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Guildford Local Plan Review Begins

Guildford Local Plan Review Begins

We have started to review the Guildford Local Plan and the evidence behind it.

Last month, Council agreed to review the Plan which currently identifies a supply of 14,600 dwellings with the objective of delivering 10,700 dwellings by 2033/34.

We are identifying the right people to provide independent expert advice to support our review.

Leader of the Council, Cllr Joss Bigmore says:

“We are fully committed to getting the best possible outcome for the people of Guildford and its surrounding villages with this review, and want it carried out as quickly and efficiently as possible.

“The Local Plan has been the source of considerable controversy and it is vital that we examine all relevant factors to ensure we determine accurate figures for our Borough’s real housing need and apply all constraints available to us.”

Deputy Leader of the Council, Cllr Jan Harwood says:

“A robust and up-to-date Local Plan is essential in tackling the economic and social challenges that we face. As such, it is our priority to ensure we have the most up-to-date data and the highest-quality evidence. As we adapt to the changing world around us, so will the Local Plan.”

A plan to list the options and timeline for the process of reviewing the existing Local Plan and evidence base is currently being drafted.

The review will include a full update and reassessment of the relevant evidence used for the current Local Plan, some of which dates back to 2014, including the Office of National Statistics’ (ONS) population figures, which were recently reviewed by the Office for Statistics and Regulation (OSR).

Cllr Bigmore continues: “The potential inaccuracies in the ONS figures for our Borough’s population, highlighted last week by the OSR and already the subject of a letter from the Council to the ONS, is just one factor that demonstrates the need for this review.”

In a letter to the Council, Ed Humpherson, Director-General for Regulation at the OSR, said: ‘We found that the population estimates for some cities, such as Guildford, did seem to be inconsistent with, and potentially higher than local evidence would suggest.’

Other factors for the review include:

  • The rapid progress being made on the Guildford Economic Regeneration Programme and the emerging Town Centre Master Plan which will bring forward thousands of sustainable and affordable homes on brownfield sites
  • The changing demand for retail and commercial property, already underway before the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic
  • Changes in work patterns and social requirements in the wake of the pandemic
  • The loss of the A3 road widening scheme
  • The delivery of infrastructure against housing development
  • The Climate Emergency declared by the Council in 2019
  • The government’s recent response to the local housing need proposals in ‘Changes to the current planning system’ consultation, which state that it is committed to protecting the Green Belt and intends to increase development in cities rather than in rural areas
  • Constraints such as Green Belt, Conservation Areas and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty which can be applied.

Cllr Bigmore adds:

“We will need to ensure that our review satisfies the Planning Inspectorate and so we will be following the Planning Advisory Service’s recommended process for review, and any update to the local plan will go to the full Council for decision.

“At the same time, we will be prioritising sustainable brownfield development where practical, to take precedence over our borough’s green fields.”

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