Council pledges to protect Guildford’s green belt land in revised local plan

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Guildford’s local plan will address the needs of the borough for housing, infrastructure, education, retail and leisure and transport through 2033

Guildford‘s long-awaited Local Plan will give “major consideration” to the protection of the green belt, according to the borough council.

The council’s revised local plan was published on Tuesday (April 5) containing “significant changes”, with the council saying it has listened to more than 20,000 comments and questions received from residents during a public consultation held in the summer of 2014.

Councillor Paul Spooner, leader of Guildford Borough Council, said: “The local plan is important for everyone who lives, works or visits the towns, villages and countryside in Guildford borough.”

He continued: “We are lucky to be in one of the most beautiful and prosperous parts of the United Kingdom.

“We are working hard to protect and enhance the area while meeting our future obligations for new homes, retaining and creating jobs, addressing our transport and infrastructure needs, educating future generations and protecting our culture and heritage.”

The council had identified a number of key points the local plan will seek to address, including:

With 89% of the borough within the green belt, the council says major consideration has been given to protecting this land through a “brownfield first” approach.

In total, 1.6% of greenfield land will be taken from the green belt and allocated for development with a greater emphasis placed on protecting Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).

Cllr Spooner said: “We received a tremendous response during the public consultation and every comment has been considered. It shows the strong interest in the future of Guildford borough and the pride of residents about this region.

“We listened to opinions and have changed the plan considerably to take account of feedback. In May, we will also publish our response to all the comments made.”

‘Planned, realistic, sustainable’

The local plan covers the borough’s needs until 2033 and seeks to meet the governments National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) that calls for sustainable growth.

This includes meeting targets for housing, employment, retail and leisure and the borough’s infrastructure for education, healthcare and transport.

The local plan states that 40% of new homes proposed for the borough will be affordable for low paid workers.

The council claims this will mean more workers can live closer to work in the borough, helping with recruitment and reducing traffic congestion.

A consultation statement will be issued in May highlighting the changes made to the plan as a result of the consultation.

Major amendments include a reduction in the total number of development sites, three new secondary school locations, greater consideration of flood zones, identification of traffic hotspots, locations for improvements where there is heavy congestion, and planned improvements to the A3.

Cllr Spooner said: “We need to meet the future needs of Guildford borough in planned, realistic and sustainable ways. However, we must also protect everything that makes the borough a great place.

“I strongly urge everyone who has an interest in this borough to look at the plan in full and see how we wish to improve this area over the next 15 years.”

The revised local plan will be considered at a special meeting of the borough, economy and infrastructure executive advisory board on April 13.

The executive and full council will consider the plan in May. You can find out more about the local plan here.

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