Lib Dems object to ‘take it or leave it’ Local Plan choice

April 9, 2019 12:15 PM

Guildford Local Plan

Local Plan

Guildford Liberal Democrats are disappointed by the Borough Council's belated decision not to accept their amendment to a motion at this evening's Council meeting, calling for a deferral of the decision due to be taken on 25 April on whether to adopt the Local Plan.

The Lib Dem amendment sought to use any agreed deferral period to seek revision of the Local Plan to delete surplus green belt allocations.

The amendment was submitted to the Council on 3rd April, yet the Lib Dems were only told it would not be accepted five days later, on 8th April. Council officers informed the Lib Dems that they have taken advice and the Council has no powers to modify the Plan at this stage, and the Council must decide either to adopt the Local Plan or not to adopt it.

Lib Dem Group Leader Caroline Reeves, who was due to propose the amendment, says:

"It is disappointing that councillors have been denied the chance to debate our proposal in public at the Council meeting tonight. All councillors should have had the chance to consider the advice the officers received on this really vital issue.

"Councillors will have to take a decision on adopting the Local Plan on a 'take it or leave it' basis. Either adopt this Local Plan with its lower housing target but excess loss of green belt, or run the risk of the government insisting on a higher housing requirement if the Plan is revised and resubmitted, effectively gambling with the Borough's future."

Lib Dem planning spokesperson Liz Hogger, who was due to second the amendment, says:

"The problem is that this Local Plan is fundamentally different from the Plan submitted to government in December 2017. The Council argued successfully at the February Local Plan Hearing for a lower housing target, but failed to ask for a corresponding reduction in green belt release. That was a decision of the Conservative Executive, and other councillors had no say on that approach.

"We are now being asked to adopt a Plan which takes too much land out of the green belt and opens the door to developers keen to build thousands of extra homes on greenfield sites across the borough."