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Letter: Developer Profit Seems to Drown Obvious Reasons Why Ockham Isn’t Suitable for Building

Published on: 17 Jan, 2021
Updated on: 17 Jan, 2021

From: Ben Paton

In response to: M25 Junction 10 Decision Delayed By Secretary Of State

GBC’s 2014 Settlement Hierarchy ranked Ockham at 31 out of 32 settlements, almost the least sustainable site in the borough.

The site is hemmed in by a Special Protection Area and the M25 to the north, by the A3 and RHS Wisley to the west, by Elmbridge Borough Council and the River Mole watershed to the east and by the Ockham Conservation Area and the green belt to the south. There is no space for future expansion.

A new town here would be 100% car-dependent. Yet injecting up to 4,000 cars into this part of the Strategic Road Network between London and Portsmouth and Heathrow and Gatwick during the rush-hour will create further traffic chaos.

GBC’s Green Belt and Countryside Study states that the site must have a minimum of 2,000 dwellings or nearly 5,000 people to justify building any new facilities. But the net area of the site is only around 60ha. That’s 0.6 of a square kilometre, allowing an average population density of more than 8,000 people per square kilometre.

The average population density for the whole of Guildford borough is 508 people. The most densely populated ward has only a density of 2,200 people. The population density of the built-up area of Greater London is “only” c 5,600 per square kilometre.

WIPL planned for huge blocks of flats all along the highest part of the site that would be visible from Guildford. The minimum average housing density would be 32 dwellings per hectare (100m x 100m). Parts of the site would have a housing density of more than 80 dwellings per hectare.

It makes no sense to put these unprecedented densities of population and housing into a confined site immediately adjacent to a Special Protection Area and a Conservation Area and on top of a Site of Nature Conservation Importance.

Intellectual dishonesty has been the hallmark of WIPL’s and GBC’s approach to this site. For example, the Site of Alternative Natural Green Space (SANG) is described by WIPL in its advertising as a “park” to rival Guildford’s Stoke Park. But the purpose of the SANG is not to be a park but to alleviate human pressure on the Special Protection Area.

Since the SANG is adjacent to the SPA and multiple public footpaths lead directly into it, the SANG will not be fit for purpose.

In 2017, an associate of Taylor Wimpey (TW) described the site as “trying to fit a pint into a quart pot”. It has a much more sustainable site at Flexford. TW failed to complete basic due diligence on the site before going into partnership with WIPL.

The only thing this site has ever had in its favour has been “development profits”, private gain at the expense of public investment in inadequate road infrastructure, destruction of green infrastructure and common heritage.

More than £750m of projected house sales and £150m of projected profits seem to have been too great a temptation.

Will people thank GBC and WIPL when they are sitting in traffic jams around J10?

The only idea of our elected representatives so far has seemed to be to fall over backwards to facilitate the wrong development in all the wrong places.

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test 4 Responses to Letter: Developer Profit Seems to Drown Obvious Reasons Why Ockham Isn’t Suitable for Building

  1. Di Garnett Reply

    January 18, 2021 at 4:33 pm

    Well said.

    Why is it that one feels one might as well be blowing into the wind pointing out how corrupt and destructive these plans are? But it seems the plans are just pushed through.

    They seem to benefit no one but the developers.

    Those making the profits should be forced to live there.

  2. Valerie Thompson Reply

    January 19, 2021 at 6:53 pm

    I wonder whether GBC will take any notice of the 155 objections to proposals to build 139 houses on mainly farmland at Manor Farm, West Horsley. There are just five supporters of the plan.

    I expect the objections will be swept aside, like all the others have been in the area, such as Wisley, turned down by the Secretary of State, objected to unanimously on 15 counts by GBC councillors and still in GBC’s plan for the borough.

  3. John Perkins Reply

    January 20, 2021 at 9:22 am

    With regard to the SANG, however WIPL describes in its glossy brochures, it’s actual purpose is to avoid paying SANG fees to the local authority.

    In the case of this development, the fees would likely amount to more than £10 million, whereas making the area into a pretty park would cost only £100,000 or so.

    Indeed, as it’s very unlikely the developer would be given permission to build within the 400-metre zone, there is little else it could be used for.

    On top of that, as pointed out by the late Gordon Bridger, any SANG charges paid can be offset against Section 106 or CIL payments, leaving even less for the new infrastructure which will be needed.

    One final note. The purpose behind SPAs is to limit the effect on them by people and their dogs. In this case, the major threat would be from cats, initially domesticated, but probably feral over time.

    A population of 5,000 people is likely to own 2,000 cats, which is more than enough to wipe out the ground-nesting birds. The developer proposed a warden to keep them away from the SPA. That’s right: a cat herder.

  4. Bibhas Neogi Reply

    May 26, 2021 at 10:51 pm

    Taking the improvement of the M25 Junction 10 on its own, leaving aside the issues of the proposed Wisley development, I would like to raise the questions of cost, impact on traffic during construction and afterwards, and environmental impact of the chosen option.

    Since the scheme has now been put on hold, and if it is delayed further, maybe there is an opportunity to examine an option not considered by Highways England (HE) and its consultant that I believe would be a cheaper and much less disruptive option during construction. It would also separate out the A3 and the M25 traffic on slip roads and produce a much safer and better solution.

    I realise it is rather late in the day but I had not given much thought to this project until now, as I had assumed the 21 options that HE had explored must have been exhaustive.

    Basically, my suggested solution keeps the M25 off-slips in tunnels and separated from mixing with the A3 traffic at the junction. I have written to HE about my suggestion and await their reply. I hope there is still time to evaluate it and that there are no constraints that preclude this solution.

    My general website is, –
    http://www.spanglefish.com/revampguildfordgyratory/
    and the sketches for possible A3 solutions including that for the M25 Junction 10 are in
    https://tinyurl.com/A3-solutions

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