An interesting roundup of how the Send campaign is going – which impacts on us all when it comes to the Local Plan

Dear Resident (Send Village)

I am writing to you with an update on what we have been doing to resist the development of Send’s Green Belt.
Posters

Send has become famous for its posters. They have made a huge impression on the “Powers That Be”. The voice of Send is being very clearly heard by GBC. They know that Send is not going to give in and allow its Green Belt to be developed and have its roads and infrastructure overwhelmed. Thank you all for displaying yours in your front garden. These posters are a continual and forceful  reminder that “The Fight Goes On”until GBC categorically remove their threat of developing over the village. If you no longer want to have a poster please do not throw it away because they are quite expensive. We would ask you to either keep it stored or return it to Doug French at Heath Farm in Tannery Lane. His contact details are tel: 222935 and email: dougandsuefrench@hotmail.com. It is almost certainly going to be needed again at the next stage of the campaign in 2015.

Flyers

Our last flyer entitled “A NEW TOWN CALLED WOKEFORD” was delivered to every household and has captured the  imagination of residents as to what could happen if the development proposals go through. Such as an additional 2000 houses in the village plus another 10 factories plus 11,800 cars going through the village every day. However some say we are exaggerating the proposals. The sad fact of the matter is that we are not, indeed we are only repeating what GBC have included in the their draft Local Plan and are basing our figures on standard planning metrics.

Local Plan Forum

I have been invited to represent the Save Send Action Group  at the Local Plan Forum at GBC. The idea of the forum is that it will gather feedback on the Local Plan proposals on a regular basis from representative groups within the Borough and its output should hopefully find its way into the a “New” Local Plan. The first meeting had 27 attendees including the Leader of the Council Stephen Mansbridge, the Chief Executive and the Head of Planning and Head of Development. There was a lively question and answer session as the Council Officers went through the progress so far, the evidence base and the evidence update being undertaken. I asked a number of questions but in particular asked them what was the progress of GBC as a facilitator of brown field development in Guildford as an alternative to developing on the Green Belt (eg proactive site assembly and residential schemes along Walnut Tree Close). I was assured by the Leader that it was GBC’s intention to focus on developing brown field sites. I really do hope that this is the case but somehow I have my doubts!

Status of current draft Local Plan

It would appear that the objections to the draft plan have been so numerous and significant that due to the impending local election in May the Executive of GBC has “set aside” the current Local Plan till after the election. The new Plan will be open for consultation in June 2015. If I was a cynic I would say that a political party that has become embarrassed by a catalogue of errors in the Local Plan process is now trying to kick the offending plan into the long grass! On a practical basis there is a huge vested interest in GBC representing a Local Plan that is not a whole lot different. We must be prepared for another round of protest. Perhaps an alternative is to vote the Guildford Green Belt Group into office when it comes to the Borough Council elections in May. At least we can then be certain that there will be no reneging on undertakings to protect the Green Belt?

It needs to be understood that despite protestations from central government, Councils up and down the country have been given licence to operate on an ‘executive’ system which allows decision making on weighty issues, ie  The Local Plan, to be decided by an elite, selected by the Council Leader, ‘of just THREE chosen councillors including him or her self! This undemocratic process is supported by a withdrawal of central funding to local councils for infrastructure etc and monies for this can be raised from a levy (CIL) and a share of uniform business rates on any development. Furthermore Councils have been advised to go to developers to progress the rate of building to accommodate the NATIONAL, not LOCAL need.  This absolves central government from responsibility, allows them a pat on the back for kick starting GROWTH and gives ambitious  Councils and unpopular but potentially profitable ventures to go ahead. In property terms it has nothing to do with social or affordable housing. It allows potentially a massive surge in development in Greenbelt and Greenfield areas under the aegis of GROWTH and supposedly supported by local communities in CONSULTATION. There is too much vested interested interest for this to die quietly after the first round.
Guildford Green Belt Group (GGG)
GGG are now a fully fledged registered political party under the leadership of Susan Parker who is featured almost weekly in the Surrey Advertiser and is a significant thorn in the flesh of the ruling party at GBC. and they are currently preparing their manifesto for the local elections in May. They are now looking for candidates as Borough Councillors in the majority of Villages INCLUDING SEND. Why not stand? If you want to take up the challenge and really defend the Green Belt please email mikebruton@hotmail.com. I have been asked but have had to decline due to continuous travel commitments. There is an introduction seminar for new Councillors at GBC in January. The GGG constitution states:

  • Brownfield land should be used for building before any green fields
  • Housing numbers must reflect real local need, not developers’ wishes
  • Existing legal protection for the Green Belt and the AONB should stand
  • Green fields matter – they are not just building land
  • The Metropolitan Green Belt is for the benefit of all
Meeting with Terence Patrick Borough Councillor for Send

Hugh Thomas and I met Terence Patrick at his invitation at GBC to discuss the development proposals in Send. He said that he personally did not want development at Send and that GBC was having a major rethink about the Local Plan because of the amount of objections received and also because of the realisation that many villages such as Send did not have sufficient infrastructure (roads etc) to warrant development. I sent an email confirming the details of our discussion and after some delay received a response which confirmed in writing his desire to withdraw the development proposals on Send’s Green Belt.

