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1,700 Homes on Former Airfield at Wisley – Plan Revealed to the Public

Published on: 9 May, 2022
Updated on: 9 May, 2022

Wisley Airfield plans. Image taken from Taylor Wimpey and Vivid presentation material

By Emily Coady-Stemp

local democracy reporter

Plans to build 1,700 homes on the former Wisley Airfield have been unveiled to residents at a public exhibition.

The presentation by developers Taylor Wimpey was held in Ripley as part of their public consultation for plans on the land, ahead of an outline planning application being submitted.

The proposed development has been met with opposition by the Villages Against Wisley New Town group, who spoke to people arriving at and leaving the exhibition at the former Ripley Primary School last month (April 26).

The group is concerned that alongside plans for new homes in East and West Horsley, Clandon, Ripley, Garlick’s Arch and at the Howard of Effingham School site, there was not enough provision for better infrastructure in the area such as schools, doctors and to deal with sewage.

Also linked to the application is the delayed government decision on improvements to the M25/A3 interchange, Junction 10.

Click here for Junction 10 stories.

Chris Campbell from the group said there were “huge gaps in the provision for infrastructure”, including in an already over-subscribed sewage system in Ripley.

Chris Campbell from the ‘No to Wisley New Town’ group who are against the development at Wisley Airfield. Photo: Emily Coady-Stemp

He was also concerned about travel plans for the development, which he claimed could see as many as 5,000 new cars in the area, amid fears that people would not travel by bike and by bus.

Guildford Borough Council leader Joss Bigmore said the authority’s local plan required that any infrastructure necessary would be provided and available when first needed for residents, and that this would be further considered as part of the planning application process.

The site was used as an airfield from 1942 until 1972, its runways were converted to tarmac in 1952 and used to test aircraft built at Weybridge by Vickers.

In 2018, an appeal for a planning application on the land was dismissed. Guildford Borough Council, under its previous Conservative administration, removed the land from the green belt in its 2019 Local Plan and earmarked the site for the building of around 2,000 homes.

The Taylor Wimpey application is for the first 1,770 of those homes, with parts of the land being owned by two other landowners, CBRE and Hallam Land Management.

Under the proposal, the planned development would be split into three neighbourhoods: Stratford View, Upper Ockham and Upton End and 40 per cent of the homes would be affordable, according to Taylor Wimpey documents.

The outline planning application would include plans for a primary school, secondary school, medical centre and shops.

Julian Seymour, managing director planning communications for Taylor Wimpey, said the company was working with Thames Water and the borough council to find a suitable drainage strategy.

He said a drainage plan and accompanying technical reports would be submitted as part of the outline planning application.

Residents of the planned houses will pay an annual rent charge towards the running cost of the amenities in the development, which will be managed by a Stewardship Trust, a community trust with residents of the development on the board.

Taylor Wimpey could not confirm a ballpark figure for this rent charge.

Mr Seymour said: “It will be the responsibility of the community trust to manage the operating costs of the community assets and facilities at the development.

“Costs will be determined by the budget set by the community trust and they will reinvest any surpluses back into the trust to ensure that everything is well managed and maintained and to ensure resident charges are tightly managed.”

Councillor Julia McShane, deputy leader of the borough council and lead councillor for communities and housing, said rent and any service charges for communal areas should be at least 20 per cent less than local market rates for the affordable housing on the site.

She added: “Any financial assistance for a household to meet its housing costs would be assessed as part of the normal benefits system which is based on a household’s individual circumstances.”

Surrey County Council did not confirm the school provision for the development at the time of publication.

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test 7 Responses to 1,700 Homes on Former Airfield at Wisley – Plan Revealed to the Public

  1. Valerie Thompson Reply

    May 9, 2022 at 10:58 pm

    Let’s hope that the A3/M25 interchange gets shelved. Then, according to Government plans, this development should never happen.

