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Planning Officers Recommend Refusal of Former Wisley Airfield Site Housing Scheme

Published on: 24 Mar, 2016
Updated on: 24 Mar, 2016

Planning officers at Guildford Borough Council have recommended that a scheme to develop the former Wisley airfield site with more than 2,000 homes be turned down.

Councillors will debate the application by developer Wisley Property Investments (WPI) a special meeting of the council’s planning committee on Wednesday, April 6.

An artist's impression on how the development may look from above.

An artist’s impression on how the development may look from above.

The outline application, submitted in January, is for up to 2,068 homes on the site, known as Three Farms Meadows.

The scheme also includes accommodation for the elderly, Gypsy and Traveller pitches, plus a combined primary and secondary school, health centre, retail units, employment land and public open space, including approximately 50ha of a site of alternative green space (SANG).

In a report published on March 23, included among the points planning officers recommend for refusal of the plan are that the proposed development “represents inappropriate development within the green belt”.

They add: “It has not been demonstrated that the development proposed would not give rise to a severe adverse impact on the safe and efficient operation of the strategic road network (A3/M25), nor that it would not give rise to a severe impact to the efficient operation of the local road network, in particular in Ripley and the junction of Newark Lane / Rose Lane.

“The application fails to deliver the transport sustainability measures required to enable sustainable travel choices such as walking, cycling and public transport.

“The development fails to secure an appropriate provision of affordable housing and therefore fails to deliver a mixed community or the affordable housing needed in the borough.

“It has not been demonstrated that the development proposed would not give rise to an unacceptable air quality impact to local receptors including future residents and protected ecological sites.”

The application was first submitted to Guildford Borough Council in January 2015 and was subject to extensive consultation with the public and local stakeholders.

Following a request for additional information and clarifications, the applicant submitted additional information and amended proposals in December 2015 which was subject to further consultation in January and February this year.

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.

The Wisley Action Group (WAG), that has been campaigning against the developer’s plans, has today (March 24) applauded Guildford Borough Council officers’ recommended refusal of the planning application to build what has been described as a ‘new town’ on the site of the former Wisley airfield.

Helen Jefferies from WAG said: “The avalanche of evidence against and ever-growing list of objections to plans by Cayman Island developers to build over 2,000 houses on green belt land, agricultural land, in the rural hamlet of Ockham continues to gain momentum.

“We are delighted, therefore, to learn that Guildford’s officers are to recommend refusal of proposals which would result in an additional 5,000 residents and over 4,000 additional cars.

“As we have been advised by leading counsel, this is the wrong project in the wrong place.”

Mike Murray, representing Wisley Property Investments, said: “Wisley airfield is the obvious location for a new settlement in Guildford. Amid rapidly increasing house prices, currently running at 14 times average national incomes, Wisley airfield can deliver up to 2,060 new homes, community facilities, sports areas, a cafe, shop, medical facility and a parkland bigger than Stoke Park.

“The plans and content of the scheme have been developed as a result of more than two years of extensive consultation with local people and stakeholders, with a number of significant changes being made as a direct result. Most notably, the proposals now include a through school for children aged five to 15.

“A new community at Wisley airfield was identified in the emerging Local Plan as a location for future growth and has public support, particularly among younger people keen to get onto the housing ladder for the first time. For example, our on street surveys found that 65% of under-35s surveyed are in favour of a new community at Wisley airfield.

“However, in common with other strategic developments planning takes time to get right, as it should. We have been working towards a resolution on the remaining issues and expect to have them resolved later this summer. For this reason, we will be asking the committee to defer the application to allow for continued discussion on these matters.”

Ahead of the meeting on April 6, the council has issued a statement that notes if people have made a representation in relation to this application, they will received a letter/email inviting them to register to speak at the meeting.

The council points out that there will be a maximum of four public speakers permitted to speak in favour of the application and four against at the meeting.

The public is now asked register to speak, with applications taken on a strictly ‘first come first served’ basis. The deadline for registration is noon on Tuesday April 5.

Seating capacity for members of the public in the council chamber is limited.

The meeting will be webcast live and can be viewed on the council’s website via its website at:

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Responses to Planning Officers Recommend Refusal of Former Wisley Airfield Site Housing Scheme

  1. Jules Cranwell Reply

    March 24, 2016 at 2:18 am

    This may be the beginning to restore my trust in the wisdom of GBC planners.

    This is a most correct and just decision.

    Well done WAG.

  2. Tony Edwards Reply

    March 24, 2016 at 1:21 pm

    Good news that GBC officers see fit to recommend a refusal of this application for a ‘new town’ in the rural hamlet of Ockham, but it raises the question of why the ‘new town’ proposal remains, we are told, in the “emerging” Local Plan. A curious contradiction of logic which seems to demand an early explanation.

  3. David Watson Reply

    March 24, 2016 at 10:07 pm

    I don’t believe Jules Cranwell should get too excited.

    Guildford Borough Council is still likely to include Wisley Airfield as an allocated strategic site in its imminent draft Local Plan, but in the 10 to 15 year hence bracket.

    My predictions for the new Local Plan are that it will contain a new strategic site next to the Park and Ride in Merrow with sites allocated in Silkmore Lane, Effingham and Tannery Lane, Send, being dropped.

  4. Susan Woolley Reply

    March 26, 2016 at 4:29 pm

    Good, totally incomprehensible why they would even think to use this plot for building on, as it will eventually swallow up the surrounding area.

  5. Alan Robertson Reply

    March 28, 2016 at 6:49 pm

    The Cayman Island speculators have lots of money and powerful friends, so common sense may not prevail.

    This development should not go ahead as there are plenty of alternative, suitable sites in the borough for small scale developments which will fulfill housing needs.

  6. Ben Paton Reply

    March 30, 2016 at 11:59 pm

    Mr Murray states that the development has public support. The officer’s report reveals that only seven letters in support were received by GBC. All the neighbouring parish councils and Elmbridge Borough Council have objected.

    Mr Murray states that WPI consulted widely. It did not consult Ockham Parish Council or residents directly affected.

    Mr Murray states that this is ‘an obvious location for a new settlement’. The Settlement Hierarchy published with the draft Local Plan ranked Ockham as the second least sustainable location for development in the entire borough.

    Putting the proposed new settlement and Site of Alternative Natural Green Space (SANG) immediately adjacent to the Special Protection Area is plainly irrational and puts the SPA at material risk.

    Mr Murray wants yet another extension of time. The application was submitted in December 2014. That was after at least a year of pre-application consultation with GBC. The time for considering the application has already been extended by GBC twice. It has now been before the council for 15 months.

    Residents of Ockham have been subjected to propaganda for three years which repeats that the site is Grade 4 agricultural land, has access permission to the A3 for housing, and is less than ten minutes from Effingham Junction by bicycle. Each of those claims is incorrect.

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