Agenda and minutes

Extraordinary Meeting, Council - Wednesday, 21st February, 2024 7.00 pm

Venue: Council Chamber, Millmead House, Millmead, Guildford, Surrey GU2 4BB. View directions

Contact: John Armstrong, Democratic Services and Elections Manager  Tel: (01483) 444102


No. Item


Apologies for absence

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Apologies for absence were received from the Mayor, Councillor Masuk Miah, and Councillors Honor Brooker, Ruth Brothwell, Matt Furniss, Sandy Lowry, Merel Rehorst-Smith, and Katie Steel; and from Honorary Aldermen Catherine Cobley, Sarah Creedy, Jayne Marks, Tony Phillips, Lynda Strudwick, and Jenny Wicks.



Disclosures of interest

To receive and note any disclosable pecuniary interests from councillors. In accordance with the local Code of Conduct, a councillor is required to disclose at the meeting any disclosable pecuniary interest (DPI) that they may have in respect of any matter for consideration on this agenda.  Any councillor with a DPI must not participate in any discussion or vote regarding that matter and they must also withdraw from the meeting immediately before consideration of the matter.


If that DPI has not been registered, the councillor must notify the Monitoring Officer of the details of the DPI within 28 days of the date of the meeting.


Councillors are further invited to disclose any non-pecuniary interest which may be relevant to any matter on this agenda, in the interests of transparency, and to confirm that it will not affect their objectivity in relation to that matter.


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There were no disclosures of interest.


Mayor's Communications

To receive any communications or announcements from the Mayor.

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The Deputy Mayor reported that, before leaving for his well-deserved break, the Mayor had joined Guildford Hongkongers for their New Lunar Year Market at Guildford Cathedral on Saturday 10 February 2024, and very much enjoyed meeting over 60 stall holders – who served over 5,000 people during this popular event.

On a rainy Shrove Tuesday afternoon, The Mayor opened the popular Pancake Races, and the Charlotteville Jubilee Trust, who organised the event were delighted that £1,000 was raised for the Guildford Street Angels.

One of the Mayor’s last engagements before his break was to join representatives from Rotary in Guildford and the Vivace Chorus, as they presented funds raised by the Mayor’s Christmas Concert.  Ticket sales raised £3,000 for the Mayor’s Local Support Fund and the retiring collection raised just over £1,300 for the Fountain Centre. 


Leader's Communications

To receive any communications or announcements from the Leader of the Council.

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Crowdfund Guildford

The Leader reported that there would be a free virtual workshop on Friday 8 March, in which participants would gain valuable insights into how residents can access support and funding for their ideas and projects, learn first-hand about the resources available, the application process and how the Council can help in bringing forward community initiatives.  Councillors were asked to encourage residents and local groups with an idea, to attend. They could sign up by visiting


Pride in Surrey

The Leader announced that Guildford would hosting the fifth anniversary celebration of Pride in Surrey, at Stoke Park on Saturday 21 September 2024.  The Leader expressed immense pride in our diverse community, which included a high representation of LGBTQ plus residents, recognising the significance this event had to our residents. Tickets were now available via the Pride in Surrey website and were being offered on a ‘pay what you can’ basis keeping pride accessible for as many people as possible.

Arts Council Accreditation – Guildford Museum

The Leader reported that the Museum had retained full accreditation with Arts Council England, which recognised the hard work that the heritage team had put into every aspect of the Museum from looking after the collection of objects to meeting relevant standards for policies and procedures.

Public inquiry for planning appeal at land at Guildford Cathedral

The Leader reported that this appeal would be determined by public inquiry, which would open on 5 March 2024, and was due to last 10 days.  Times and dates were subject to change, as advised by the Planning Inspector. More information could be found on the Council’s website, where the appeal documents could be viewed.



Public participation

To receive questions or statements from the public.  As this is an extraordinary meeting, any questions or statements must relate only to the business for which the meeting has been convened.

