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New Rural Economic Strategy supports local communities in shaping their futures

The Council has adopted a new Rural Economic Strategy aimed at protecting our natural and built heritage, sustaining our rural communities, and enabling enterprise and diversification in our changing countryside.

Vineyard Cllr Richard Billington, Lead Councillor for Rural Economy, Countryside, Parks and Leisure, says: "Guildford has always been a working, changing landscape, and this Strategy is laying positive foundations for a new community-based rural economy, complementing our new draft Local Plan. The aim is to build and develop sustainable communities through enterprise, infrastructure, innovation, landscape management, and improved quality of life - which will benefit us all."

Following a rural mapping exercise and business survey, five policy priorities were identified as being core to the local rural economy:

  • Affordable Housing and Sustainable Communities

  • Infrastructure for Enterprise

  • Landscape Management and Countryside Vision

  • Green Space, Health and Wellbeing for Better Quality of Life

  • Energy Policy, Generation and Supply

Cllr Billington adds: "A key factor of the Strategy is that it's designed to support local communities in shaping the future of their own towns and villages as sustainable places through affordable housing, new employment, enterprise opportunities and better local infrastructure, whilst preserving the borough's special landscape and environmental qualities."  

Covering the River Wey catchment, the strategy will link Parish Councils, businesses and other local organisations in rural Guildford, for example, Surrey Hills AONB, Surrey Wildlife Trust, University of Surrey, and also the neighbouring boroughs of Waverley and Woking. Continuous engagement between all these organisations on aspects of policy, planning and delivery, is key to the strategy.

Delivery of the Strategy will be monitored by Guildford Business Forum's Rural Group whose members include environmentalists, farmers, landowners and producers. A shared concern for the landscape around us will help people across the borough to become actively engaged in shaping a strong, longer-term rural economic strategy.

Published on Wednesday 10 May.