Countryside campaigners say priority should be given to brownfield sites
COUNCILLORS should be doing more to protect and enhance the green belt, a campaign group has said.
Following the closure of Guildford Borough Council’s consultation on the draft local plan, the Surrey branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) has gone public with its letter of objection.
In its response to the consultation, CPRE criticised the council for its failure to give proper consideration to what is says is the widespread and serious constraints on development within the borough.
Among CPRE’s objections to the revised draft plan is the council’s ‘failure’ to ensure optimum use of land within the borough’s built-up areas.
Tim Harrold from the group said: “CPRE recognises there is a need for affordable housing in Guildford but believes that this shortfall could be largely overcome if the University of Surrey would give priority to the building on its campuses of the multiple occupancy accommodation for students it has promised.
“This would free up cheaper-priced housing already located within the town and incidentally lead to an increase in tax income for the council.
“CPRE maintains that priority should be given to the development of brownfield sites for housing, which could include land allocated for surface parking in urban locations.”
The University of Surrey previously told the Surrey Advertiser that it was acutely aware of the need for any development to be sympathetic to its surroundings.
A spokesman for the borough council said: “The consultation on the Proposed Submission Local Plan (2017) closed on July 24. This sought comments on proposed changes made to the Proposed Submission Local Plan (2016).
“We are currently considering all comments to understand whether any further changes are required.
“Our current timetable sets out that we aim to submit the plan to the secretary of state for examination by an independent planning inspector in December 2017.
“When we submit the plan, we will also submit all of last year’s consultation comments, along with the responses to this summer’s consultation about the proposed changes.”
The spokesman explained that after the independent planning inspector had completed examination of the plan to assess whether it met the requirements of national policy, a report and recommendations will be produced.
As part of this assessment, the inspector will be evaluating the overall impact of the local plan on the borough.
The spokesman added: “We will then consider any changes they may have and the full council will be asked to decide whether to adopt the new Local Plan.”