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Letter: Failure to Extend Deadline Is an Affront to Both the Public Interest and Common Decency

Published on: 14 Sep, 2022
Updated on: 14 Sep, 2022

Wisley Airfield plans. Image Taylor Wimpey and Vivid

From: David Roberts

See also: Delay to Consultation on Planning Application for Wisley Airfield

It’s an old but familiar trick: Taylor Wimpey finally submitted their monster planning application for 1,700 houses at Wisley “Airfield” during the summer holidays, presumably in the hope that the pesky public wouldn’t notice.

After local protests, Guildford council extended the period for comments on the application (22/P/01175) by just two weeks, to October 3.  But since then, we have gone into a long period of national mourning.

While government across the nation is at a standstill, Guildford council insists the deadline cannot be further extended.  Instead of mourning the late Queen, we are apparently expected to be ploughing through the 355 documents with which Taylor Wimpey hope to bulldoze this application past local opinion.

This is an affront to both the public interest and common decency.  Residents have a fortnight left to comment on an application that has been years in the making.  The stakes could hardly be higher: billions in profits for the developers and no green field in the country left safe from predation.

So why do council planning officers wish to leave no time for a thoughtful and high-quality response from the public?  Once again, the stink of systemic pro-developer bias in GBC’s planning department is overwhelming.

The department’s arguments are almost comical.  They say the deadline can’t be moved because they are in mourning too.  They say that asking Taylor Wimpey to wait would require them to delay all other planning applications, when patently the opposite is true: residents are furious about the backlog in small, uncontentious applications while council resources are distracted by huge developments.

Finally, they say that some comments may still be accepted after the statutory deadline has passed, an ambiguous position that will encourage people to think that they have missed the boat for objections.

Either October 3 is a deadline or it isn’t.  Scarred by past experience, many already think the application has been stitched up with council officers and that there is no point in commenting at all.

A planning application of this exceptional size and impact requires months of serious public scrutiny.  The rush shows that council planning officers are out of order and out of control.

For once, council leaders should put their foot down and call the developers’ bluff over any theoretical possibility of legal challenge on non-determination grounds.  Hang the consequences: in the interests of better final decision-making, they should take the moral high ground, side with the public and postpone the deadline for comments to next year.

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test 10 Responses to Letter: Failure to Extend Deadline Is an Affront to Both the Public Interest and Common Decency

  1. Valerie Thompson Reply

    September 14, 2022 at 4:51 pm

    This application is available to look at if you access the Guildford Planning portal, application no. 22/P/01175.

    Unfortunately, only 16 people have bothered to comment, several of which are in approval.

    If you feel strongly about trying to stop this appalling development then write a comment.

    However, if you read my own comment you will realise that stopping the GBC Planning Committee going ahead with its approval is an unlikely event. One application in West Horsley had over 160 objections and the huge housing estate was given approval.

  2. Ben Paton Reply

    September 14, 2022 at 8:06 pm

    Typical of Guildford Borough Council. Every ready to promote developers’ interests. Never ready to work for local residents.

  3. Susan Irvine Reply

    September 15, 2022 at 5:56 pm

    I wholeheartedly agree with David Roberts, especially regarding the “summer holiday” tactic for the submission of plans. I’ve known neighbours to do this.

    It’s a large site and needs careful scrutiny as does the behaviour of those involved with taking the planning decision.

    The question is why are GBC in a hurry for this to move on if they are busy with smaller applications? Giving extra time for the Taylor Wimpey objections would provide a breathing space to clear any backlog.

    Perhaps Taylor Wimpey are afraid public opinion will be against them.

  4. J Dickinson Reply

    September 15, 2022 at 10:32 pm

    There are now representations from two statutory consultees (National Highways and Surrey CC) to have an extension:

    “Statement of Reasons

    “National Highways are currently reviewing the associated transport evidence and are in discussion with Surrey County Council, as local highway authority, and the Applicant regarding the current planning submission.

    “Recommendation

    “National Highways recommends that Local Planning Authority does not grant planning permission for the application for a period of 56 days (Until 3 November) Ref: 22/P/01175 from the date of this recommendation to enable further assessment to be undertaken and confirmation of the latest position.

    “Reason: To allow National Highways to understand the impact of the development on the safe and efficient operation of the Strategic Road Network and provide the Local Planning Authority with fully informed advice.”

  5. Frances Porter Reply

    September 16, 2022 at 11:14 am

    Well said David Roberts. How can GBC expect normal residents who will be seriously affected by this application to have any chance of reading the huge amount of documents in such a short space of time? Even local parish councils and residents associations need more time to attempt this huge feat.

    It does make a mockery of the rush to push this through when all other normal planning applications are held up.

    Has anyone else seen the sandbags outside the latest development at Bell & Coville, poor Lollesworth Fields new residents will certainly have to face the same fate. It is well known how that area suffers from flooding. I hope the statutory bodies who say that flooding will not be a problem will be sued for their negligence.

  6. Jules Cranwell Reply

    September 18, 2022 at 6:38 am

    National Highways does not need 56 days to review the impact of this development. It is self-evident that it would be a disaster of epic proportions.

  7. Valerie Thompson Reply

    September 18, 2022 at 5:33 pm

    Please take the time to comment on this planning application. At present only 16 people have bothered to write and some of those are in favour. This development will be a disaster for the area. Guildford Borough Council made incorrect decisions on how many houses were needed over the next five years and have refused to retract their excessive numbers. This development is not needed.

  8. David Roberts Reply

    September 18, 2022 at 5:53 pm

    Be fair. National Highways probably do need 56 days to dream up reasons to approve the project. They routinely agree with any development proposal put in front of them, sometimes with one or two token conditions for the developers to meet.

    Likewise Surrey Highways, under the direction of Surrey County Cllr Matt Furniss, who was deputy leader of Guildford Borough Council when the Tories were in charge. He and his then boss, Cllr Paul Spooner, who still leads the Tory group on the council, are the culprits chiefly to blame for the hated Local Plan that labelled Wisley “airfield” a strategic development site. Cllr Furniss’s department has, I believe, never objected to a single development proposal brought forward under the plan.

    Editor’s comment: responsibility for Highways within the SCC cabinet has recently been transferred to Cllr Kevin Deanus.

    • Harry Eve Reply

      September 20, 2022 at 1:00 pm

      There is an important distinction between National Highways which is only responsible for the strategic road network (A3 & M25) and SCC who are responsible for the local road network.

      Thank you, editor, for pointing out the change in cabinet role. Let us hope that there is also a change for the better regarding the interpretation of what constitutes sustainable development and the recognition of roads infrastructure issues in planning.

  9. Chris Campbell Reply

    September 20, 2022 at 4:18 pm

    Well said everyone – all against so far unsurprisingly.

    If anyone would like help in making an objection Villages Against Wisley New Town (VAWNT)are collating grounds for objection in a template letter.

    If you would like to be sent a copy when completed hopefully in the next week please contact VAWNT on vawnt.group@gmail.com

    We need as many objections in front of GBC as possible of course, with the council having approved 1,500 hoses with app 3 miles of this site already.

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