In response to posts on the Guildford Dragon News
I am a member of the GVG Steering Group. I understand the agonies of observers for and against the Bellerby development, and I would point out (speaking for myself and not for or on behalf of GVG) that, had the processes of site allocation, site disposal, integrated evidence, and a realistic examination of alternatives been properly and comprehensively undertaken by the Council and applicant – and we are going back to before the application was even submitted – it is quite possible that all of us who would like to see Waitrose in the town could have had our way – but not necessarily on that site, and almost certainly not in that format.
Whilst some may choose to speculate on my class, wealth or employment status, this is not about NIMBYism, this is about quality and about strategic planning.
If we are to accept development ‘In My Back Yard’, we must demand that it is done properly, without wasting the scarce resources of our previously developed sites (before raiding the countryside to make up the housing numbers for example), and we must make sure that the rest of the town can not only continue to function but can grow its economy, as indeed it should – and as the Region and Country requires it to.
This will require good governance, good leadership and good application of the law and planning regulations. Better engagement with stakeholders and communities would be a good start and I hope the forthcoming Local Plan consultations will embrace this and move us much further forward with an up-to-date, workable and comprehensive plan for the town and the Borough.
I hope there will be a sensible location and solution for both Waitrose and John Lewis, but I personally am not prepared to stand by and let our town be destroyed for a lack of patience and imagination, and from misguided pragmatism.
Julian Lyon (17th March 2013)