Fringe Box



Opinion: Our Development Will Provide an Affordable Housing Choice

Published on: 13 Feb, 2023
Updated on: 19 Feb, 2023

Aerial photograph of the former Wisley Airfield site.

By Antonis Pazourou

At Taylor Wimpey we have a long and proud track record of delivering new homes across the UK, including homes the government defines as “Affordable Homes”.

So, it was with some surprise to see the Ockhamite Diary (3rd February) take aim at our proposals to provide 40 per cent affordable homes for local families at the former Wisley Airfield – a location where the average house price is over £1,395,000 (according to Zoopla) and we wished to reply.

Let’s go back a step and put this in context.

Over the last five years, 450 affordable homes of all types and tenures have been delivered across Guildford. However, there is still a waiting list of 1,859 families looking for a secure, permanent home in the borough and there are currently very few new affordable homes in the pipeline, meaning waiting times are incredibly long.

For example, if you are one of the 525 families looking for a two-bed house, you can expect to wait almost seven years according to council figures.

The former Wisley Airfield was allocated to help address this problem and we have been working with Guildford Borough Council during the pre-application process to understand how we can help to address this urgent housing need through our plans.

Wisley Airfield plans. Image: Taylor Wimpey and Vivid (click on image to enlarge)

We have now submitted plans for the majority of the site, some 1,730 homes of which 692 (or 40%) would be Affordable Homes of different tenures. 692 homes represent one and a half times the number delivered across the borough in the last five years and will go a long way in getting more families into homes.

Based on the National Planning Policy Framework definitions (applied across England), Affordable Homes can include social rent, affordable rent, and shared ownership/ shared equity. The well-established purpose is to ensure access to housing to buy, part-buy or rent, below market levels.

While we’re proud that we can deliver this level of Affordable Housing at the former Wisley Airfield we know we can’t just build homes, we need to enhance the existing thriving community, creating a place where people want to live.

Images of Stratford View in the proposed Wisley Airfield development. Image: Taylor Wimpey

That’s why our proposals for the site also include a new public parkland bigger than Stoke Park, with its own visitor centre, a sports pavilion, new schools and nurseries, healthcare facilities, new bus services, shops, office space and much more.

Furthermore, Taylor Wimpey’s proposals will deliver a minimum 20 per cent biodiversity net gain – double the government’s emerging requirement.

This level of affordable homes and infrastructure provision offered by Taylor Wimpey is quite unusual in the borough, with other developments producing significantly less than 40 per cent.

For example, the Debenhams site, approved just before Christmas, will deliver only five affordable homes out of 185, while the plans for the Howard of Effingham School site only include 20 per cent affordable.

We are proud that we have put forward a scheme which can benefit so many families looking to build a future in Guildford. The prices of all the homes at Wisley will be defined at the appropriate time and subject to future detailed planning applications and market conditions, but we are confident that they will provide a real choice for members of the community who at present can’t afford to live in Guildford or Ockham.

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Responses to Opinion: Our Development Will Provide an Affordable Housing Choice

  1. Daniel Hill Reply

    February 13, 2023 at 8:38 pm

    The photo at the top of this letter is a perfect illustration of the issue with this development and the GBC local plan.

    Nobody can dispute the long thin strip of concrete airfield in the middle of the site is brownfield land. This is exactly the type of land we should be developing on. I think most people would agree to a few house on the runway only.

    But unfortunately that’s not what this developer has in mind. They somehow think the thin strip of concrete in the middle magically allows them to build houses on all of the agricultural green field around the airfield.

    We desperately need a brownfield site first policy that clearly lays out what is previously developed land and what is not. And protects our precious greenbelt.

  2. Tony Edwards Reply

    February 14, 2023 at 12:10 pm

    Far from “taking aim” at Mr Pazourou’s stated plans for 40 per cent affordable housing I have, as you will know only too well, been asking for clarification on your “affordable” prices for some considerable time now.

    Since this appears to be a problem right now, perhaps Mr Pazourou could, instead, indicate the price levels of recently completed Taylor Wimpey “affordable” housing in other parts of Surrey as a guide of what might be expected if your “new town” plans were ever approved?

    I’d also be interested to hear your constructive views on my own calculations – as featured in the Ockhamite Diary column to which you have taken exception.

  3. Jules Cranwell Reply

    February 15, 2023 at 5:55 am

    So Taylor Wimpey claims it will deliver much-needed “affordable” homes.

    So that we can judge just how “affordable” they will be, perhaps they would publish what the projected sale prices will be. Looking at a comparable site, the Thakeham site in West Horsley, the lowest price, for a one-bedroom flat is “from £405,000”.

    That is never going to be affordable to a key worker.

    It is not possible that Taylor Wimpey does not know what their projected prices are, so why won’t the tell us? Is it because it would jeopardize their chances of getting planning consent?

  4. Mrs Barker Reply

    February 15, 2023 at 8:30 am

    When will Taylor Wimpey realise, that the majority of people don’t want this housing development to go ahead, on the old Wisley Airfield.

    I believe planning permission has been refused in the past, so why didn’t Taylor Wimpey, leave it there.

    It’s no good spending millions of pounds on widening the Wisley A3/M25 junction, when, if you think, after the houses have been built, we could be in the same situation, as we are in now. There could be in excess of 3,500 cars, based on a 2 cars per family, double that, if you have 2 children that drive, that could potentially mean over 7,000 extra vehicles, on the roads in the local areas.

    I am definitely not looking forward to this development going ahead. Getting about locally, and travelling on the A3/M25, will be a nightmare.

  5. Guy Murray Reply

    February 17, 2023 at 10:03 am

    It is truly great that Mr Pazourou is concerned about affordable housing. He says that he is proud to have put forward a scheme which can benefit so many families looking to build a future in Guildford.

    I would like to remind you that the former Wisley Airfield site is located 10 miles away from Guildford town centre. If a child that could live on the airfield site has to go to a school in Guildford and is driven by their parents for both drop off and pick up that would require 20 miles of driving every weekday at a minimum.

    Why are you not looking at additional sites in Guildford where there are schools, shops, job opportunities and transport links. As Mr Pazourou says: “families are looking to build a future in Guildford”.

    This site is not Guildford and I would have thought that forcing families to drive potentially many miles is not particularly climate-friendly or even budget-friendly for those on low incomes.

    The destruction and development of our rural villages and the affect this will have on our climate doesn’t appear to have been considered by GBC and their Climate Emergency Declaration from 2019. This declaration would appear to be a mere formality with little action.

    If GBC needs more affordable housing surely it is questionable as to why the Debenhams site is only providing five affordable homes out of 185.

  6. Jules Cranwell Reply

    February 24, 2023 at 9:52 am

    I have challenged Taylor Wimpey to publish the proposed prices of their so-called “affordable” homes.

    I’ll make it easy for them. They will find it in their business plan to justify the development of the [former Wisley Airfield] site.

    Or are they afraid that their pledge of “affordable” homes will be revealed to be the twaddle that we know it is?

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