Councillor Caroline Reeves, leader of the Liberal Democrat group, said she welcomed the decision by Guildford Borough Council to consult the public on changes to the plan, but added that she feared several significant planning applications could be decided on appeal due to the delay.
Last Thursday (October 27), the borough council said the new local plan would not be submitted to a planning inspector until late next year and revealed there would be a further consultation with “substantial changes” to some of the strategic sites outlined.
Cllr Reeves said: “The Liberal Democrats welcome the proposal to reconsult on some parts of the local plan, in line with the Lib Dem amendment agreed by council back in May.
“As we said then, the council must genuinely listen to the views of residents.
“But we are deeply worried by the prolonged delay.
“The council is now in serious danger of ‘planning by appeal’ threatening both town and countryside across the borough, with three significant planning appeals lodged for next year – the Berkeley Homes proposal for Effingham, the former Wisley Airfield ‘new town’ and the Solum station development in the heart of Guildford.”
“But given where we are, the Lib Dems call for a speedy announcement about which parts of the local plan are due to be changed for the re-consultation, so we can defend our town and countryside at these appeals while at the same time getting on with the reconsultation.
“We do need to get up-to-date local plan in place as soon as possible.”
“In fact there is no justification for any delay. The problem is that the same old plans get re-hashed repeatedly and have not fundamentally changed since 2013.
“If the plans were changed, then we could move forward.”
“Wisley Airfield has over a mile of old concrete and was allocated in the emerging local plan as an obvious opportunity.
“It can provide up to 800 Housing Association and subsidised homes and 1,200 for market sale, as well as shops and schools.
“Homes have to go somewhere, if we don’t do something at Wisley Airfield it will remain derelict and disused for years to come – missing the obvious opportunity for development.”