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Response submitted to Local Plan Consultation

25th July 2017

After a six week period to review literally thousands of pages of plan and evidence base, the Guildford Society has responded to the consultation process for the Local Plan for the borough. Our response has been prepared as a community group without recourse to professional advice.  The Society has responded  with a suite of documents, totaling 300 plus pages, due to the complexity of making our comments through the online portal that the council set up for commenting on the plan.  A paper copy was deposited at the council offices on Monday 24th July.

The Guildford Society has supported, and does support the intent of Guildford Borough Council to adopt, as soon as possible, a Local Plan for the Borough  that protects and enhances our past heritage and urban and rural character, whilst promoting and enabling sustainable growth. We do not seek to frustrate this process, but we do need to see a robust, reliable and effective Local Plan – a sound Local Plan.

We recognise the amount of hard work the Officers and Lead Councillors have done to get the plan to this stage and the several million pounds paid on consultants to help inform the plan.  We have, however, been disappointed by the lack of interaction Guildford Borough Council has had/sought with groups like the Guildford Society, during the process of getting the draft plan to this second Regulation 19 consultation (in contrast to the Local Plan Forum which was convened following the 2014 consultation and disbanded in 2015), and we are struck by the amount of red ink on the amended plan and, moreover, by a substantial reorganisation and rewriting of key parts of the evidence base.

There is much to like about the revisions to the plan, particularly its greater emphasis on and preservation of heritage, countryside and visual amenity.

There remain areas of critical concern including:

  • Omission of any vision and real planning for the regeneration of the town centre, and its supporting infrastructure (Transport, Flood Prevention, Sustainable Energy).  
  • No agreed way forward to solve transport issues on the A3 and the increasing pressure on roads coming from the south of Guildford.   
  • A housing policy that doesn’t utilise brownfield sites effectively, lacks a coherent delivery approach, and is lacking in providing amenities to new housing.

We are concerned that the Council have not published, even in draft, the second part of the Local Plan – the Development Management Local Plan – and we are not sure (a) what protections that plan will afford, nor (b) how effective reliance on parts of the Local Plan 2003 will be in the meantime. This second part of the local plan will be an important document, and many of our comments on this first part of the plan may be dealt with in the second part.

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