Guildford Council ‘failing in its duty to defend the Green Belt’

Guildford Council ‘failing in its duty to defend the Green Belt’

CPRE Surrey Branch opposes Guildford Borough Council’s plans for large-scale housing development in the countryside around Guildford and has expressed its dismay at the council’s proposals for “inappropriate urban extensions, large housing estates and widespread ‘insetting’ in Green Belt villages”. 

In its response to the consultation on GBC’s revised draft Local Plan, CPRE Surrey criticizes the council for its failure to give proper consideration to “the widespread and serious constraints on development within the borough” and says that councillors should be doing more to “protect and enhance the Green Belt” rather than undermining it.

CPRE also points out that GBC has given insufficient attention in its revised draft Plan to the implications of current economic and political uncertainties, including continuing question marks over airport expansion in the region, traffic congestion on the roads and overcrowding on trains, and the lack of commitments on transport infrastructure investment in Surrey. The group also argues that the council has disregarded the impact of its development proposals in terms of noise, air and water pollution, and the longer-term consequences for quality of life in the borough.

In his letter to GBC as part of the Regulation 19 consultation on revisions to the draft Local Plan, Tim Harrold, Chairman of the local CPRE Guildford group, says CPRE is also objecting to “the way in which a number of new proposals relating to Garlick’s Arch, Burnt Common and Gosden Hill have appeared for late consideration, which have not been reviewed previously at the Regulation 18 stage. We are particularly concerned about the harm which will be done to the Green Belt by ribbon development along the A3 and the associated impact to traffic in Burpham, Merrow, West Clandon, the Horsleys, Send and Ripley.”

Among CPRE’s objections to the revised draft Plan is the council’s failure to ensure optimum use of land within the built-up areas of the borough. Mr Harrold says: “CPRE recognizes that there is a need for affordable housing in Guildford but believes that this shortfall could be largely overcome if the University of Surrey would give priority to the building on their campuses of the multiple occupancy accommodation for students they have promised. This would free up cheaper priced housing already located within the town and incidentally lead to an increase in tax income for the Council. CPRE maintains that priority should be given to the development of brownfield sites for housing which could include land allocated for surface parking in urban locations.”

Endorsing CPRE’s views on the revised draft Plan, the London Green Belt Council (LGBC) has also written to the council stating that it “strongly objects to proposals to release Green Belt land” for housing development. In his letter to GBC, Richard Knox-Johnston, Chairman of LGBC, says that the council has “failed to prove that the benefit of releasing land within the Metropolitan Green Belt outweighs the harm”.

-ENDS

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