Guildford Dragon Letter:
From Neville Bryan
What a difference a year makes. It really is a year since I was shown my first document on the Local Plan, and I have to admit I am hooked.
Now it is two to three meetings a week, and literally thousands of pages printed and read, some even understood! Reflecting on this, I ask – where are we?
The answer is simple – frustrated. The 5,000 people who responded last November to the issues and options consultation, and were ignored too, probably share my feelings.
Everybody who turns up to local meetings – and I have personally seen about 1,500 residents over the last few weeks – still gasps when you first explain the impact and the sheer scale of this plan.
When you explain how the university has “land-banked” its Manor Farm site, given to them for expansion in 2003, the cries of foul abound – but GBC [Guildford Borough Council] still does nothing.
A full year on and the first presentation to the local residents associations [around Wood Street] was last week. We learnt that despite the SHMA [Strategic Housing Market Assessment] being proved wrong three months ago, this old data is still being used and promoted as fact by GBC officers and consultants. I shudder to think how many people have been misled by this.
We have all been asked to give feedback again, this time on 2,500+ pages of the Draft Local Plan and evidence base, in itself a near impossible task and worse when documents appears fluid, without proper change control, and when vital documents like the SHMA are missing.
A year ago I was a little worried. Now I am terrified, eyes open, and fully committed to expose this Draft Local Plan for what it is – a developers dream, and a nightmare for Guildford residents. The dire alternative is there for us all to see.
Every resident should be committed too. We need to keep going. We need to respond and give our views to the GBC consultation. A plan yes – this plan no!
Cllr Mansbridge appears to have made his mind up – his “trajectory” as he boasted the other week – is set. In effect he is saying we will build houses despite what the real evidence says.
I do not think so. In the end our views will count. As more people lend their weight to this, the views of the “silent majority” will win out, but (as a former blue voter myself) come May 2015, I suspect Guildford Conservatives will not.