Fringe Box



Letter: Veil Of Anonymity Over Wisley Site Could Be Lifted, But Council Refuses

Published on: 9 Apr, 2015
Updated on: 11 Apr, 2015

From Tony Edwards of Ockham

The veil of anonymity covering the people behind the proposal for a ‘new town’ at Three Farms Meadows, the former Wisley airfield site, could be lifted by Guildford Borough Council – but they refuse to do so.

emails letterThe Wisley Action Group (WAG) advised Guildford planners last month that it had the legal right to request further details of the applicant under Section 62 of the 1990 Town & Country Planning Act. And Barry Fagg, interim head of planning, was asked if the council had:

A) Confirmed that the applicant has sufficient funds to meet all the obligations in the planning application?

B) Confirmed the source of the funds?

C) Established the identities of the directors and shareholders of the applicant company?

But while it was accepted that the council had the right, under the 1990 Act, to ask these questions in dealing with the planning application, Mr Fagg said that he wasn’t obliged to and was “not prepared to do further due diligence of the application”.

Guildford planners, therefore, have no legal obligation to scrutinise the applicant company, but they clearly have the legal right to do so. And bearing in mind the enormity of the proposal for 2,100 homes as part of the ‘new town’, and the implications for local infrastructure in towns and villages throughout the borough – and neighbouring boroughs – it seems highly dilatory of Mr Fagg and his team not to carry out some basic checks on this off-shore, tax haven company.

The potential for “affordable housing” in this proposal is also in considerable doubt. Mr Fagg admits that the applicant would be entitled to sell all or part of the site after receiving planning consent and that “there is no guarantee that this company will actually undertake the proposed development”.

So the applicant could (and probably would) simply sell the land with the benefit of the new permissions, creaming-off a massive profit without laying a brick, and leaving future house builders with substantially tighter margins and little scope to build low-cost housing. Budget restraints would mean that affordable housing would be highly unlikely to be on the agenda.

It’s becoming increasingly clear that this application is about turning a quick profit and nothing to do with housing need in general and affordable housing in particular. In the circumstances, I believe Guildford Borough Council has a duty under the 1990 Act to at least find out to whom they are entrusting the future of a massive slice of Guildford’s green belt.

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Responses to Letter: Veil Of Anonymity Over Wisley Site Could Be Lifted, But Council Refuses

  1. Mary Bedforth Reply

    April 10, 2015 at 10:05 am

    Could we be told if GBC employ Mr Fagg directly or use the services of his company? If the latter, how much in fees has been paid to date?

  2. Jules Cranwell Reply

    April 10, 2015 at 9:44 pm

    Just what is GBC hiding from us and why?

  3. James Cook Reply

    April 10, 2015 at 10:10 pm

    If the Wisley Action Group are to have any impact on fighting the Wisley application they need to start concentrating on the planning arguments and stop chasing the red herring of ownership.

    Tony Edwards is naive when he expresses surprise that the applicants could cream off, “Massive profits without laying a brick”. It only emphasises my point that WAG need professional help.

  4. Tony Edwards Reply

    April 11, 2015 at 2:43 pm

    James Cook demonstrates a feeble grasp of the issues surrounding the planning proposals for ‘Three Farms Meadows’, the former Wisley airfield, if he imagines anyone would be surprised by the level of profits generated by a change of status from green belt to development land.

    If he’d been paying attention to the much publicised arguments presented by the Wisley Action Group (WAG) in recent months, he’d be aware that the case against a proposal for a ‘new town’ of 2,100 houses is very clear and concise and supported by opinion from leading counsel. Well over 1,000 objections have been received, confirming the resolve of Guildford residents to prevent this act of vandalism from ever taking place.

    Mr Cook has obviously fallen for the questionable propaganda flowing from agencies representing the anonymous Cayman Island developer. And he clearly believes it’s OK for an unidentified group of individuals to change the face of the borough without reasonable scrutiny.

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