available until next year. They also need the new (combined) West Surrey SHMA. Cllr Mansbridge said at the meeting that Waverley and Woking are still disputing the housing numbers. There were comments from councillors suggesting that the housing numbers need might even be higher than the previous version, but comments from Cllr Mansbridge suggested that it is slightly lower.
After another consultation next summer there will be the final pre submission stage next autumn or before the end of the year. It goes to the inspector in 2016.
During this process GGG will seek representation as Councillors in the Borough Council in order to have a voice in the whole process, because otherwise GBC may again pose a serious threat to the green belt. No doubt GBC will listen now, but everything they promise now is likely to be a piecrust promise.
3. The Send petition to reduce proposals for additional housing in Send was voted down but there was much talk from councillors about how much they care about the Green Belt, and they have noted new guidance from ministers (isn’t this the same guidance GGG had been mentioning since March?). Some councillors noted that the position in Send could be replicated for any of the rural villages (Effingham, Horsleys, Worplesdone, Fairlands, Normandy) – which is fair, and is after all why we are all united on wanting brownfield development.
The best comment of the night was made by the Chairman of Send Parish Council in his closing speech, that the brownfield development is all proposed for years 6-10 so that the 1-5 year supply is all forced into the Green Belt.
Recognition was given by some councillors to the restatement of the government’s position on the green belt. A number of these however still voted in favour of Cllr Mansbridge’s amendment, effectively negating Send’s petition.
Para 6 of Cllr Mansbridge’s amendment as printed on the order paper, said “The Council does not accept that the draft Local Plan proposals will destroy the identities of Send and Send Marsh/Burnt Common” And yet within a few minutes of the meeting starting he expressed “regret” that para 6 was included in his own amendment. When did the Council change its mind and on what basis did it do so?
If Cllr Mansbridge changes his mind once he will think nothing about changing it back again…..