Live Planning Event – Cllr Jan Harwood, Guildford Borough Council

The guest of Chelgate Local’s sixth Live Planning Event was Deputy Leader of Guildford, Cllr Jan Harwood, who presented an optimistic outlook on council’s future as it progresses its local plan and climate change priorities.

Cllr Harwood credits Guildford council’s current ‘remarkably good’ performance with the programme of restructuring that took place before the pandemic sent the nation into a lockdown. The council has been able to deliver its services efficiently, including the planning department, which has been receiving a steady flow of planning applications.

Guildford is at a critical stage of its local plan process with a seven-week consultation on its Local Plan’s Development Management Policies starting in early June. It was one of the first councils to formally allow for digital consultation in its Statement of Community Engagement. But should the social distancing measures continue to be in place for some time, it faces an issue in carrying out consultation at reg 19 stage, where face to face engagement is required. Cllr Harwood is keen to promote a change in legislation to allow for the process to be ‘contactless’ and Guildford Council is already looking at ways to make this possible.

The pandemic is and its effects on the economy will undoubtedly challenge the council’s priorities of addressing the climate emergency. As Lead Councillor for Climate Change, Cllr Hardwood rejects the notion of measuring climate change policies against the economy and sees the two as complementing each other. While with little detail yet, the Council is already setting out broad requirements for energy use or design for sustainable travel when considering planning applications.

Energy infrastructure is particularly high on Guildford’s priority list as it currently cannot sustain the amount of development that has already been consented. Moving forward, Cllr Harwood hopes that Guildford will be able to transform its approach to energy while ensuring that the climate change agenda is being taken forward.

 This was the sixth of a series of Live Planning Events hosted by Chelgate Local.For more details on past and upcoming events please visit our website.

For more information on Chelgate Local’s contactless consultation please visit our website or get in touch with Mike Hardware at or (0)20 7939 7989.