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Guildford Local Plan finding "a victory for common sense"

3 minute read
Guildford Local Plan finding "a victory for common sense"

Published at 12:54pm 14th February 2019. (Updated at 7:40pm 14th February 2019)

A “victory for common sense” is how one council leader has labelled the findings of a latest hearing into Guildford's Local Plan.

The draft Local Plan was under the microscope again this week during a two-day review by a planning inspector.

Council leader Paul Spooner said the outcome of the hearing, which ended on February 13, was a “very good result” for the council.

In a verbal summing up of the two-day proceeding, planning inspector Jonathan Bore indicated that “overall he considers” the borough’s Local Plan to be “sound” and that he agreed with the council’s revised housing need figure (OAN – Objectively Assessed Housing Need) of 562 homes per year, Cllr Spooner said.

The inspector said Guildford could remove the four extra sites it had to put forward last year as a modification – which included Aaron’s Hill in Godalming where 200 homes were allocated.

Waverley Borough Council has already granted permission for 262 homes on its side of land in that area and residents were concerned that Guildford would be allocating more.

Cllr Spooner also reported that the inspector said Guildford would not have to accommodate extra numbers for Woking Borough Council’s as part of an unmet housing need.

Speaking after the hearing in the council chamber concluded on Tuesday, Cllr Spooner said:

“It’s a very good result for Guildford Borough Council. Until we see the final report we will not know the full detail behind his position, but he found the council’s position sound. This has been a very long and very extensive process with a lot of consultation.”

He said that they had worked hard to get a balance between meeting the targets set by central government and helping to protect green belt land.

But that he accepted there was a housing crisis in terms of affordable homes in Guildford and that although not everyone will be happy with the Local Plan he felt it was still balanced.

Cllr Spooner added:

“I think it’s a victory for common sense. We have always said where we can we will protect the green belt.”

Over 5,000 people responded to a consultation on the draft Local Plan in September and October.

During the hearing Mr Bore heard from representatives of campaign groups, resident associations and housing forums as well as Woking and Waverley officers.

The council now needs to wait for Mr Bore’s final report to be published. Cllr Spooner hopes to have the final Local Plan adopted before local elections in May.

He said:

“It’s in everyone’s interest and the community’s interest to get this plan in place. It protects the green belt and it shapes the development plan and enables things to happen.”

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