Fringe Box



Controversial Wisley Airfield Site Bought By Developer Taylor Wimpey

Published on: 12 Mar, 2020
Updated on: 12 Mar, 2020

In a significant move indicating increasing confidence that the controversial development will go ahead, housebuilder, Taylor Wimpey, has completed the purchase of the Wisley airfield site.

Plan for the phased development of the former Wisley airfield site (April 2017) as shown on the Wisley Property Investment Ltd website.

The 284-acre site near the M25 on the A3, which includes a redundant air strip, was refused planning permission in June 2018 on appeal after an application for nearly 2,000 homes by the then owners of the site, Wisley Property Investments Ltd. had been refused permission by the council in April 2016.

The development received a boost when it was included in the Guildford Local Plan which was adopted by the council just a week before the local elections in May 2018.

The contentious site went through a judicial review and was even raised in Parliament by Sir Paul Beresford MP in the so called ‘Russia Row‘.

A spokesperson for Guildford Borough Council said: “We have no further comment to make,” on the purchase of the land by Taylor Wimpey.

Cllr Colin Cross.

Colin Cross (R4GV, Lovelace), who has been a consistent critic of the scheme, said that R4GV broadly welcomed the involvement of Taylor Wimpey after several years of somewhat fruitless efforts to make any meaningful progress with the former site owners.

He said: “Taylor Wimpey have clearly stated they want to work closely with local residents and listen closely to the needs of the local communities and this has been sadly lacking to date.

“Presumably Taylor Wimpey are fully aware of the many other constraints that exist with this site and we must therefore look forward to a fresh new approach and an ongoing, constructive dialogue from all sides, which has been long overdue.”

Cllr Paul Spooner.

Conservative Group Leader at GBC, Paul Spooner (Ash South & Tongham), said: “We acknowledge that the adopted Local Plan was divisive and split our community but it was important for Guildford to have a Local Plan to protect the borough.

“The legal challenges are now at an end and it is important that strategic sites provide the highest standards of sustainable development with the highest quality place making with great design and excellent new facilities for the existing as well as the new community.

“In particular we expect delivery of key infrastructure requirements prior to delivery of much needed new housing, including 40% affordable housing as per the adopted Local Plan.

“We will hold the current administration to account to ensure that an exemplary development is delivered at the former airfield site.”

A statement from the new owners, Taylor Wimpey, said it will work closely with Guildford Borough Council, Surrey County Council and local residents to develop plans to build a new and sustainable community to support the local authority in meeting its housing needs.

Taylor Wimpey has worked with estate agents Savills to complete the acquisition of the site, and will be working alongside VIVID, who have several sites in an around Guildford including at the cathedral to deliver the affordable housing provision.

Lee Bishop, managing director at Taylor Wimpey, said: “We understand the importance of listening to the needs and feedback of local communities and will be working closely with local residents and stakeholders as we look to shape our plans for this new community.”

Ian Fowler of Savills, said: “The new sustainable community will contribute hugely to unmet housing need, providing homes for people living and working in the local area.

“Guildford has seen strong growth in both the commercial and residential sectors over the last 10 years, delivering economic output at a rate well ahead of other comparable towns.”

Details of the first public consultation event, where the local community can review and comment on the proposals for the redevelopment of the airfield, will be released later this year.

Aerial photograph of the site marked in red of the proposed development. From Guildford Borough Council’s planning officers’ report.

(See also ‘Wisley campaigners confident they can defeat new garden village proposal‘)

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Responses to Controversial Wisley Airfield Site Bought By Developer Taylor Wimpey

  1. Jules Cranwell Reply

    March 12, 2020 at 9:39 am

    The Heathrow plan has been judged illegal, due to a conflict with the UK climate commitment and the Paris agreement. It stands to reason that this development, and the other local plan sites will also be ruled illegal, on the same grounds.

    Nice to hear that Spooner will hold the new engine to account given he thrust this local plan upon us days before the election, and has insisted on the inclusion of the Wisley site.

    He can do nothing to ensure the 40 % so called ‘affordable’ as his plan includes ‘get of jail free’ loophole, on the basis of ‘financial viability’. Taylor Wimpey is also well aware of this. Perhaps he should keep his own counsel on the subject.

  2. John Perkins Reply

    March 12, 2020 at 1:19 pm

    The developer is boasting of proposing to include 50 hectares of Suitable Alternative Natural Greenspace (SANG), which it claims will assist in preserving the surrounding areas, including the Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area.

    It won’t cost them much to include this small artificial park with a footpath, parking spaces and bike racks on an area which they would be obliged to leave undeveloped anyway. However, it will save them having to pay SANG tariffs to GBC of probably more than £10 million.

    An e-petition has been started on the GBC website calling on the council to remove the site from its Local Plan.
    It’s title is “Call to update Guildford’s bloated Local Plan to meet climate emergency” and it can be found at

    GBC does not have a good record of taking notice of its residents, but it might help if large numbers of people sign this petition.