Details of any questions (including a written response to them) or requests to make statements received from the public will be set out in the Order Paper which will be published on the day of the meeting.


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The following persons addressed the Council meeting in respect of Minute No. CO119 below – Review of the Guildford Borough Local Plan: Strategy and Sites (2015-2034), and made the key points indicated below:

(1)         Julia Osborn, Chair of Send Parish Council, stated that the Local Plan had adopted a spatial strategy of housing and industrial development that was characterised by a heavy concentration of development in the north-east corner of the borough, particularly the ward of Send and Lovelace.

Since the removal of the villages from the Green Belt, Send had also witnessed a huge spike in windfall applications. According to the sustainability appraisal, villages sat at tier 10 of the sequential hierarchy, which meant that they were the least sustainable position for development to take place. All villages should only account for 5% of total supply. However, since the adoption of the plan, 843 dwellings had been approved in Send alone, which was 8% of total supply of the plan in just one village. Furthermore, strategic sites had not been delivered in the timeframe expected and key road improvement infrastructure fundamental to the spatial approach of the plan had not been delivered.

The spatial strategy of the Local Plan was now not fit for purpose, and it never was.  The continued reliance on windfall applications, without infrastructure in villages was a completely unsustainable approach.  This update needed vision and leadership, to produce a new spatial strategy, with a town centre master plan at its core and allocated sites in villages that had not yet received approval must be removed from the plan, with immediate effect, to alleviate any further pressure on existing infrastructure. A new Green Belt and Countryside Study was also needed to reapply constraint to villages. 

In response, the Lead Councillor for Planning, Councillor Fiona White stated that the Council was only being asked at this meeting to agree that the plan should be updated following the officer review.  The matters to which the speaker had referred would be dealt with during the work to update the plan and the evidence that would be required as part of the update process. It was therefore not possible to respond to these matters at this stage.  The Lead Councillor assured the speaker that the Council would liaise with parish councils, residents' associations and residents throughout the borough as part of this process.

(2)    John Rigg, on behalf of the Guildford Vision Group stated that

many people in Guildford believed that the 2019 Local Plan was not fit for purpose, had huge gaps, with missing or bad policies. The glaring omission from the 2003 plan, the 2019 plan, and the officer’s report on the agenda was a lack of planning vision, with no reference to the town or the emerging town master plan.  The report remained silent on the essential evidence assembled in Shaping Guildford's Future (SGF).  Seventy percent of the borough’s population lived in the town, yet the Local Plan had no ambitions for flood remediation for height  ...  view the full minutes text for item CO117


Questions from Councillors

Details of any questions from councillors (including a written response to them) will be set out in the Order Paper which will be published on the day of the meeting.  As this is an extraordinary meeting, questions must relate only to the business for which the meeting has been convened.


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(a)     Councillor Joss Bigmoreasked the Deputy Leader of the Council and Lead Councillor for Regeneration, Councillor Tom Hunt, the following question:

“The Local Plan contains a number of large strategic sites which are yet to deliver homes.  The allocation at Blackwell Farm can’t be delivered without the addition of a piece of land owned by GBC.  Can the lead councillor please give an update as to the negotiations between the University of Surrey and GBC as regards this ransom strip.”

The Lead Councillor’s response was as follows:

“Blackwell Park Limited (BPL), the wholly owned subsidiary of the University of Surrey charged with the development of Blackwell Park, has entered into Heads of Terms for an Option Agreement with the Council to purchase from the Council a small parcel of land necessary for the development. We are confident that the transaction meets our best value requirement and as the Local Planning Authority have reserved all rights and powers to determine or refuse any future planning application. 

The Council has commissioned a S123 valuation to confirm that the best value requirement is being met and Legal are finalising documentation for completion.

The Council in its role as Local Planning Authority (LPA) is now working with BPL to establish a Planning Performance Agreement and BPL is committed to lodging a planning application that meets the high expectations that the Guildford community is calling for and deserves.”

