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Letter: The Council Paid No Heed to the Public Over the Local Plan

From Colin Cross

Lib Dem borough councillor for Lovelace

In response to: Residents Had No Real Influence Over the Local Plan ‘Trajectory’

Call the public “consultations” what you will, “a charade”, “smoke and mirrors” or just plain obfuscation. The truth was laid bare by former councillor Mansbridge when he confessed that the “trajectory” was set and would not change. So it has proved.

If the Tories want to argue the point then I will echo Fiona Curtis’s approach and say, “Prove it by showing us exactly what was changed in response to the public’s reaction?”

But Normandy should not be cited as an example. That was a red herring, dropped at the behest of the new Tory Executive member, Cllr Bilbe.

Oh, and nobody I have ever spoken to has said the two proposed slip roads off the A3 at Burnt Common was a good idea or ruining Ockham village forever by parachuting in 2000+ houses in its midst. Such measures would solve nothing. I could go on… but readers will get the gist.

Sadly the pseudo-solution we are being palmed off with says more about preserving Guildford town in aspic and to hell with the green belt.

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4 Responses to Letter: The Council Paid No Heed to the Public Over the Local Plan

  1. Pete Knight Reply

    January 7, 2018 at 7:57 am

    Cllr Colin Cross should leave his ward for five minutes and venture to Guildford town. There he will see support for homes in the green belt.

    Guildford town centre is under equal pressure – look at the Walnut Tree Close proposal for the Bishops Nissan site. Why should we put up with that little type of development in isolation whilst those in Colin Cross’s patch have none?

    • John Perkins Reply

      January 8, 2018 at 1:39 pm

      Once again we are invited to believe the nonsense that anyone opposed to green belt development must want none at all. Lenin said “A lie told often enough becomes the truth”, by which he meant that it becomes accepted as truth. However, it remains a lie. Cllr. Cross has not expressed opposition to all development on the green belt, only to the hugely disproportionate proposals in the Local Plan.

  2. David Roberts Reply

    January 8, 2018 at 3:21 pm

    To answer to Peter Knight’s question: Without new development in town of a sensible height and density (not skyscrapers, but higher and denser than now), the centre of Guildford will continue to rot and countryside will be ruined forever, since greenfield sites are cheaper to build on.

    Towns are where people (especially the young) want to live and work, and where there is existing infrastructure.

    We’ve nothing to fear from well-planned urban buildings. We’ve a lot to fear from plastering the borough with a gulag of monster housing estates (alias “garden villages” etc) as Guildford Borough Council proposes.

    How many times does it need spelling out that protecting the green belt and regenerating our towns are not alternative options but mutually supportive policies?

    Are we so blind that we can’t see how shabby Guildford has become, and that more retail instead of housing will only make this worse (especially as both Debenhams and House of Fraser are now in trouble)?

    Are we too stupid to calculate the value of the economic, environmental, social, recreational and health services that our countryside provides to everyone, town and country dwellers alike?

    Developing some brownfield sites in the green belt is quite acceptable.The council’s belated and woefully incomplete brownfield register identifies one or two near where I live.

    But putting 70% of new housing on green fields and 58% in the green belt, while removing two-thirds of the borough’s villages from it, is insanely disproportionate – as I trust the Government inspector will recognise as he examines the council’s draft Local Plan.

    There is another approach, called fair burden-sharing.

    Settlements should accommodate new development in proportion to their current population, on the basis of openly calculated housing need (not secret formulas and developers’ wishes as now).

    For instance, Guildford town would accept 20 times more new housing than East Horsley.

    Parish councils could be challenged to suggest where their quota should go, in consultation with residents, with suitable budgetary and other incentives.

    This wouldn’t solve everything. If anything, there would be more public argument, not less. But at least it would be an inclusive, democratic, bottom-up approach, engaging people at the grass-roots rather than talking down to them like Councillor Spooner’s very defensive response to criticism of his beloved Local Plan in Parliament.

    In this, he asserts, without evidence, that “exceptional circumstances” have already been met for building on green fields. His sheds crocodile tears about sacrificing X per cent of green belt to development, like Swift in his ‘Modest Proposal’, but less funny.

    The percentage scarcely matters, the green belt is a solemn, public, national, inter-generational covenant to protect in perpetuity, enshrined in primary legislation. It is not a play thing for local bumbledom and their developer pals.

  3. Jules Cranwell Reply

    January 9, 2018 at 1:02 pm

    It’s great to see at least one Lib-Dem councillor speaking the truth, in spite of his party’s slavish support for the discredited Local Plan.

    Mr Spooner’s attempts to denigrate a fellow councillor on Twitter, along with his many similar, Trump-worthy tweets are demeaning to his office.

    Anyone who attempts to shine a light on the obfuscation by the Executive receives such rough treatment. Let’s not forget the Stalinist style show trial of Cllr. Reeve.

    GBC is becoming more Orwellian by the day.

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