Fringe Box



Letter: GBC Must Act to Enforce Existing RHS Overflow Car Park Restrictions

Published on: 6 Jun, 2023
Updated on: 6 Jun, 2023

From: Harry Salaman

Wisley village resident

In response to: We Must Be Vigilant Against the Threat of Creeping Urbanisation

The campaign of the RHS to increase massively its car parking areas beyond its main site by using green field sites within the hamlet of Wisley is a prime example of creeping urbanisation.

The plan is for the village sports ground, with a capacity for 1,000 cars, to be open up to 200 days a year. Battery charging points are to be provided, presumably to make it green, but that will not reduce the permanent damage to the green belt and the damage to Wisley, with its tiny beautiful, Grade I-listed Norman church.

The RHS had no planning permission for these car parks. They are only allowed to use the site up to 28 days a year. They also use The Orchard, with a capacity for 1,500 cars, and the field adjoining “Riverside.” These are green fields and will be ruined if allowed to become car parks.

Ramsey Nagaty was right, in his letter, to raise the issue of the failure of GBC to take enforcement action against the RHS. An enforcement file was opened last year but no action has been taken.

GBC must issue an enforcement notice and not simply be docile. Planning breaches must be enforced expeditiously to prevent others ignoring the planning laws. In the article Tory Councillor Resigns from GBC Planning Committee Saying: ‘I’ve Had Enough!’ David Bilbe stated GBC’s enforcement was “less than useless”. This is yet another example.

Alastair MacDonald, in his comment on June 3, highlights the hypocrisy of the RHS turning Wisley into a retail/theme park. It’s worse than that. The RHS campaigns for not using peat or pesticides and not mowing the grass look absurd when you see them now trying to turn large, green fields into massive car parks.

The RHS play constantly on the sympathy vote, that they are a charity. The reality is that RHS Wisley is a theme park/visitor attraction/garden centre. They just want to get bigger and have lost sight of what their charitable objects really are.

It is all about money, the RHS is a commercial enterprise. Many of their events have nothing to do with horticulture. Wisley village must not be harmed by the commercial interests of the RHS.

The RHS’s disregard for the village can be seen in the way they manage their residential properties. Long-standing tenants, employed by the RHS, have been forced to leave when their rents were raised a few years ago. That destroyed the local community.

Other properties have been left empty for years, including a listed building. They also used a greenfield site near to the sports ground as a composting area without planning permission. GBC let the RHS get away with this, and after 10 years, GBC granted them a certificate of lawful use.

If this application is approved, all the green fields will become permanent car parks in use all the time with a capacity for over 2,500 extra cars. There will be no enforcement of any restriction as to the number of days that car parking is permitted.

This application must be refused. The RHS must be restricted to 28 days use and this must be enforced by GBC.

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