A neighbour kindly sent me a copy of their considered response to the consultation on Guildford Borough Council’s draft Local Plan and a very trenchant document it is. This is the “real” consultation, where residents’ responses will go forward with the rest of the much-criticised ‘evidence base’ to the planning inspector who examines in public the submitted plan next May (2015), not the sham consultation last year, used by the council to draw the sting of those motivated to respond and then manipulate the evidence base where politically convenient. Now, residents’ comments really do matter. If you write, you have the right to request being heard at the examination in public and put your points personally and directly to the planning inspector.
My neighbour had read the 19 policies in the draft document, picked out the Site Policies relevant to Normandy and Flexford, gone back to the ‘evidence base’ documents referenced in the policy notes, taken the trouble to re-read all 207 paragraphs the National Policy Planning Framework, noted the letters of ministerial guidance issued by the various incumbents of the planning portfolios over the last 18 months and also taken the trouble to be aware of the decisions flowing through the courts that modify interpretation of the NPPF. This is the dedication being shown again by thousands of incensed residents that believe this council has been and is being secretive, misleading and duplicitous in the development and presentation of this plan.
When faced with a council where the lead councillor for the Local Plan process has had to step down from the Executive Committee of the council as a result of being arrested, bailed and appearing in court, facing seven charges variously reported in the press as including forgery, fraud by false representation, obtaining monetary advantage by deception and wilfully pretending to be a barrister; where the Head of Planning came back from holiday in August, sat down at her desk and promptly resigned; and where the deputy leader of the council’s Executive Committee has resigned recently “due to pressure of increased work commitments outside the council”, residents cannot be blamed for expressing deep dissatisfaction with the governance of the borough and the management of the Local Plan process. Something is rotten in this borough.
What did my neighbour write in his letter to the council planning department, outlining his rejection to the potential ‘concreting over’ of Normandy and Flexford? Perhaps you would like to read for yourself… Continue reading