20140520_Local Plan Madness

You know things are getting out of hand when the political debate becomes personal; when people start to challenge the personal standing of the Lead Member for Planning instead of trying to put forward a valid argument.

As we progress laboriously through the Local Plan process, some people are so annoyed with potential development solutions that they have taken to vitriol and aggression in lieu of reasoned arguments.

I have no great desire to see the extent of development proposed in our town and borough of Guildford but neither do I want to see metaphorical-manure-flinging defences of the Green Belt as if that were the only issue.

Stack the buildings high in the town ‘so that we can continue to enjoy our protected environment in the countryside’.

The problem seems to be that the sequence of publication of documents for consultation and the spectre in print of some rolling back of the green belt has been enough to generate loads of ‘Save the…’ groups campaigning for a do-nothing-very-much strategy.

I am not enthusiastic for rolling back Green Belt; neither am I fundamentally opposed.

The key to this difficult process is GOOD INFORMATION leading to GOOD DECISION-MAKING.

I lament the poor quality of some of the data and feel sure that with an overlay of greater detail, the Local Plan process could actually be a cathartic experience.  As it is, there is no doubt we will be at war amongst different parts of the community at least until the moment a new Local Plan is in place.

Come on one and all, let’s get the debate to an altogether higher level and collectively help to improve the evidence base.  That way we are more likely to have a town and borough we can be proud of and which allows our children and their children to expect to be able to live here to share in that pride.

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