Guildford faces housing crisis if Local Plan does not create new homes

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According to the borough council Guildford could face a housing crisis if the Local Plan does not create new homes – on greenbelt land

housing houses guildford

6:00am 22nd April 2016


It says the lack of current suitable homes is adding to congestion on local roads – and the area needs a sustainable development that focuses on building homes of the size and type that residents are looking for.

It wants 1.6% of green belt land to build on.

The council says the lack of homes is also affecting employers – as it pushes people to take jobs outside of the borough, nearer preferred residence.

Councillor Tony Rooth, Lead Councillor for Housing and Social Welfare, said there are three key concerns which need to be confronted:

  1. “Firstly, the supply of smaller and more affordable properties is seriously below the level needed.

  2. “Secondly, we must make best use of land available for housing hence the Council’s firm policy of brownfield first.

  3. “Thirdly, urban land covers no more than nine per cent of the borough, giving little room for growth without including a small part of the Green Belt that stretches across 89 per cent of our borough.

“We feel we can achieve our goals with just 1.6 per cent of land taken from the Green Belt and allocated for development.”

The Local Plan claims to balance the needs of all residents, businesses and visitors and protect the borough’s most important countryside, landscapes and heritage in planned, pragmatic and sustainable ways.

It requires at least 80% of new homes to have one, two or three bedrooms to ensure the borough has all types and sizes of homes for all parts of the community, supported by suitable infrastructure including transport, education and healthcare.

A revised version of the plan was published on April 5 having considered over 20,000 comments and questions received from local residents, businesses and organisations during the most recent public consultation.

Many sites in the borough, including some in the Green Belt, have been reviewed in detail to determine their suitability for housing.

Only those that meet strict criteria have been included in the Local Plan.

Each site will still require full planning permission, allowing further scrutiny.

Once adopted, all future planning applications will be considered in line with the Local Plan, helping to limit piecemeal and inappropriate developments that fail to address the needs of everyone in the borough.

A Consultation Statement will be issued in May highlighting the changes made.

Councillor Rooth says: “We live in a prosperous, but expensive, borough which is seriously short of affordable housing.

“Average house prices here are about £450,000 and the private rental market is equally costly – you just have to look at prices on local estate agents’ particulars for sale or to let to understand the issues.

“Many people who work in the borough, including essential workers such as teachers, nurses, police officers and carers cannot afford to live here, whether in bought or rented accommodation.”

“We need a practical and balanced approach to housing across our borough.

“We have an adequate supply of prime rural houses but a serious shortage of smaller more affordable homes, which may become a crisis if decisive action is not taken.

“We will lead the way to increase the much needed number and type of housing through the Local Plan. The Council has also taken charge of improving our travel infrastructure through the Transport Strategy 2016.

“The Local Plan aims for 40% of new homes to be affordable.

“The borough also needs many smaller homes available for all ages and needs. The young looking for a first home, older ‘empty-nesters’ wanting to downsize and stay local and those wishing to move or work within the borough are hindered by the current limited choice of modest size homes.”

The revised Local Plan will be considered at Executive and Full Council meetings in May 2016.

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