Fringe Box



Letter: ‘Wisley Airfield’ Should Be Restored to Agricultural Use

Published on: 27 Jul, 2016
Updated on: 27 Jul, 2016

Aerial photograph of the site marked in red of the proposed development. From Guildford Borough Council's planning officers' report.From Garry Walton (With grateful acknowledgment to Wendy Lloyd)

The people of Ockham helped to win the war. Will they be allowed to live in peace?

When captain ‘Mutt’ Summers, chief test pilot for Vickers Armstrong made his emergency landing on a grassy stretch of Ockham farmland during the early stages of World War 2 he could not have guessed at the far reaching changes his discovery would bring to the local residents.

They were accustomed to walking across the green fields from Elm Corner to Ockham Church on a Sunday morning and enjoying lunch with vegetables grown in the the big field at Elm Corner.

However, the land was requisitioned in 1943 by the Ministry of Defence to make way for an airfield.

Access to the public was denied, rights of way closed and four farms Stratford, Hyde, Corsair and Cuckoo together with buildings were demolished.

“Wisley Airfield” is so called because most of the land used to be in the parish of Wisley, until the reorganisation of parish boundaries in 1938. Now the airfield is totally within the civil parish of Ockham.

Following requisition in 1943 the Ministry of Defence promised and gave assurances that the after the cessation of hostilities it would be returned and restored to agricultural use.

The government never delivered its promise to the people of Ockham who surrendered land so that our country did not surrender to Hitler.

The ‘Crichel Down Code’ decrees that land commissioned in an emergency must be offered back to the existing owners in the same condition as before. It never was.

The people of Ockham who helped to fight off foreign invaders now are having to fight off foreign Cayman Island investors who seek to concrete over their historic green belt hamlet.

Isn’t it high time, after 75 years, that the good people of Ockham, for their war time sacrifice, were given their just reward – peace.


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Responses to Letter: ‘Wisley Airfield’ Should Be Restored to Agricultural Use

  1. Ben Paton Reply

    July 27, 2016 at 8:27 pm

    ‘Airfield’ is as much a misnomer as ‘Wisley’. It has not been an airfield since 1972. It has not been in Wisley since before WW2.

    The land acquired in 2007 by Wharf Land (incorporated in Jersey) and then passed down to Wisley Property Investments (incorporated in the Caymans) comprises 114.7ha. Of that 70ha is agricultural land. Most of that, i.e. at least 45ha, is “Best and Most Versatile” agricultural land. It has been in continuous cultivation for centuries. The site has always been mostly agricultural land and it still is.

    Of the balance of c.44ha, 17.5ha is ‘countryside’ i.e. grassland, scrub and woodland, and 27ha is ‘concrete’. However, of the concrete, 17 ha comprising most of what was formerly developed, i.e. the hangar area, has been set aside for the Surrey Waste Plan. So only 10ha out of 117ha is ‘concrete’ which does not already have planning permission, about 8% of the total.

    Some of that concrete also lies within 400m of a Special Protection Area and cannot be used for housing in any case.

    To describe the site as other than agricultural land is misleading. It is little different from any of the agricultural land along the A3 between Surbiton and Guildford.

  2. Valerie Thompson Reply

    July 27, 2016 at 9:34 pm

    I have been making the same comments for years and resent the way that this farmland has been renamed Wisley Airfield.

    I have never heard of the “Crichel Down Code”, but I think that Mr. Walton should research it further and try to get it applied to Three Farms Meadows.

    It is not too late; the land may have been included in the draft Local Plan, even after all the councillors rejected the latest planning application, but no permission for building has yet gone through, and there are a huge number of people who would support him.

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