    Incidentally, one of the earlier applications was turned down by GBC on 15 counts of unsuitability. Don’t those reasons still apply, in particular the narrowness of the road leading to Effingham station, where there is no footpath, no room for two large vehicles to pass and no room for a cycle lane?

  2. Aubrey Leahy Reply

    May 10, 2022 at 12:40 am

    How sad, all going to be built on when the best possible purpose for the land, community, county, country and environment would be to have it taken over and run by the Royal Horticultural Society.

  3. Jules Cranwell Reply

    May 10, 2022 at 6:13 am

    Taylor Wimpey is in no position to promise schools and a medical facility. The first is the purview of SCC, the second of the NHS.

    They are taking the public for fools.

    • Keith Reeves Reply

      May 10, 2022 at 3:01 pm

      Most readers cannot fail to be aware of Mr Cranwell’s long-standing opposition to development of this site. That’s fair enough. However, opposing arguments have to be rational, relevant and factually correct, if they are to be taken seriously.

      More often than not large housing developments are constructed with community facilities, be they educational, medical, retail and so on. Think of Merrow Park, Queen Elizabeth Park and Goldsworth Park. These proposals don’t just appear out of the ether. They arise from discussion during the lengthy planning and design process. It almost goes without saying that a local authority would require the construction of a school or schools on a very large housing development.

      As for a surgery/medical centre, Mr Cranwell appears to overlook the fact that GPs are independent contractors to the NHS, with practices owning or leasing premises. The buildings aren’t provided by the NHS.

      • Jules Cranwell Reply

        May 11, 2022 at 12:37 pm

        As Mr Reeves points out, GPs would have to elect to form a surgery at Wisley. Therefore Taylor Woodrow is still in no position to promise such. Where are these mythical GPs to magically appear from? There is a critical dearth of such in this part of the country.

        He may be happy to be an apologist for the greed of Taylor Woodrow but could he perhaps explain his motives? Does he perhaps have a personal interest?

        • Keith Reeves Reply

          May 12, 2022 at 5:22 pm

          My response to Mr Cranwell’s comment was factually correct and noted his right to disagree with a proposed development.

          He has now shifted his position to GPs being involved in the potential provision of a health centre rather than the NHS. Perhaps the developer is holding discussions that neither of us is aware of? I can imagine that if a hypothetical large development was proposed without community facilities, that would spark complaints too.

          The assertion in the second paragraph of Mr Cranwell’s response to my comment is presumptive, to say the least. There was nothing in my comment which indicated that I am an apologist for Taylor Wimpey (not Woodrow) and I have no personal interest. If I was pressed to express an opinion, it would be against the proposals and in favour of ultimately reinstating the runway etc. to arable land, if that is feasible.

          My only motive in this instance was to correct an error. Sadly my past experience of trying to do so on local media websites indicates that contributors are often unwilling to take advice or be corrected. This is especially so if they are entrenched in a position, despite my aiming to help focus their arguments.

  4. Ruth Brothwell Reply

    May 10, 2022 at 2:45 pm

    There are a couple of issues here.

    From previous planning applications, we know that the local schools are attended by non-catchment area children. This means that according to the catchment area policy of, say Send First School, pupils would get places because of the exclusion of other pupils.

    So, there is a sense in which local schools might take the children numbers.

    We know too that the local Send Surgery has S106 payments coming from other sites which enable them to build larger facilities to accommodate the extra people. This came up on the Garlicks Arch application.

    If the M25 J10/A3 plan is shelved then it won’t stop this planning application as there are plans to bring traffic out of the site in other ways. The alternative routes include one via the Ockham Roundabout. Unless a northern slip road is built at this roundabout all the traffic will drive through Ripley.

    We talked at the consultation about buses. They will pay for buses to link up to the existing services but are there any other services? As a user of Clandon station, I have never seen anyone arriving at Clandon station catching a bus home.

    There are lots of holes in this application.

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