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

Housing Numbers

Very thorough analysis that gives insight into why there is a myriad of different potential targets. Although originally posted in October 2013 and therefore reflective of the 2009 SHMA that was available to the 2013 Guildford draft Local Plan, it raises serious questions that the new SHMA (December 2013) has failed to address.

Guildford Plan

Guildford Borough Council’s paper “How many new homes?” sets out to provide a range of different approaches to calculating housing numbers between 2011 and 2031.  The resulting picture is a potentially confusing one with estimates of NEED ranging from 181 homes per year to 1,066 new households per year.  This seems to be akin to a game of ‘pin the tail on the donkey’ – a blindfold stab in the dark.

Before going on to the paper itself, it might be helpful to review the requirement placed on us by the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF) 2012.

NPPF (Section 6) Delivering a wide choice of high quality homes

47. To boost significantly the supply of housing, local planning authorities should:

  • use their evidence base to ensure that their Local Plan meets the full, objectively assessed needs for market and affordable housing in the housing market area, as…

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Members of Parliament ‘get it’ as minister evades

In a debate in Westminster Hall a couple of days ago, David Heath MP led a consideration of the impact of the planning reforms introduced by the NPPF.  Most of the participating MPs came from north, north-west and south-west constituencies, many were Tories.  Not one from a Surrey constituency – don’t tell me, too busy on ministerial duties, too much under the influence of the whips office, don’t want to be members of the ‘awkward squad’. 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

New group to protect Guildford Green Belt emerges

A new grouping of residents associations, community groups and parish councils has formed to promote protection of the Green Belt in the face of the intent of the Guildford Local Plan (Draft) to take 16 of the borough’s 24 villages out of the Green Belt and stuff them full of new houses.

Nominally “Guildford Green Belt Guardians” [GGBG], they will first challenge the basis of the new Strategic Housing Market Assessment [SHMA] study commissioned by Guildford Borough Council.  The SHMA will determine objectively assessed housing need and the future number of new homes to be built over the 15 year period of the Guildford Local Plan. Continue reading