Fringe Box



WAG Barrister Says Inclusion of Wisley Site In Local Plan Would Be ‘Unsound’

Published on: 19 Nov, 2017
Updated on: 19 Nov, 2017

Richard Harwood QC

One of Britain’s leading planning law barristers, who represents the Wisley Action Group (WAG), has advised Guildford Borough Council (GBC) that the inclusion of the former Wisley airfield site as a proposed strategic development site in the Local Plan is unsound.

Lawyers at GBC are to consider the implications.

Following the five-week appeal hearing in Guildford, the QC for Wisley Action Group (WAG), Richard Harwood has written to GBC to say that they could not submit a Local Plan which included the Wisley site.

In a Press Release from Wisley Action Group (WAG), Richard Harwood said: “In the light of the evidence and submissions at the five-week enquiry, the inclusion of the scheme in the Local Plan would be unsound. It follows that Guildford could not submit a Local Plan which included the Wisley allocation or, indeed, the Burnt Common slip roads.

Plan for the phased development of the former Wisley Airfield site as shown on the Wisley Property Investment Ltd website (click to enlarge)

“Where the same issues arise on the allocation [in the Local Plan] as [in] the [planning] application – such as strategic and local highways, transport sustainability, air quality, ecology, landscape and visual impact, and heritage impacts – and those are not resolved in the appeal, then they remain unresolved in the Local Plan process.

Mr Harwood advised that other issues addressed at the inquiry raise further questions over the soundness of the inclusion of the scheme in the Local Plan. He said: “The council has underestimated the harm caused by the application and the allocation. If these parts of the plan are found to be unsound by the examination inspector, then it would be very difficult to recover the plan during examination.” He concluded by saying that the likelihood was that the plan would have to be withdrawn.

A Guildford Borough Council spokesperson told the Surrey Advertiser: “The council has received the legal opinion from WAG. Officers are currently considering its content and implications of this with our legal team. The decision to submit the draft Local Plan will be taken by the Executive on Monday, November 20 and subsequently full council on November 21.”

Richard Harwood QC at work at the recent appeal hearing.

Commenting on the new advice, WAG committee member Helen Jefferies said that Guildford would be endangering the entire Local Plan if it included the Wisley site. Mrs Jefferies said: “The Secretary of State will not begin his deliberations on the WPIL planning appeal until March next year, with a decision sometime after that, so that it would be highly illogical to include the scheme in a Local Plan on which councillors will vote next week, November 21 and 22, 2017.

“And, according to GBC’s own published estimates, the Planning Inspectorate’s Pre-Examination of the Local Plan will be in February next year – long before the planning appeal decision.

“In these circumstances, it would seem to be highly negligent to present a Local Plan which, by the inclusion of the Wisley scheme, could be found to be unsound.”

Share This Post

Responses to WAG Barrister Says Inclusion of Wisley Site In Local Plan Would Be ‘Unsound’

  1. Jim Allen Reply

    November 19, 2017 at 5:32 pm

    While the arguments at Wisley are site-specific the very same arguments can be used to demonstrate that the Gosden Hill proposal is also “unsound”.

    The pollution levels within Burpham may well be higher than Ripley. There are a higher number of stationary vehicles, the slip roads onto the Clandon Road, heading west, do nothing to provide northbound access to the A3 the inverse of the southbound problem at Wisley. And there is a failure to provide a second exit to the site.

    So logically the Gosden Hill Site allocation would also, by the same criteria, appear unsound – especially when laid against the GBC objection back in the 1980s.

  2. James White Reply

    November 20, 2017 at 3:54 pm

    Garlick Arch Copse was always sold as an enabling development which I understood to mean that the developers and landowners were agreeing to fund the proposed new A3 slip roads at Burnt Common.

    I have read that Highways England does not support these new slip roads which seems strange because surely Guildford BC would have agreed this with Highways England before getting this far down the line.

    Garlick Arch Copse is not a suitable place to build 400 homes as it sits in a dip right next to the noxious A3 just where all the traffic builds up heading into London. There are no shops nearby or schools within walking distance. The only things this allocation will enable is more cars on the road every morning and more pollution. Not good planning.

Leave a Comment

Please see our comments policy. All comments are moderated and may take time to appear.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *