The last official Guildford local plan was adopted in 2003.  There appear to have been plans to replace it in 2009 but the preparation was abandoned in the face of the impending 2010 general election.  Any new draft local plan had to conform to the requirements of the NPPF.

The preparation of the 'evidence base' was recommenced after the 2010 election and a public consultation exercise was begun with the publication of the "Issues and Options" document in 2013, along with a raft of evidence documents including the Strategic Housing Land Area Assessment [SHLAA], Guildford Strategic Housing Market Assessment [SHMA], Employment Land Assessment [ELA], Settlement Hierarchy and so on.

This first consultation exercise presented apparent draft plans to build thousands of new houses on Green Belt land that constitutes 89% of the land area of the borough. Residents pointed out many factual errors and inconsistencies in the base information that was used to reach what to some appeared a pre-determination of the consultation exercise. Subsequently it turned out that this consultation exercise would never have been submitted to the Planning Inspectorate for examination in public.

Consequently, the council published a new document for public consultation in July 2014 "Strategy and Sites". This draft was considered under Regulation 18 of the 2004 Compulsory Purchase & Planning Act 2004 that controls the public consultation stages of a draft local plan, receiving over 20,000 responses, reflecting the concerned involvement of residents across the borough. Some of the critical evidence documents that had been proved so flawed in the first consultation were revised; some were replaced with new variations; some background data was replaced by newly published national statistics from the Office of National Statistics [ONS] and corrections to previously published population forecasts.

Again, residents participated wholeheartedly in the consultation process before it closed in late September 2014, only to be informed by the council leader later that the whole local plan process was to be deferred until after the May 2015 general and local elections.

After the resignation of the then council leader, a new draft plan was proposed for public consultation under Regulation 19 of the 2004 Compulsory Purchase & Planning Act 2004 that seeks to confirm the legal "soundness" of the plan before it goes forward for Examination in Public by a planning inspector.The consultation period of 6 weeks was set to start at the beginning of June 2016 and close 6 weeks later on 17 July 2016.

Importantly, new evidence documents were added or existing documents replaced (e.g. the Guildford SHMA being replaced by the West Surrey SHMA; the SHLAA being replaced by the LAA; the Sustainability Appraisal). In the interim, a new Town Centre Master Plan was produced by Allies & Morrison and this informs the new draft Local Plan (Proposed Submission). The emphasis in the draft plan switched from multiple smaller housing sites sites to a few significant "strategic" housing sites, including the now government funded Slyfield Area Regeneration Plan [SARP], Gosden Hill Farm, Three Farms Meadows (former Wisley airfield), Blackwell Farm (University of Surrey land) and land between Normandy & Flexford. Most of the land at these "strategic" sites is situated in the Green Belt.

Approximately 6,500 residents of the borough generated 32,000 comments to the 2016 Local Plan consultation. The high number of comments caused the council to review further some of the evidence base documents and propose a further, fourth, consultation in 2017. The proposed submission local plan was redrafted and, from a Normandy & Flexford point of view, the 'strategic site' A46 (land between Normandy & Flexford settlements) and the minor site A47 (land at Flexford covering an SNCI) were withdrawn.

Overall, the council had a further consideration of the Guildford part of the West Surrey SHMA in February 2017 and returned with a slightly modified annual overall housing number, with part of the total figure pushed out beyond the 2034 end date of the local plan, attempting to give the impression that the total housing number had been reduced. The distribution of new housing in the west of the borough was modified to take account of the withdrawal of Site A46, with 500 or so more houses being pushed onto Ash Green and into the multi-part Site A29 around Ash ad Tongham; a reduction to 1,800 new dwellings at the proposed Blackwell Farm site was balanced by the addition of a secondary school to account for the loss at withdrawn Site A46.  

This reduction from 3,000 to 1,800 units at Blackwell Farm appears to have been re-balanced by inserting new sites without prior notification around Send, particularly at Garlick's Arch. The plan continues to be dominated by around 70% of new housing proposed for the Green Belt and approximately 6,500 new homes being proposed within the 400m-5km mitigation zone of the Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area and SSSI.

The fourth round of consultation started at the beginning of June 2017 and ended mid-July 2017. The council 'restricted' comment to the 'changes' in the draft plan documents but this also permitted reference to the new evidence base documents that supported any new or changed content in the proposed submission plan documents. The result of the consultation saw a further 9,500 comments from 3,300 individuals and organisations submitted.

The Guildford borough Submission Local Plan: strategy and sites (2017) was submitted to the Secretary of State for Local Government on 13 December 2017 for independent examination. The weight of comment to the Regulation 19 consultation appeared to have little impact on the overall content.

The council finally responded to the Government requirement to create a brownfield register by 31 December 2017. The Guildford borough Brownfield Land Register register contains 55 "brownfield" sites that are now entered on the Part 1 of the register comprising all sites categorised as Previously Developed Land (PDL).

Monday the 26th - Published by Normandy Action Group, 166 Glaziers Lane, Guildford GU3 2EB - with thanks to Keith Witham, Surrey County Councillor - Hostgator Coupon Template