    • Jim Allen Reply

      March 12, 2020 at 3:52 pm

      If 80,000 comments made no difference, do you honestly think a petition after the fact will change anything?

      A petition over what would be additional users of our overloaded foul water system until the Slyfield situation is truly agreed, including increased pipe sizes across our borough, would make more sense.

      • John Perkins Reply

        March 14, 2020 at 9:04 am

        No, I don’t honestly believe it will make any difference, but that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be attempted.

        Politicians need to be informed when their grandiose plans will not win them popularity.

        Following the pattern established in recent years, what I believe will happen is that the developer will submit a new application to GBC, who will refuse it, perhaps quoting local opposition.

        The developer will then appeal to the Secretary of State who’s “independent” inspector will overturn the decision, absurdly using the SANG as a reason in its favour.

        Residents will then be invited to launch another expensive and futile judicial review.

  3. Richard Ellis Reply

    March 12, 2020 at 5:41 pm

    Cycled many many times on this disused airfield over the last 20 years…. a sitting duck for greedy developers and ruining the local countryside as well as ruining shops in local area, apart from adding to the road congestion in Cobham as well as the Wisley area.


  4. Hazel Barker Reply

    March 12, 2020 at 6:41 pm

    I really hope this development is squashed as it will have a massive effect on our local village life.

    There’s is no infrastructure in place, also a rubbish bus service. We don’t need any extra houses being built in this area. We will be suffocated if this development goes ahead.

    The owners of the Wisley site are just out to make money. They do not care for the feelings of the local residents who live here, in my opinion.

    I wish the owners of the Horsley site (Htatchford End) would give up and sell up to the council, or alike.

    I feel that this development would be a real disaster for the local surrounding areas, which are already suffering (in my opinion) from over development.

    We really need to put a stop to the development in special areas of the Surrey Hills.

  5. Sue Reeve Reply

    March 13, 2020 at 7:24 am

    It is interesting to note that since the Local Plan was rushed through last year, and thus removal of the Horsleys from the green belt, there have been a number of planning applications in the Horsleys for small developments.

    Many applications for small numbers of houses will amount to quite a large number of houses. All these developments, by the way, for large houses, not the type of housing we need in the villages – ie smaller and lower cost or housing association homes and downsizer homes.

    A striking feature of the local plan was the low expectation in the number of “windfall” housing.

    What on earth did GBC expect, and what were they thinking when they took us out of the green belt, of course people will cash in and build!

    Our villages are already going to be ruined with almost 500 new homes on three sites assigned in the local plan. Although the three sites do not add up to 500 in the plan, It will be 500 by the time the developers have cried ‘viability’ and increased their original allotment of housing numbers.

    Adding lots of small developments will only add to the ruination of the villages. No mention of infrastructure anywhere either. Horsley alone is very likely to deliver a very lage proportion of the windfall which was set unrealistically low in the first place.

    The addition of The Wisley development in the least sustainable part of our borough is adding insult to injury.

    • Harry Eve Reply

      March 13, 2020 at 10:08 am

      It underlines the failure of the Government’s planning policy to achieve anything positive. The Guildford Local Plan is a classic example of bad planning and needs to be reviewed as a matter of urgency.

      I find it extraordinary that the Lib Dems are resisting an urgent review. There is an e-petition on the GBC website which requests such a review.

  6. Gordon Bridger Reply

    March 13, 2020 at 3:19 pm

    John Perkins claims that developers, by proving some 50 hectares of Special Areas of Natural Green Space which the Council claims are essential to “protect the breeding population of three wild birds species (nightjar, woodlark and Dartford warbler – which are threatened from greater recreational pressure by the local population)”, are saving them some £10m.

    This could be significant underestimate.

    Large scale developers negotiate “bespoke solutions” which entail considerable costs as they have to provide funds for 125 years, but since they can then deduct these costs from payments for affordable housing or environmental improvements, they are finding it a convenient nil cost solution.

    However the three bird species they are designed to protect were “effectively wiped out in a cold spell in 2008/9” (GBC Officer), and there is no evidence that local residents have had any adverse impact on the bird population.

    Officers then claimed that SANGS were still necessary to protect the habitat of these birds an argument somewhat weakened by Natural England recently awarding Surrey Wildlife Trust, their “Highest Award for heathland management” and are encouraging visitors to these sites (Wisley /Ockham and Whitmoor Common). They seem to have forgotten their reasons for SANGS.

    Under these circumstances a council does not have to provide SANGS if “there is no significant impact on an Special Protection Area”.
    Naturally the vested interests who benefit from this policy are not happy as they misled us councillors when it was introduced that it was an obligatory EU policy – which it was not. Dogs on leads was an alternative.

    This 125 year policy according, to the GBC development, could generate anything between £68m and £98m. Bespoke plans will apply in most cases so who knows what the cost will be – but those who will be losers will, be those in need of affordable housing or better environmental improvements.

    I thought Dominic Raab might be interested when he was responsible for Housing, and he replied but stated that “it was a European Directive and he could not do anything about it”. Wrong – but it illustrates the power of our bureaucracy.

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