Guildford Borough Council continues to move forward with the Draft Local Plan, since publishing over 20,000 consultation comments last December.
The Borough wanted to reach as many local people as possible during their 12 week consultation last year and they received a wide range of responses, covering many themes and concerns. They have analysed these and done further work to help inform the iterative process of developing a sound Local Plan.
Cllr Stephen Mansbridge, Leader of the Council, says: “We want a new Local Plan that secures a successful future for our borough and work continues at each stage to involve and listen to our local community. Last year’s consultation on the first draft of the new Local Plan was a vital and necessary opportunity to engage with people and organisations as part of the ongoing progress towards a final version.
“We have not stood still and a number of key projects have already started based on the emerging themes from the consultation, particularly for infrastructure improvements.”
Below are some of the issues raised and how the Council are tackling them.
• Issues on the A3 – we are working with the Highways Agency to develop interim measures to relieve current congestion and improve safety on the A3. The government’s Autumn Statement also included a provisional budget of £150-250 million for a future major scheme for the A3.
• Concern about local road network congestion – we are doing a hotspots study to help identify improvements.
• Town centre improvements and congestion – we have commissioned a Town Centre Masterplan and a Guildford Town Centre Highways Assessment (GOTCHA) study.
• Location of school sites – we are working with Surrey County Council to re-assess possible options for both primary and secondary schools.
• Land Availability Assessment (LAA) – formally the Strategic Housing Land Availability Assessment (SHLAA) – we will now look at a range of uses and not just housing, with a revised methodology. We also made a further call for sites to maximise brownfield opportunities in a sustainable way.
• Flooding issues – we are finalising a Strategic Flood Risk Assessment and are working closely with the Environment Agency to ensure future flood risk is minimised.
• Employment and retail needs – updating the Employment Land Needs Assessment (ELA) and Retail and Leisure Study. Consider how best to provide the space needed and where.
• Work with existing large employers to ensure that they remain a part of Guildford’s future.
Last year’s consultation was based on the emerging evidence base that was available at the time. As the Council continue to update their evidence, they will now prepare a single Draft Local Plan that contains possible development sites, strategic policies and development management policies to help guide planning applications. Their ongoing work on the LAA will consider the need for potential development sites with any constraints that might limit that development.
Cllr Mansbridge adds: “We must strike a balance between the social, economic and environmental considerations to enable prosperity for all our residents and businesses. Developing a new Local Plan is not a short-term, one-off project. It quite rightly takes time and effort and we are determined to make sure the final outcome is one that satisfies our local community needs and helps our borough thrive.”
The Council first consulted on the issues and options to help develop the new Local Plan in October and November 2013, followed by the Draft Local Plan consultation from July to September last year. They aim to publish an updated Local Plan timetable this summer once the results of the evidence base become clearer. They will then give the public another opportunity to get involved with the next round of consultation towards the end of 2015.
Cllr Mansbridge concludes: “We seek a borough in balance, which benefits our residents and protects our prosperity”.
You can find more information about the Local Plan at http://www.guildford.gov.uk/newlocalplan