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Elmbridge Borough Council Will Object To Wisley Airfield Plans

Published on: 14 Oct, 2022
Updated on: 14 Oct, 2022

By Emily Coady Stemp

Local democracy reporter

Cobham estate agents are “kicking their heels with joy” at the thought of the proposed 1,700 homes development at the former Wisley Airfield, says Elmbridge Borough Councillor, Alistair Mann.

A planning application has been submitted to Guildford Borough Council, with neighbouring Elmbridge set to formally object to the plans.

A meeting of Elmbridge Borough Council’s south area planning committee on Thursday, October 13, unanimously agreed to object to the plans because of the impact on roads, residents and wildlife.

The former airfield was included in Guildford’s local plan for 2,000 homes, and the current application is an outline plan for road access, with reserved matters on the first of the homes to come in a later application.

Elmbridge Borough Councillor Alistair Mann.

The vice chair of the Elmbridge Borough Council meeting, Cllr Alistair Mann (Cobham and Downside, Cons), said he was “vehemently opposed” to the application, he nonetheless said it should be noted that many Cobham businesses would welcome some development.

He said: “It potentially offers more growth, more business. Certainly the estate agents are kicking their heels with joy about it.”

Cllr Mann added that as a neighbouring authority, Elmbridge needed to ensure the council could make the “best gains” from any development which takes place.

Councillors raised concerns about how any section 106 money, paid by developers to help with the impact of new homes, could benefit Elmbridge.

Campaigners have raised concerns about wildlife at the site, which was echoed by councillors at the meeting.

The meeting also heard that the single track Plough Lane in Cobham, identified as an access site for the development, regularly flooded and councillors wanted more details on how the road could sustain the extra vehicles that would be using it.

Frances Porter, Imogen Jamieson and Chris Campbell of Villages Against Wisley New Town. Credit: Emily Coady-Stemp

Cllr Laurence Wells (Cobham and Downside, Lib Dem) called projections that the road could take more than 1,200 cars per hour “derisory” and said Surrey County Council as the highways authority needed to look again at the traffic modelling.

He added: “This represents an unsustainable development in a wholly unsustainable location that is going to impact on the local area and biodiversity to a negative degree.”

Cllr David Lewis (Oxshott and Stoke D’Abernon, Cons) said he was concerned the objection as set out by officers didn’t go far enough and the impact on local roads especially could be “beefed up”.

He said he did not think any works on the airfield should start until nearby works to upgrade junction 10 of the M25 had been completed.

Cllr Lewis added: “With two major projects running in parallel the amount of disruption and inconvenience that would be caused would be totally unacceptable.”

Councillors also raised concerns about the allocation of school places, with Cobham Free School over-subscribed, and Cllr Judy Sarsby (Weybridge Riverside, Lib Dem) raised concerns about a lack of nursery places within the development despite it being targeted at young families.

She claimed a lack of nursery provision within the new town would push parents into their cars to get to childcare in the surrounding area.

Plans for the town will include retail, health facilities and schools as well as eight gypsy and travellers pitches.

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