Fringe Box



Date Set for Wisley Airfield Planning Application Debate, But Councillors Won’t Have Final Say

Published on: 4 Jul, 2023
Updated on: 7 Jul, 2023

By Emily Coady-Stemp

local democracy reporter

However, a decision on the application for the former Wisley Airfield site, submitted by developers Taylor Wimpey, won’t be made by the borough council, but by a government inspector.

Taylor Wimpey lodged an appeal against the council for not making a decision on the site, meaning councillors will be debating its officers’ recommended refusal of the plans, but won’t have the final say.

Instead, an inquiry will take place and an inspector is expected make a decision, although the application could still be called in by the Secretary of State for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities, Michael Gove.

Though the land was set aside for 2,000 homes in Guildford Borough Council’s Local Plan, planning officers at the council concluded that the current application should not be approved.

Campaign group called Villages Against Wisley New Town pictured while objecting to the proposed development of 1,700 homes at the former Wisley Airfield. Guildford Borough Councillors will debate the application on Monday, July 10.

The plans had received 1,409 objections and 143 letters in support at the time officers preparing their report for the council’s planning committee meeting next week on July 10.

Council officers said that conflicts within the authority’s policies included concerns about the impact on the Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area because of changes in air quality and “recreational pressure” as well as concerns about wildlife at the site.

There were also concerns about road safety in the surrounding area and flood risks at the site.

The report stated: “Officers are not able to support the application at this time.

“The principle of the development of the site is supported by the local plan, but this is not at any cost.”

A previous application for 2,068 homes, submitted in 2015, was rejected at appeal in the summer of 2018, the most recent in a long line of applications at the site.

The non-determination appeal came about after further documents were submitted by Taylor Wimpey as part of the application, which required another round of public consultations, according to the meeting documents.

But with the borough council and the developer not able to agree on a new date for the application coming to the planning committee, an appeal was submitted on April 11, days after the previously agreed April 5 deadline.

As well as the council and the developer, the inquiry will hear from seven parties who have an interest in the site.

These include Ockham Parish Council with Wisley Action Group and the parish councils of Send, Ripley, East Horsley and West Horsley.

Two other landowners within the site allocated in Guildford’s Local Plan area will also give evidence regarding the “land at Bridge End Farm” and “land north of Ockham Lane”, the latter of which has a outline planning application submitted for 70 homes.

The full site proposed for development, as well as a part to the north but outside of it, have been removed from the green belt.

The site includes a former aircraft runway, originally a grass airstrip put down in 1943 and converted to a tarmac runway in about 1952.

The airfield was used as a dispersal site for Wellington bomber aircraft being constructed at nearby Brooklands and for experimental flight testing from May 1944.

The airfield was closed in 1972, but part of the concreted area is now being used by National Highways as changes are made to junction 10 of the A3 and M25, nearby.

Surrey County Council, as the highways authority, raised concerns in the application regarding the promotion of sustainable transport, and the impact on surrounding roads in terms of capacity and safety.

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Responses to Date Set for Wisley Airfield Planning Application Debate, But Councillors Won’t Have Final Say

  1. John Perkins Reply

    July 4, 2023 at 9:47 am

    Michael Gove will not need to call it in. Past experience of government inspectors is that approval of the application, on appeal, would be a foregone conclusion.

    One of these people will come from far away with no knowledge whatsoever of local circumstances and even less concern for them.

    They carry their long list of exams passed and courses undertaken after their names like medals. However that only serves to disguise the fact that they are little more than milk monitors doing teacher’s bidding.

    • Adam Aaronson Reply

      July 7, 2023 at 8:27 am

      A bit unfair on milk monitors, as they deliver something that is actually wanted, whereas the inspector is more likely to be delivering something that is not wanted!

  2. Jules Cranwell Reply

    July 5, 2023 at 5:05 am

    Can we expect a new video from Robin Horsley, “The Battle For Wisley”? I guess not. His job is done, having landed us unintentionally with an ineffectual Lib Dem council.

    The future of Three Farms Meadows is far more critical to the borough than a few storeys on some buildings on a derelict site in the town.

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