Fringe Box



Ingrid Tarrant on Wisley Campaign: It is ‘Not About a Nimby Attitude to Development’

Published on: 31 Jan, 2023
Updated on: 1 Feb, 2023

Ingrid Tarrant at the former Wisley airfield, campaigning against the “Wisley New Town” proposals. Photo Grahame Larter, Surrey Live

By Emily Coady-Stemp

local democracy reporter

TV personality Ingrid Tarrant has joined the fight against a new town on the former Wisley Airfield, saying the new residents would be “invading and conquering” the rural community.

A planning application for more than 1,700 homes plus shops, schools and open spaces, has been submitted to Guildford Borough Council for the land next to the A3.

Campaigners have spoken out against the plans, which they say will cause the loss of valuable agricultural land, will harm wildlife and will impact on traffic and local infrastructure.

Ingrid, the former wife of Chris Tarrant, who has lived in Surrey for 30 years and now lives just outside Ockham, said if the application can be defeated she hopes it will be a “test case” and a “template for other villages and rural areas to follow”.

She’s concerned about the impact on the environment, including the trees that would be lost, the wildlife on the land and the fields that are still farmed.

Worried the plans amount to “urbanising a rural place” she said if the development goes ahead she’s worried the birdsong and wildlife would disappear.

“That takes away the beauty of countryside living,” she said.

‘New residents immediately overtaking local community’

Having previously walked her dogs and gone horse riding on the former airfield, which she describes as “the lungs of London”, Ingrid said the social aspect of the land is also important.

She told the LDRS (Local Democracy Reporting Service): “You get people coming from all sides of the compass because it’s a beautiful big open space.”

Wisley Airfield plans. Image: Taylor Wimpey and Vivid

A Taylor Wimpey spokesperson said the plans would turn the site, including the concrete former runway, into a “vibrant community” with parks, play areas, new schools, shops, sports and healthcare facilities.

The spokesperson added: “This key infrastructure, which is not currently available locally, will be for the benefit of existing and new residents.”

The land has been allocated for up to 2,000 homes in Guildford Borough Council’s Local Plan, but Ingrid has doubts about how the area would cope with such an influx of new residents.

With the number of new residents “immediately overtaking” the current local community, she described the effect as “like an invasion”.

She added: “A lot of these people [will] have suburban or urban mentalities, they’re not going to put up with tractors slowing up the traffic on the road.”

Tarrant who has appeared on several TV reality shows and GB News, pointed to the history of farming on the land and said the current community shared the same values about the importance of nature, and about “being independent and self-sufficient”.

She said the women in the area, herself included, might look “lovely, have their hair done and their nails done” but they still fit into the lifestyle.

“[We might] just as easily step out of the hairdresser or designer clothes shop, go in to the garden and start chopping wood,” she said.

“We’re very resourceful, and this is country living.”

She also said the plans amounted to a “raping of the land” in the farming community.

Ingrid said her concerns were about future generations, not about her and not about a Nimby attitude against development.

She added; “I’ve got a much greater vision than that. This is about the future of agriculture, nature, environment, children, livelihoods, mental health.”

Apart from those aspects, she said the unlit, windy rural lanes would struggle to cope with the additional traffic, which would also be “dangerous” for those walking or cycling on them.

Ingrid Tarrant recently featured in Daily Mail and Daily Express (pictured) articles on the campaign against the development of the former Wisley airfield

See also: Wisley Campaigners Grab National Press Headlines

Wisley Airfield plan is developer’s ‘most environmentally friendly sites’

The Taylor Wimpey spokesperson said the development would be one of the company’s most environmentally friendly sites to date, with new wildlife habitats, 10km of walking routes, sustainable travel measures such as buses to nearby railway stations and 6,700 new trees.

They added: “We’ll use heat pumps and solar panels and there will be no gas boilers.

“Homes will be highly-insulated, zero carbon ready with low-energy lighting and a selection of low-use water fittings.

“We will improve the local road network either directly or through funding. This will control existing vehicle speeds, improving road safety and amenity for all road users.

“Transport modelling shows that the development will not have a severely adverse effect on local roads.”

The spokesperson said two years of engaging with councils, the community and statutory consultees meant issues such as air quality, transport and drainage had all had “detailed assessment”.

They added: “We are delighted to support Guildford Borough Council by delivering much-needed housing as part of a new sustainable community, in line with council policies.”

A Guildford Borough Council spokesperson said: “The land at the former Wisley Airfield is allocated for development in the Guildford Borough Local Plan: Strategy and Sites.

“The planning application submitted by Taylor Wimpey is still under consideration, therefore we are unable to give a view on the proposals at this time.”

The application is due to be heard by the borough council’s planning committee before April 5.

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