West Surrey SHMA keeps numbers high

On 18th December the Strategic Housing Market Assessment (SHMA) for the West Surrey Housing Market Area (HMA) was published.

Summary Report:


Full Report:


IT IS WORTH REMEMBERING THAT THIS IS A CONSULTANT’S OPINION and whilst this will be adopted by the three local authorities (Guildford, Waverley and Woking) it is merely GL Hearn’s version of an Objective Assessment of Need (OAN).

The next stage of the process is to establish whether we can actually provide sufficient supply to meet the need, and this will require us to take a good look at the triangle of forces (housing, economy and infrastructure) restricted by availability of land and the constraints of Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), Thames Basin Special Protection Areas (SPA), Green Belt, Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), Flood Risk Areas and Cross-Boundary issues to name but a few.

It is not enough to simply say ‘No’ to development because NPPF requires us to plan positively.  Equally, it is not appropriate (based on the previous consultation process) to simply say ‘Yes’ to development which cumulatively meets the target number provided.  These next few months are critical to strike a balance (not necessarily a compromise) between going out, up or maintaining existing constraints.

Two images from the report is consistent with the criticisms of the dataset that have been made on this site and by others:




These charts show that, despite the Office for National Statistics protesting that their figures screen out students (by using their non-term-time addresses, there is very much a spike at undergraduate student age (Figure 17).

When that is applied to the data behind Figure 16, it seems there is still an expectation that, over a twenty year period those inward migrants have fallen in love, set up homes, and had children – a perfectly natural cycle but one which still seems exaggerated as a phenomenon.  It is also at this age when the gap between earnings and house prices is at its greatest, placing more urgency on providing affordable housing.

It will take much more reading than this to analyse the impact but the long and short of it is that GL Hearn consider there is minimal adjustment to make for the student demographics effect and arrive at a ‘draft conclusion on the overall need for housing’ in Guildford Borough at:

620 to 816 Homes per Year

…that is equivalent to 1.5 to 2 Solums in town every year or a Wisley every there to four years out of town.

It is now time to talk urgently about our CONSTRAINTS because very few people think we could actually cope with growth on this scale without completely changing our character and probably forfeiting a large portion of our quality of life.



Author: GuildfordPlan

GuildfordPlan is a 'whiteboard' set up by Julian Lyon to think out loud as part of the process of preparing the Guildford Society representations to the various Local Plan Consultations

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