Planning & Housing

Greenbelt & Local Plans

The latest version of Guildford Local Plan will probably please very few - housing targets remain high, Greenbelt land is being grabbed and even more housing is planned in our already-congested town. It would seem that the Conservative government has totally ignored the various issues in areas like Guildford, such as designated Green Belt, AONB and an already dense level of development, while pushing for additional homes above all else. Liberal Democrats do agree that we need more homes to meet the needs of our community, but that must be balanced against protecting our environment in both town and countryside.
Cranleigh suffers from a different problem - Waverley currently doesn't have a Local Plan which leaves towns in the area under the threat of planning by appeal. This means that developers can propose homes where they have access to land without regard for designation of land status or roads, transport and other community infrastructure. This not only puts precious Greenbelt and countryside at risk.
Liberal Democrats have always supported the provision of the extra homes needed by our communities, whilst preserving the character of our historic town and rural villages, and protecting our countryside. The challenge right now is that the government is voicing support for the Greenbelt while at the same time suggesting more ways to overcome Greenbelt issues to allow planning to be granted. Changes proposed in the Housing White Paper threaten any local authority without a Local Plan with the imposition of increased housing numbers and approval of major development by the government and would appear to be a developer's charter. This government is basically handing developers planning permission on a plate.
Liberal Democrats also have always maintained that the type of housing should take account of local need in consultation with Parish Councils, for example affordable housing for young people, bungalows for down-sizing or family-size market homes, and have supported the creation of Neighbourhood Plans for local areas for this reason. New housing must preserve or enhance the quality of life for residents wherever it is built, both in the urban areas and in the rural villages, and protect our parks and green spaces. Both town and villages are important - we must not protect one at the expense of the other. We all know that the borough's roads are already near capacity, many schools are over-subscribed, and health services are struggling to cope. Any large-scale housing development must include guaranteed improvements to infrastructure, provided in an agreed timeframe to meet the need created by the development, not promised at some time in the future.
Liberal Democrats are committed to developing on brownfield sites first wherever possible. Only when every other option has been considered and discounted (in a valid way that will stand the test when the Local Plan is submitted) should Greenbelt land be put forward for development. Development in AGLV and AONB should only be considered as an absolute last resort. Any expansion of village boundaries should be small-scale and proportionate to the size of the existing community with minimal encroachment into the countryside.

Local Plan

Like my Liberal Democrat colleagues at Guildford Borough Council I agree that Guildford needs more homes to meet the needs of our community and that need must be balanced against protecting our environment in both the urban and rural areas. I also firmly believe that development has to be proportional and that we must ensure that as housing in communities increase all aspects of infrastructure must increase and improve accordingly.
We are stuck between a rock and a hard place. For our economy to continue to grow and for us to continue to enjoy the success as a community that we do we must meet our housing need. However, what is clear to me is that we are victims of a flawed system, put in place by our Conservative government, which favours developers and does not ensure delivery of much needed improvements to infrastructure. We have to walk a difficult line between risking speculative development if we don't have a Local Plan and us fighting to get a better deal for communities around Guildford.

Newlands Corner

My view, which is shared by my County Council colleagues, is that it is the unspoilt aspects of the 265 acre site are what make it so appealing to local residents and therefore many of the changes proposed will have a negative impact on the site. Improvements to the toilets are very welcome as, in my view, are some additional benches that visitors can use to enjoy the incredible views at Newlands Corner. The proposed parking charges on the other hand are most unwelcome.