Normandy Parish Public Meeting

I become very worried when I hear the designated council representative of GBC talking about a preference for ‘strategic sites’ (i.e. the unfortunate villages that are going to get it in the neck when it comes to massive housing development in the borough in the next 5 years) because its easier for the borough to put its hand out to central government for infrastructure spending.

I thought that the concept of ‘localism’ espoused by this government and embodied in the Localism Act was to allow local communities to set out their own local plan within the framework provided by their local planning authority.  Maybe this was a path to a bit of local democracy.  I was wrong in so many ways.

Whatever this borough says about ‘consultation’ and ‘there is no plan’ and ‘they did not choose to invoke Section 9’ (i.e. go straight to a draft local plan without consultation), the way I’m hearing it, the consultation process is a very expensive charade.  If the lead councillor for promoting the local plan thinks its better to have ‘strategic sites’ and acknowledges that the larger wards in the east of the borough are likely to have their special pleading listened to, then we are going to get planning by dictat from Millmead and it ain’t going to be Green Belt that washes over Normandy.

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One thought on “Normandy Parish Public Meeting

  1. There were some extremely interesting snippets from the special meeting called on November 12 by Normandy Parish Council – not least from guest speaker Cllr Monika Juneja, Guildford Borough Council’s “lead member for planning” – and effectively the councillor charged with “selling” the concept of the Local Plan to the public.
    Of particular significance to anyone unhappy about Normandy’s potential plight, Cllr Juneja conceded that “things such as flooding haven’t been looked at yet”. This highlighted just how important it is for residents to identify flooding history and risk at any of the eight sites earmarked for potential housing in the village.
    It was fascinating too that Cllr Juneja declared herself in favour of development on “strategic sites” in the borough, rather than “spreading the joy of development”, as she whimsically called it. (Forgive me, councillor, if I don’t share your “joy” at the thought of large swathes of Normandy disappearing under concrete.)
    This admission that the councillor most closely involved with the Local Plan favours dumping housing on selected parts of the borough raises doubts on how easily the authority will be won over by arguments that future development should be spread more equitably. No one is suggesting for a moment that Cllr Juneja will seek (or be able) to impose her will on her paid officers or fellow councillors. However, a glance at her register of interests reveals her employment as “barrister”, a profession where success comes in part from presenting a persuasive argument.
    And there was a particular irony in seeing a barrister under cross-examination during the meeting, as she admitted there was “a lot of panic” in the borough over the council’s Local Plan… and had to deny the authority’s “mismanagement” of the consultation process.
    In legal terms, dare one imagine the final verdict is still very much to fight for?

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