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Letter: Taylor Wimpey Promises the World at Wisley – But Will They Ever Deliver?

Published on: 28 Oct, 2023
Updated on: 28 Oct, 2023

Wisley Airfield plans. Image: Taylor Wimpey and Vivid.

From: Catherine Young

R4GV borough councillor for Clandon & Horsley

We are three weeks into the Taylor Wimpey (TW) Appeal of the Former Wisley Airfield proposed development, with another four to go. Many readers will recall that this appeal was started by TW who claimed non-determination by Guildford Borough Council.

See: Five Areas of Concern on Former Wisley Airfield Plan

Yet it was the very lack of submission of key documents by TW that meant the application could not be determined by GBC Planning Officers.  This has continued to be the case during the run-up to the appeal with documents submitted in July and virtually every week since, including during the appeal.

Even the Inspector has commented on this in the early stages, and in my view, this behaviour from TW is the very reason the appeal should be dismissed.

Many residents and groups (with a particular mention of the incredible work that VAWNT [Villages Against Wisley New Town], WAG [Wisley Action Group], and our parish councils are undertaking) have described and evidenced the significant harm that this development will bring to our local road network, our air quality, our environment and our local community.

Having also spoken at the appeal, I can vouch that this was some achievement and must be highly commended, especially when facing possible cross-examination from TW’s King’s Counsel.  We all sincerely hope that the Inspector has listened to these and taken note.

However, of greater concern are the promises that the developer is making should the appeal be allowed. These include new schools, medical facilities, affordable housing, a country park, community facilities, its own energy centre, no traffic congestion as everyone will be cycling, the list is endless.

Will they deliver? I have no confidence that they will, given the examples that are circulating of sites and facilities across the UK that have not been completed, and that the legal agreement of what they must provide to mitigate the effects of the development has not been agreed with Guildford Council.

So it was no surprise that I received this letter from a local resident who has been attending and watching the appeal closely.  Credit goes to its author a resident of West Horsley, who sums up what it might be like to live on the new Taylor Wimpey development if it is allowed…

A Glimpse into the Future – the reality of life in Wisley New Town

From: Tony Rogers

Mr and Mrs Average are very excited by the prospect of the new Wisley development and put down an early deposit to secure one of the best houses. They are moving to Taylor Wimpey’s new town, and TW’s brochure advertises “excellent schools in the vicinity” (which there are) and local shops in the nearby villages, as well as an on-site convenience store.

A “medical facility” is also advertised, with the promise of a primary school “in due course”, and TW assures them that by the time the development is open, everything will be in place.

Mr Average works in London and commutes four days a week and has to be at work at 8.30am every day, entailing a train journey that starts at 7am. Mrs Average works part-time in a care home. They have two young children, one needing a secondary school, one a primary school, and a pet dog. They cannot afford private education or private health and have to rely on state-funded facilities. They can’t wait to start their new life in the country.

However… when they move into their recently completed house in 2027, as one of the first occupants, the first thing they find out is that the 700 houses built in the area in the interim have taken up all the spare capacity from an already overloaded infrastructure.

The local primary schools have a two-year waiting list (there is in fact only one, the Raleigh School in West Horsley ) and finding a place at a local secondary school is an even bigger problem.

So Mrs Average has to drive to Woking and back – twice a day, a round trip of over an hour until the on-site primary school is up and running. The local medical centres can’t take any more NHS patients, and there is no room at either the local dentists or vets.

The convenience shop in the new town lies empty as the retailers won’t open until it becomes economically viable, ie until about 500 new homes have been sold, and there is still no sign of the ‘medical facility ‘.

Mrs Average can’t find anywhere to park in either East Horsley or Ripley for local shopping so has to go to Guildford or Cobham. TW gives assurance that on-site facilities will be opened ‘in due course’.

However, Taylor Wimpey has a well-documented history of only providing these facilities at the latest possible opportunity, and sometimes not at all. TW like most developers are not philanthropists and are purely motivated by greed and profit, at whatever cost. They will only build the social facilities (that don’t make them money) at the last possible moment in their development programme.

In terms of commuting, there are no extra car parking spaces at either Horsley or Effingham Junction stations. Mr Average is a reluctant average cyclist and doesn’t want to risk his life – 40 per cent of the year he will be cycling in the dark – among fast-moving traffic using Ockham Road or Old Lane which is just too dangerous.

His only realistic option for cycling to get to Horsley station is via the Long Reach route, a circuitous journey with about 30 chicanes, subsidence, and numerous potholes which takes him over 25 minutes each way and involves crossing three major roads, as well as using a narrow footpath by the woods.

His only other option for commuting is to rely on the WACT bus, which is infrequent and unreliable and doesn’t make provision for travel outside peak hours.

So inevitably Mrs Average will have to drive him to one of the stations and pick him up in the evenings, entailing four journeys every day along either Ockham Road or Old Lane before she takes the children to their respective schools.

What will they do when all 2,100 new homes are built and there are likely 4,000 new residents all in the same boat?


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Responses to Letter: Taylor Wimpey Promises the World at Wisley – But Will They Ever Deliver?

  1. Valerie Thompson Reply

    October 28, 2023 at 5:08 pm

    I would be surprised if the late presentation of documents by Taylor Wimpey is legal. It is certainly not moral. TW have abused the system by refusing to send GBC essential documents in good time for them to consider, and to then commence an appeal claiming it is GBC’s fault is shocking.

    The inspector should insist that the appeal is abandoned while all relevant documents that TW wish to be included are delivered to GBC with suitable time for them to look at and discuss the issues.

    Tony Rogers’ comments are probably very true in predicting the future of this development if it gets permission.

  2. Jules Cranwell Reply

    October 29, 2023 at 7:11 am

    Everything Cllr Catherine Young and Tony Green have written should be self-evident to anybody.

    At the last attempt the Wisley Garden City was rejected on 10 strong grounds. Nothing has changed since to mitigate those grounds.

    TW is definitely trying to pull the wool over residents’ and the inspector’s eyes, with promises of infrastructure they have no authority to deliver.

    Let’s hope the inspector sees through their very slick subterfuge.

  3. Peter Bennett-Davies Reply

    October 29, 2023 at 6:07 pm

    “Mr & Mrs Average”, having received, from a friend in Effingham, a link to the many letters and email objections to the Taylor-Wimpey Wisley New Town planning application and subsequent Appeal Inquiry, are seriously considering cancelling their new home reservation, having realised the “dream home at Wisley” was more likely to be a nightmare for the whole family.

    As potential early occupants of the new estate, the thought of being part of a building site for possibly 12 years or more and lack of local school places for their children was of very real concern.

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