Fringe Box



Opinion: GBC Is Being Two Faced Over Wisley Planning

Published on: 8 Apr, 2016
Updated on: 11 Apr, 2016

By Colin Cross

Colin Cross is the Lib Dem borough councillor for Lovelace

Aerial photograph of the site marked in red of the proposed development. From Guildford Borough Council's planning officers' report.

Aerial photograph of the site marked in red of the proposed development. From Guildford Borough Council’s planning officers’ report.

At last, after a fifteen month delay, the controversial former Wisley Airfield or Three Farm Meadow planning application for over 2,000 new homes has finally had its day of reckoning and been kicked out by Guildford Borough Council’s Planning Committee.

The proposal from the Cayman Islands-based developers, Wisley Property Investments Ltd, was recommended for refusal by planning officers on 14 strong planning grounds.

Opinion Logo 2Local residents and representatives of Wisley Action Group spoke to the committee to explain the overwhelming local objection to the scheme and I outlined some of the many reasons why the application failed to meet the National Planning Policy Framework and GBC’s own planning policies.

After I moved the refusal, councillor after councillor spoke explaining why they agreed the application was unacceptable, and the decision to refuse the application was, I am glad to say, unanimous.

Apart from improving the housing numbers in our borough there was little to commend the application. There were manifold concerns covering sustainability, transport/highways, environment, ecology, unsuitability in terms of design and conservation aspects, air quality, overcrowding, inadequate sewage measures, schooling, health services and so on.

The total incongruity of every aspect of the proposal was laid bare to almost total condemnation by the public speakers.

As for the continued inclusion of a proposed new town of over 2,000 new homes on the Wisley Airfield in GBC’s revised Local Plan, I think it is ironic that this comes hard on the heels of yesterday’s decision to refuse planning permission for a housing development on this totally unsuited site.

GBC are facing two ways at once on the same issue.

Surely the open and honest approach should be for the council to immediately recognise the clear decision made by its own planners and Planning Committee and stop this ridiculous urban ghetto concept threatening our green belt.

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Responses to Opinion: GBC Is Being Two Faced Over Wisley Planning

  1. Neville Bryan Reply

    April 8, 2016 at 7:48 am

    I rather think it’s a severe case of Greed and Ambition rather than Schizophrenia.

    Planners appear this time to have followed the real guidelines rather than the leadership. This is good but might also suggest it is a short term decision as perhaps WPI the developers have not come up with enough Section 106 money. It is clear the policy team still want the site for the Local Plan and it’s not going away.

    Somebody still needs to lift the lid on the ambition and motivation behind the local plan, which is driving this. Why so many houses? Why so much unexplained growth? Why have so many brownfield sites which could be much better utilised for urban living and improve Guildford quality of life are in fact showing low density housing or just reserved for businesses like retail against national trends?

    The growth increase to 693 houses per year puts Wisley, Hogs Back, Gosden Hill, and now Normandy at risk. 7,000+ houses on the green belt does not meet my definition of protecting it.

  2. John Perkins Reply

    April 8, 2016 at 11:02 am

    Well done Colin Cross. And all those other councillors too, who opposed this thing. I doubt we have heard the end of the matter, but at least the council is of one voice with local people.

  3. Harry Eve Reply

    April 8, 2016 at 11:55 am

    It is possible that there is another explanation? Perhaps the latest version of the Draft Local Plan posted on the [GBC] website was not scrutinised. It appears to be a version prepared before the elections, less than a year ago, when we were promised that the green belt would be protected from building.

    Surely no councillor, elected on that promise, would vote for this version to go forwards as they would be branding themselves as breakers of promises.

    I note that the GBC Executive are putting a spin on the numbers by, once again, quoting a percentage rather than stating the vast acreage of green space in the green belt that they want to hand over to developers.

  4. Antonia Borneo Reply

    April 8, 2016 at 2:10 pm

    I struggled to engage with the content of this article because I was too busy being surprised by the massively in appropriate and stigmatising reference to schizophrenia in the headline.

    People living with the potentially very serious mental health problem called schizophrenia are not – as everyone should know in 2016 – two people in one, or Jekyll and Hyde, or any of that other stereotypical nonsense. Having the diagnosis can knock a person’s identity, that’s for sure, but that’s largely because ignorance perpetuates hugely unhelpful myths about this complex diagnosis, and due to thoughtless, flippant, uninformed remarks like these.

    If you mean indecisive, or two faced, or ‘flip flop’, or uncertain, or disingenuous, or anything else like that, just say so. Leave people with serious health issues out of it.

    The article was origally headlined “GBC Suffering from Scizophrenia Over Wisley Planning”. Neither the author or publisher intended any offence to anyone but have agreed to change the wording. Ed

  5. Tony Edwards Reply

    April 8, 2016 at 2:33 pm

    There were more 14 sound planning reasons why the ‘new town’ proposal was rejected by the Planning Committee on Wednesday evening. Those reasons remain constant so that the inclusion of the area in the [revised] Local Plan as a suitable location for a ‘new town’ is, at best, highly illogical but will be viewed by most of us as plain madness and a further waste of everyone’s time.

    Perhaps the strategic planner(s) who believe the inclusion of ‘Three Farms Meadows’, the former Wisley airfield, in the Local Plan makes sense would care to explain their logic? Or will they waste still more of our time and money before they finally concede that the proposal is unsustainable?

  6. John Perkins Reply

    April 9, 2016 at 11:59 am

    One significant difference between the old Draft Local Plan and the latest revised version is that many places previously designated as “inset into” the green belt are now simply shown as not part of it.

    The weasel words “inset into” meant “taken out of” and that now seems to have been accomplished in the new version. The borders of those places, themselves disputed by residents at the time, are now shown as boundaries of the green belt.

  7. Valerie Thompson Reply

    April 11, 2016 at 4:04 pm

    Not only are GBC planning to remove Greenbelt status from 14 villages around the Borough, but have also suggested very dense developments in Conservation areas. Nowhere is safe from GBC’s “Grand Designs”.

  8. Terry Stevenson Reply

    April 11, 2016 at 11:03 pm

    ‘…stop this ridiculous urban ghetto concept threatening our green belt’.

    Really? While the application may have been deficient in many aspects, I would suggest the use of such terminology is somewhat wide of the mark.

    Furthermore, I would not call places such as Elvetham Heath an ‘urban ghetto’.

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