Last night (4/6/14) the Executive Committee at Guildford Borough Council voted unanimously to approve the draft Local Plan.
The draft local plan still contains the housing number of 652 homes per annum, which, backdated to 2011 (why?) gives a total until 2031 of 13040 homes to be built – which represents approximately one quarter of the existing number of homes in the borough.
It seems that the Scrutiny Committee requirement to revise the housing number has been disregarded. At the Executive Committee, Cllr Phillips, who proposed that revision as a recommendation, said: “I was pleased that the joint Scrutiny Committee accepted my suggestion… to have another look at the housing numbers. We have in here in Appendix A the detail of how you arrive at the housing numbers and [that].. a meeting has been arranged..between the lead councillor, the head of planning services, the managing director.. [etc] and members of the policy team and appointed advisers such as GL Hearn and Edge Analytics to review the housing numbers. It was hoped that we would have an answer by today. Can you tell me, has this happened? Have you looked at this yet? If you have, what is the housing number and has it reduced as we were hoping it would be?”. It was confirmed that the meeting had not yet taken place,. Cllr Juneja, the lead member for planning, noted that the number had not been reduced at present but would be “challenged” by the Executive.
A private meeting was held on 6 June 2014 to review the housing number. Anne Milton MP arranged for some of her constituents to meet with GL Hearn, the consultants who prepared the report; but those who are not Mrs Milton’s constituents were not been invited to that meeting. (Mrs Milton seems not to have realised that the parliamentary constituency of Guildford, and the borough of Guildford, have different boundaries, and other MPs’ constituents are not included in that consultation.)
The numbers may change – but they will not change before the draft that goes to public consultation. And, at a guess, substantive change may be unlikely thereafter.
We were also told at the Executive Committee meeting by Cllr Mansbridge and others that:
- electrification of the North Downs line is possible (or maybe probable)
- brownfield land is being considered, and that there will be a parallel document to consider the brownfield land “by the river” (this may be the Walnut Tree Close area, or perhaps Slyfield) as a master vision document, to be consulted on possibly in parallel with the Local Plan
- there may be prospects from the Highways Agency for new and improved roads (location unspecified – and actually that doesn’t excite me at all; roadbuilding is not an enticing prospect)
You can view the webcast of the meeting here: