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Guildford Borough Council

Submission Local Plan: Strategy and Sites - Main Modifications

Submission Local Plan: Strategy and Sites - Main Modifications - Part 1: Policies


Councillor Paul Spooner - Leader of the Council

The borough of Guildford is a very special, beautiful place for all who live and work here. We want to keep it this way for generations to come. To help manage the future of the area and outline the direction in which we are heading, we have set out planning policies for the period up until 2034. Our Submission Local Plan: strategy and sites (2017) addresses the needs for employment, housing, community facilities and other forms of development in the borough, supported by the appropriate level of infrastructure. It also outlines how we will conserve and enhance the unique qualities of our natural and built environment, especially in the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area. This Development Plan Document sets out how we propose to meet these conflicting demands and offers a vision for the borough as a prosperous, safe and healthy place where people from all communities want, and are able, to live and work. Once tested for soundness, the Local Plan: strategy and sites will form a key component of our development plan against which we are required to determine planning applications. The document will provide the framework for improved infrastructure, development and employment in the borough for the twenty-year plan period.

The Submission Local Plan: strategy and sites (2017) recognises and reflects the uniqueness of our borough as a place in which to live, work, visit and study. Guildford is home to two universities, a world leading research institute, a number of UK and European business headquarters and a world class research park. The borough also has a vibrant retail economy, contains a number of cultural attractions and is highly valued by residents and visitors alike for its special heritage and landscape. Protecting these qualities for future generations is a core theme of this plan.

The planning system is underpinned by an objective to promote sustainable development. Whilst we will conserve and enhance our special landscapes, the Local Plan aims to balance protecting the borough’s unique environment with meeting our social and economic needs. Ignoring the need for more housing and employment in the borough will have destructive consequences for local communities. It is necessary to have more affordable housing, sites for travellers and diversification in the housing stock to help ensure that accommodation is accessible to all. It is also vital to enhance our employment to maintain the prosperity of the borough, including in our rural areas.

We recognise that significant infrastructure upgrades are required to support existing communities and the planned growth of the borough. The delivery of sites allocated in this plan is contingent upon the provision of new infrastructure, which is a key theme of our Local Plan. The Council will work with infrastructure providers and developers to ensure that sufficient physical, social and green infrastructure is provided during the plan period.

The policies and site allocations contained within the Submission Local Plan are informed by an up-to-date, extensive and robust evidence base. The borough’s specific housing and employment needs have been determined through our updated joint West Surrey Strategic Housing Market Assessment and Employment Land Needs Assessment. The Council’s Land Availability Assessment determines the availability, suitability and viability of sites for development. Our evidence base will continue to be updated throughout the plan period to ensure that the plan remains flexible and adaptable to change.

In meeting the borough’s housing and employment needs the Council have adopted a ‘brownfield first’ approach. However, our evidence demonstrates that there is not sufficient previously developed land available to meet all of the borough’s development needs. A range of locations, including five strategic sites, have therefore been identified for development. In accordance with national policy, we are also proposing to inset some of our villages from the green belt. In total, 1.5% of green belt land will be removed and allocated for development during the plan period.

The Submission Local Plan: strategy and sites (2017) is the culmination of a long and complex preparation process. In drawing up the plan, we have engaged with partner organisations and local communities and agencies. We have worked particularly closely with neighbouring Local Authorities who share similar physical and demographical characteristics to us and over which our housing and economic markets transcend.

We have also asked you for your views about the future of the area throughout the preparation of the Local Plan. The comments you provided on our published Issue and Options 2013 document, Draft Local Plan 2014 and Submission Local Plan (2016) have proven invaluable in helping the Council produce what we consider to be the most sustainable plan possible. We recognise that there are many different and often competing views about the borough’s future and have looked at various ways of meeting the needs that you identified, alongside the national requirements with which we have to comply. The six-week consultation period on the Submission Local Plan (2017) offers another opportunity to have your views heard.

The Submission Local Plan: strategy and sites (2017) plans positively for the borough’s long-term needs. The plan will deliver more housing, employment space and supporting infrastructure whilst preserving the borough’s special landscapes and environmental qualities. In producing the Submission Local Plan: strategy and sites (2017), we have set out a vision and policies for the future of the borough that aim to improve the prosperity of Guildford and reflect your own aspirations.