What the local GBC Parish Councils and Resident Associations feel about the draft Local Plan

Click ‘here to read the Guildford Parish Forum Survey results were as instigated and compiled by Ms Fiona Curtis together with her letter to local MPs and GBC: 

Dear  Members of Parliament and Guildford Borough Council Executive

In an effort to gain an overview of opinion of the Local Plan for those outside the town of Guildford,  a short survey has been conducted, this went to 22 out of 24 Parish Councils. [Chairmen of Puttenham & Tongham do not have listed email addresses]. Parish Councils were also invited to forward the survey to any Residents Associations in their Parish.
The results are attached and have just been published on the newly formed Guildford Parish Forum
Thirteen Parish Councils (PC) responded, and all six of the Residents Associations (RA’s) – 19 OUT OF 28
I hope you find the results useful. You will see that clear patterns have emerged from the survey, these are listed below;

95% could see no benefit in the draft plan for their parish 

No-one felt that GBC was reacting well to public opinion

89% of parishes said the documentation is too complicated

89% would prefer to see decisions made by an elected committee (previous regime) to the current method (executive committee)

74% were dissatisfied with levels of notice given for feedback 

2 out of 19 felt that GBC information was completely impartial (i.e. the majority felt information lacked impartiality, much of the time)

 

The level of concern about the Draft Plan as it is today will hopefully not be underestimated. Feedback from meetings and other forums indicates lack of ‘buy-in’ or local support on some scale. The reasons have yet to be fully established (subject of future survey)  but it is clear that the majority are unhappy with the overriding premise of the plan (economic growth rather than meeting local need) and the contortions of evidence used to fulfil criteria to enable attainment of these goals. The NPPF is open to interpretation and Guildford’s exposition is at odds with ministerial advice on greenbelt as well as planning by appeal, which GBC widely presents as a significant and real threat whilst ministerial advice suggests the reality is that less than 1% of appeals are approved this way.
This smoke and mirrors approach to empowering the community is clearly not working and has resulted in wide spread dissatisfaction in the process and loss of trust in the individuals attempting to promote it. The discontentment is felt by residents, Parish Councils, and local groups (including town based groups with whom we intend to share information). To start the process with ‘it’s not whether we will build but where we will build that you have a say in’ was not a great start (Parish Council intro to Local Plan at Millmead). Similar statements were also recently made in the press.
In my experience Parish Councils are not prone to over-reaction, and I hope the results of this introductory survey will encourage you to consider how community opinion can be used constructively to achieve improvements with consent rather than dissent.
Kind regards
Fiona Curtis
 
To
MP A Milton, MP P Beresford, MP J Hunt, MP J Lord
Guildford Executive Committee
Copied to
Guildford Borough Councillors
Chris Mansfield
Parish Councils
Residents Associations
Guildford Groups (GRA GGG Gsoc. GVG)