Guildford green belt homes 'alert' to residents

Developing green belt land may be necessary to get enough new homes built in the Guildford area, the borough council has said.

The council says it needs 322 new homes a year until 2030 to comply with government targets and is to ask local people where they should go.

Councillor Stephen Mansbridge said he wanted to warn people that green belt land may have to be used.

"This may well become a reality and we need to be prepared for that," he said.

Housing deficit

Guildford won a legal challenge in 2009 against the then Labour government's target of 2,000 new homes on green belt land to the north east of the borough.

The target was part of the South East Plan, which was scrapped in 2010.

Council leader Mr Mansbridge said the figure of 322 new homes a year was based on the "historic data" contained in the South East Plan and was an "interim" target.

The council is to set out a new housing target in 2014, and is to ask residents where they want homes to be built.

Empty property

"We have a very, very strong feeling about being immensely careful how we move forward with this," he said.

Mr Mansbridge said people would be given a "hierarchy" of options, starting with brown field sites in the town centre, and ending with rural green field sites.

"We have got to be very robust in terms of how we look at empty property and we have got to use up everything we can before we start encroaching on things," he said.

"But there are areas where it is acceptable to build.

"Actually expanding a village with a small development of houses may improve the micro economy of that village."

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