As a supplementary question, Councillor Bigmore asked the Lead Councillor to review whether it was appropriate for the matter in question, given the public interest in the site and the potential value to the Council,to be dealt with as an officer delegated decision thus avoiding formal scrutiny by a Committee of the Council.  In response, the Lead Councillor stated that the key challenge with this site was that its value was not yet known and that there was an option agreement using the Stokes and Cambridge method which would depend on the value of the sale of the Blackwall Farm site.  It would therefore be difficult to determine how it would navigate any governance procedure other than delegated authority.  The Lead Councillor indicated that he would discuss this with officers but did undertake to give councillors a briefing on the option agreement once the matter was a little closer to being finalised.

(b)    Councillor Catherine Young asked the Lead Councillor for Planning, Councillor Fiona White the following question:

“The NPPF at paragraph 61 states the following:

‘To determine the minimum number of homes needed, strategic policies should be informed by a local housing need assessment, conducted using the standard method in national planning guidance. The outcome of the standard method is an advisory starting-point for establishing a housing requirement for the area (see paragraph 67 below).  There may be exceptional circumstances, including relating to the particular demographic characteristics of an area which justify an alternative approach to assessing housing need; in which case the alternative approach should also reflect current and future demographic trends  ...  view the full minutes text for item CO118


Review of the Guildford Borough Local Plan: Strategy and Sites (2015-2034) pdf icon PDF 135 KB

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The Council was required to review the Local Plan: Strategy and Sites (LPSS) within five years of adoption to decide if an update to the Plan was required. Having considered changes in national planning policy, associated guidance and relevant legislation, as well as changes in circumstances affecting Guildford borough since the LPSS was adopted, officers had recommended that the Local Plan should be updated.

Changes identified and which supported a decision to update the LPSS included the level of local housing need based on Government’s standard method calculation, which differed significantly from the LPSS housing requirement; changes in the economy; slower progress toward delivery of several strategic sites than had been anticipated; and changes in planned delivery of supporting infrastructure such as the Guildford A3 scheme.

Furthermore, whilst many of the LPSS policies remained consistent with the National Planning Policy Framework (NPPF), there were changes in planning related legislation and guidance identified which supported a decision to update the LPSS. More fundamentally, however, the Government had proposed to introduce significant planning reform flowing, at least in part, from the recent publication of the Levelling Up and Regeneration Act 2023 (LURA). These changes, which included a new NPPF and National Development Management Policies and other regulations, would impact on plan-making to the extent that ‘new style’ Local Plans were proposed.

Should the decision to update the Local Plan be supported, a further report would be prepared to propose appropriate timing for and budgetary requirements of the Local Plan update. Importantly, this would consider planning reform proposals including the Government’s timescales for initiating ‘new style’ Local Plans alongside the impacts of changes on the nature and form of plans and supporting evidence. 

It was important to stress that the findings of this review did not change any elements of the LPSS. The LPSS remained part of the Council’s Development Plan, which was the primary consideration in terms of determining planning applications. Due weight would be given to policies according to their degree of consistency with the NPPF, which for the most part they were.

Upon the motion of the Lead Councillor for Planning, Councillor Fiona White, seconded by the Deputy Leader of the Council, and Lead Councillor for Regeneration, Councillor Tom Hunt, the Council


(1)    That the Guildford Borough Local Plan: Strategy and Sites (2015-2034) be updated following the findings of the review undertaken in accordance with Regulation 10A of the Town and Country Planning (Local Planning) (England) Regulations 2012 (as amended).

(2)         That a further report be submitted to the Executive at a later date to clarify the appropriate timing for and budgetary requirements of the Local Plan update, such report to follow the enactment of the national planning reform legislation and to consider its implications for the update process.


·      There was a statutory requirement to review the LPSS within 5 years of its adoption. This was to assess whether it needed updating. The review findings set out in the report had indicated that an update of the  ...  view the full minutes text for item CO119