Guildford approves major local plan for thousands of new homes on green belt land

Thousands of new homes are to be built in Guildford up until 2034 after the local council voted to adopt a major local plan which will see 15 villages taken out of the green belt.

Despite thousands of objections, Guildford Borough Council has approved the new housing policy to build 10,678 homes to meet the rising housing demand in the area.

Three major green belt sites have been allocated for 5,200 new homes, with 2,000 homes earmarked for a former Wisley Airfield site, 1,500 at Blackwell Farm and 800 in the city centre.

The 600-page Local Plan has cost £3.4m to develop and has taken years to produce, setting out where houses, shops and offices will be built and how road networks and infrastructure will meet rising populations.

The plan was approved 28 to 12 with four councillors abstaining at a packed special council meeting, but some had called for the decision to be postponed until after the local elections on 2 May.

Staff and councillors have reportedly been subjected to “nasty comments” and “intimidating behaviour” during the local plan process, and were warned over their behaviour ahead of the council’s vote.

Local residents had sent in thousands of objections complaining that the the plan paves the way for excessive development on green belt land, but in March a government planning inspector said the plan was sound and the use of rural land was justified to meet a pressing need for housing.

Borough council leader Paul Spooner described it as the “most important decision for the borough” and said that whilst the timing of the decision was “unfortunate,” a delay to the vote would push the process back another two or three years.

Green belts now cover 13% of England, around one-and-a-half million hectares, and were created after World War Two to protect the countryside with tight controls only to be reviewed in exceptional circumstances. 

The local plan will see the delivery of 10,678 homes by 2034, and 15 villages will be removed from the green belt to accommodate the new houses.


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