The Guildford Vision Group was formed to campaign for the creation of a new and inspiring vision of the future of Guildford as a result of the Council’s flawed draft Town Centre Masterplan.
These documents were due to be adopted by the Executive Committee of Guildford Borough Council at its meeting on 6th September but were withdrawn because Guildford Vision Group, armed with two Counsels’ opinions - from David Elvin QC and Gregory Jones QC summed up in a letter from Forsters to the Council on our behalf – demonstrated that it would have been unlawful to adopt them. This was not a “procedural challenge” as suggested in the Council Leader’s comment at the meeting, but a challenge delivered to the Council’s solicitor accompanied by a 37 page legal analysis by one of the country leading administrative lawyers in which he reviews an array of issues where the process leading to adoption and the content of these two flawed planning documents breached UK law, EU law and the Council’s own Constitution.
Guildford Vision Group had continuously pointed out that the documents failed to comprehensively and ambitiously tackle the serious and long-standing problems that afflict the town and which have gone unaddressed for many years. It is also now clear that the documents would not have provided any defence against inappropriate development.
Guildford Vision Group is challenging the process by which Planning Permission was granted for the Bellerby development – an out-of-town format supermarket in the town. This development, if completed, would exacerbate the highways issues we already face, increase the pressure for housing on green field sites and put at risk the development of key sites in the town centre.
Guildford Vision Group recognises that there will be some concerns about the impact on the 2014 Local Plan process, but we believe 60-70% of the work that has already gone into preparing the Brief and the Framework can be reused in drafting the Borough-wide Local Plan; consultants’ reports – perhaps with some further analysis in places – can contribute to the process and that the voices of all who have responded to consultations can be incorporated into the document and have not been wasted. There is time to get the 2014 Plan in place and there are ways to work around the settlement of a proper long-term plan for the town centre. Guildford Vision Group, if the Council will permit, is committed both to having robust defence against inappropriate development and to having a clear, workable framework for good development bringing economic resurgence, jobs and homes and, above all, making Guildford a place to want to be.
Guildford Vision Group has one objective, therefore, and our campaign is very simple. We wish to see a new process put in place in which the views and creativity of everyone who lives and works in Guildford can play a part in creating a new Vision that looks out 20 or more years into future. This would be achieved through a framework of engagement supported, managed and informed by the best external facilitators and expert advisors. Ideally such a process would be led by the Borough Council and we very much hope they will take up this challenge, particularly in the light of changes to their planning responsibilities resulting from the new National Planning Policy Framework and recent Localism legislation.
To explore the major issues that concern us and to start to provide us with a wider set of views from across the community, please complete our short questionnaire by clicking here
If you are already convinced, we hope you will still complete our questionnaire or if you have already done so, click here to see what you can do to help us.
Or keep up to date with our latest news here
If you agree with what we are seeking to achieve please sign up below or, to add contact details and/or a comment please visit the Contact Us page