Dear Mr Patrick
 
Thanks for the meeting at GBC today with myself and Hugh Thomas which was useful. To summarise the meeting points:
 
1. We note that you are strongly opposed to the development on the Green Belt in Send whose infrastructure in your opinion is already crammed to capacity. Your opposition extends to all the proposed named sites in the Plan and also all the inset areas so that effectively Send would remain in the Green Belt.
2. You in many ways regret the appointment of Pegasus who have not served GBC well in preparing the Local Plan and you would be prepared going forward to consider the establishment of an “independent”  Forward Planning Unit at GBC that takes control of the Local Plan process without going out again to more consultants.
3. You would like to work with the Save Send Action Group to monitor the future development proposals of Send and would like to come to the next Group meeting at 7 pm on 6/1/15 at Hillcroft Vicarage Lane.
4. You will ask  the proposed Local Plan Forum to extend an invitation to join to myself  and Hugh Thomas.
5. You intend to take action in January 2015 before the election to announce major revisions to the Local Plan in response to Pubic opposition particularly from Send.
 
I should be grateful if you could confirm that the above is an accurate summary of our meeting.
 
We are grateful to you for your support in maintaining the Send Green Belt and preserving the amenities of the village.
Kind regards
 
Andrew Procter
Dear Andrew

I am totally in agreement in the points raised in paragraph 1.

I agree that Pegasus did not perform well, when it was given the task of drawing up the original draft local plan.   I am prepared to put forward to the Executive your suggestion of establishing an ‘Independent Forward Planning Unit’ at GBC to take control of the Local Plan process.   However, I must point out that although it seems a good idea that GBC should have adopted in the first place, it is not automatically in my gift but I will undertake to raise it at the appropriate forum.
I am also happy to attend your next group meeting on January 6th.
As the Lead Member for Green Belt protection, I can confirm that there will now be a total re-examination of the draft Local Plan.   As I have already said to you and Hugh, I want to see all these development proposals for Send dropped altogether, for the simple reason that the village is already crammed to capacity and I don’t want to see either Send or Send Marsh ruined for its residents or future generations.   We expect a flooding study of the Borough (including Send) to be completed in January, followed by a Surrey County Council highways and infrastructure study in either February and March.
I have and continue to have every sympathy with your ‘Save Send Action Group’ because much of the same sort of nonsense development has been threatened in West Clandon, with proposals to build a secondary school on a totally unsuitable site.
When we met on November 21st, you kindly gave me some ‘Save Send Action Group’ cards and one of your highlighted matters of concern was the Governance of the Borough Council.    You may be interested to know that the Borough’s Governance arrangements are currently under review by a Scrutiny Task Group and I attach a Press Release on the subject that was issued today, focussing on the Task Group’s proposals, with paragraphs on the three different models of Governance that can be adopted.
With Kind Regards,
Cllr. Terence Patrick
(Borough Councillor : Send Ward)

Emails

In a campaign such as this the most valuable single resource we have is the email addresses of residents. Simply because we can communicate with you immediately at the touch of a button. So far we have gathered a huge amount of email addresses but there are 1700 households in Send with probably an average of 2 emails per household so we need many more! I guess we need a minimum of 1500 emails. Has anyone got some bright ideas how we can achieve this. All communications are done discretely;  your email will never be communicated to others. Needless to say if you do not want to receive any more emails from the Save Send Action Group please let us know and we will delete your email from our list.

Ripley Farmers Market

We have had a stall at the last 2 Ripley Farmers Market.

Website – www.savesend.info

Hugh Thomas has developed an excellent website please use it to find out more about what is happening. The website is different to the previous website which was entitled www.savesend.wordpress.com which is a private blog run by Dave Burnett.

Fund raising

If you want to support us financially please contact our Treasurer Gail Wicks on maybankes@gmail.com.

Democratic petition

GGG has now reached 2500 for the whole of the Borough but still need another 2000 signatures. Please download the petition at www.guildfordgreenbeltgroup.co.ukand ask all your adults over 18 in your household and your neighbours to sign upThe petition will change the way the Council is being run so all Councillors get a vote in future and we are most unlikely to have a repetition of the type of Local Plan that was pushed through in an undemocratic way in 2014.

Thanks for all your valuable helpThe fight goes on.

HAVE A VERY MERRY CHRISTMAS AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR

Kind regards

Andrew Procter