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UPDATED: ‘Affordable Homes’ At Wisley ‘New Town’ Would Cost First-Time Buyers £250,000

Published on: 10 Feb, 2016
Updated on: 12 Feb, 2016

The Wisley Action Group (WAG) has claimed that the minimum price of ‘affordable homes’ within the proposed ‘new town’ at Wisley would be “an incredible” £250,000.

WAG understands that this would represent a 20% government subsidy on a market price of just over £300,000.

Aerial view of the site as shown on the developer's website

Aerial view of the site.

WAG also understands that Michael Murray, acting for Wisley Property Investments Ltd (WPIL), has told Ockham Parish Council that some 40% of the 2,000-plus residences planned on green belt land at Three Farms Meadows, the former Wisley airfield, will be in the £250,000 bracket.

WAG reports that Mr Murray told an informal meeting recently: “We have looked at starter homes. We think that the 20% discount from open market won’t get to the cap for outside London. The cap for outside London is a quarter of a million pounds so we think that is fine for the one- or two-bedroom need. That is very clearly where Guildford’s needs sit.”

Mr Murray confirmed that WIPL planned up to 800 “affordable units”.

Malcolm Aish, a committee member of the Wisley Action Group said that proposed house prices in the quarter million range made a mockery of the concept of so-called ‘affordable homes’.

Wisley Airfield Plan

Wisley Airfield plan.

Mr Aish added: “Even after a massive 20% government subsidy, the homes proposed for first-time buyers in this ‘new town’ would be comparable to the cost of the average house in the UK – now approaching £300,000. And that’s most certainly not ‘affordable’.

“But then the indications are that if this Cayman Islands-based company ever managed to secure planning consent for their scheme, they’d merely sell it on to developers who’d be looking to maximise their investment.”

Mr Aish suggested that affordability for young buyers in Guildford was probably nearer the £150,000 mark.

He continued: “Unfortunately, Guildford Borough Council remains somewhat cagey about the formats they’ve employed to calculate housing need in the borough. So the important issue of affordability would benefit from urgent clarification.”

Since publication of this story on February 10, The Guildford Dragon NEWS has been sent a statement by Mike Murray, representing Wisley Property Investments.

He said: “Wisley Airfield contains the largest brownfield area in the Guildford green belt, and is an obvious place to provide the new homes that the area desperately needs.

“The council has identified that house prices in Guildford are now 14 times incomes, and only 781 new affordable homes were built in the area in the last decade.

“Wisley Airfield can deliver up to 800 affordable homes as part of a sustainable new community of up to 2,060 homes, shops, offices, parkland and sports pitches.

“This represents a substantial contribution towards all the affordable homes required in the borough in the next 10 years.

“The Government wants 20% of new homes to be starter homes for sale to first-time buyers – on this site this could be up to 400 of the up to 800 affordable homes, the remainder being in a variety of types and tenures, including affordable rent in line with guidance from Guildford Borough Council.

“The Government wants to cap starter homes at a maximum price £250,000 outside London, but we expect to see a range of prices under the cap depending on the type of home.”

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Responses to UPDATED: ‘Affordable Homes’ At Wisley ‘New Town’ Would Cost First-Time Buyers £250,000

  1. Jules Cranwell Reply

    February 11, 2016 at 8:21 am

    I don’t believe for a moment that WPI will be satisfied with homes of £300,000.

    They are committed to maximising the profits for their Cayman Islands based owners.

    I doubt there will be anything at less than £500,000, or £400,000 at the’affordable’ discount.

  2. Ben Paton Reply

    February 11, 2016 at 9:32 am

    This is not about providing affordable homes. It is about WPIL making a massive profit.

    It paid for agricultural land. Grade 2 and Grade 3 agricultural land, not the Grade 4 land it inaccurately describes in its planning statement.

    The price paid was £7 million.

    If it builds some 2,100 houses that works out at an average cost of land per dwelling of a bit over £3,000. If the lowest cost dwelling gets £250k, what will the highest cost dwelling get? What will WPIL’s profit be? A minimum of £150 million.

    The Conservative Party promoters of this project should stop masquerading as do-gooders only out the supply ‘much needed’ affordable housing. They are out to make money.

  3. Tony Edwards Reply

    February 11, 2016 at 11:15 am

    In reality, of course, if this off-shore, tax haven company ever achieved planning consent for their ‘new town’, they’d almost certainly sell the project on for a major profit and wash their hands of the catastrophic environmental consequences to the village of Ockham and the residents of Wisley, Ripley, Horsley, Effingham, Cobham and beyond.

    The issue of affordable housing would be long gone and forgotten.

  4. Jim Allen Reply

    February 11, 2016 at 3:33 pm

    In a book titled Enquire Within For Everything, written in about 1910, there is a section on borrowing.

    The advice back then was never borrow more than 3.5 times income.

    To buy one of these starter homes your salary will have to be £71,428.

    Even our own MP would struggle ‘to start’ at that price.

    So what chance the postman, dustman or car mechanic?

    Home owning is a dream too far from the reality of this money orientated world of today.

    Perhaps we should insist in the borough of Guildford that the buyer of any new home should occupy the property for five years.

    At least this would stop the ‘investor buyer’ buying small flats and leaving them empty – like they are rumoured to have done in Burpham.

    Thus reducing our available housing stock.

  5. Adrian Atkinson Reply

    February 12, 2016 at 9:37 am

    And they are small, I mean small.

    It was remarked at the GBC residents Q and A with Cllr Spooner and Cllr Billington this week, that these properties were half the size of the room we were all huddled in.

    There were roughly 40 of us, standing room only with Cllrs Barker and Cross on the sofas to the side.

    These will be bedsits at best if the comment re the size of these starter “homes” is correct.

    My student room at Liverpool University was about the same size.

    One has to also remember that the overall development is at the same level of density as Tower Hamlets.

    Something I wasn’t really aware of until it was raised at this meeting, is that the fact that the majority of the previously developed area of the site cannot be redeveloped for housing, school, clinics or anything because it is too close to the protected SPA at the north of the site.

    The application simple doesn’t hold water – at least the current grade 2 and 3 arable land does hold water reducing the risk of flooding.

    GBC would be reckless at best if it were to approve this application.

  6. Jim Allen Reply

    February 12, 2016 at 5:05 pm

    There is an article in that other local information source today which states: “The planning committee rejected the application of Guildford Road on grounds which included the scheme would not preserve the openness of the countryside and that it would exacerbate existing flooding issues.”

    I wonder why GBC are promoting the CLLR and Wisley when exactly the same applies to these two sites.

    Oh silly me, Guildford Road is in Ash.

  7. Adrian Atkinson Reply

    February 12, 2016 at 5:33 pm

    Mr Murray clearly sees things through green ($) tinted glasses.

    It’s not the most obvious place to build houses let alone small affordable bedsit type homes.

    It’s a congested, polluted area, next to the second worst junction of the M25, not sustainable in terms of public transport.

    It’s green belt.

    Highways England can’t fathom out the traffic numbers in the application.

    No jobs in the area.

    It would destroy the habitats of many endangered species of animals.

    The local road network (ie almost single-track lanes) is not suitable for this scale of development.

    The majority of the “brown bits” can’t be built on as they are too close to the protected SPA area to the north.

    Every parish and borough council who have responded to the consultation has objected despite elevating their own housing needs.

  8. Andrew Backhurst Reply

    February 15, 2016 at 11:18 am

    ‘New town’? It’s not really a town is it, only a plastic village?

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