There are community boundaries, then there are community boundaries…

There’s a heated debate going on between some of our local residents about what constitutes the community boundary.  It’s been brought about by the local council’s need to develop a new Local Plan. The council would love to stuff as much new housing as it can into small villages all over the borough, either by relaxing planning rules within the village boundaries, or ear-marking large chunks of countryside and green fields and reserving them to receive thousands of new homes at some indeterminate point in the future, when other ear-marked development land is used up, or by appending chunks of the Green Belt to communities by extending their boundaries to include such land. Continue reading

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First dissimulation, now denial

Within hours of the press release announcing the publication of Volume 5 of the Green Belt and Countryside Study, the lead councillor responsible for the Guildford Borough Local Plan had to release a denial that the sites identified within the new document were definitely sites to be developed.  So much has suspicion and disbelief grown in the borough community to any new information on the Local Plan issued by this council and its paid lackeys, that such a denial was necessary is no surprise. Continue reading

Choices, choices

In retrospect, would you believe a minister of the Crown, a judge sitting in the Court of Appeal, or a senior council officer?  When it came to Guildford Borough Council planning team trying to justify their evidence base in front of the borough’s own Scrutiny Committee, all bets were off.  The ten individuals, to whom the council deigned to give air time for 3 minutes each to raise their pros and cons (mostly cons) on the veracity of the evidence base, certainly had to sit in silence and listen to a determined attack on their legitimate concerns and so here is a bit of a response to the thorny question of Green Belt protection. Continue reading

Painting and decorating in the borough

It’s been a while since we did a major painting and decorating job on the house, in fact it was just before our son was born, so approaching a decade.  We wanted to have a fresh start for our new family member.  To keep things neutral, even-handed, we chose Old English White for the walls and generic eggshell white for the woodwork. With colours like that and a young son careering round the place as he grows up, scuffing the paintwork, things have become a little jaded recently and maybe could do with some attention, even though budgets are tighter than they used to be.  When I was younger than my son is now, back in the 1950’s, my dad used to talk about how few wall colours were available before WW2 if you didn’t want to spend lots of money on covering over the cracks with wallpaper.  Funny how things like this set your mind running. Continue reading

New SHMA no better than wetting a finger and sticking it in the air

So much for “objectivity”.

The more I sat there and listened to the director of the GL Hearn planning consultancy trying to explain the numbers, the more I realised what a cosy little world exists between these highly rewarded professionals and the local planning authority [LPA] apparatchiks.  He claimed he had already appeared at, at least, four PINS public enquiries into submitted Local Plans in the last few months, so knew exactly what he was talking about.  However, when challenged on simple facts of the SHMA Guidance issued in 2007 concerning the types of stakeholders with which he was required to engage to inform his company’s consideration of the “objectively assessed” number of houses, he singularly failed. Continue reading

NPPF forces LPAs to abandon brownfield housing sites

Published in March 2013, a survey entitled “Local Planning at Risk: Is the NPPF delivering planning for people?“, carried out by the Local Government Information Unit [LGiU] in partnership with the National Trust, reveals that 60% of the local planning authority senior local government politicians and officials surveyed “disagree or strongly disagree that the introduction of the NPPF has had a positive impact on their ability to deliver a Local Plan that reflects local concerns and priorities”.  Furthermore, respondents to the survey suggested that “the Planning Inspectorate, through the examination process, is prioritising development over the views of local people”. Continue reading

It’s dirty work finding land

I was ​interested to listen to an interview on Radio 4 You and Yours ​(Friday 28 Dec 2013) where the BBC’s ​Winifred Robinson discussed house building with Dr. Mark Clapson, a reader in History, University of Westminster who failed to identify that it is the Government via the NPPF that is driving the new house building pressure and focused on the building of new towns on a combination of brownfield and greenfield land as currently being investigated by the Labour Party, who are accusing the house builders of hoarding land. Continue reading