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Wisley Airfield Protester Storms Tory Drinks Reception Hosted by Developer’s PR Firm

Published on: 4 Oct, 2022
Updated on: 4 Oct, 2022

The WAG protestor at the Cratus reception being escorted out.

By Emily Coady-Stemp

local democracy reporter

A Wisley Airfield protester stormed a drinks reception at the Conservative Party conference to call on attendees to “save the badgers” in plans for a new town at the site.

The event was hosted by the public relations firm representing Taylor Wimpey, the developer which submitted plans for 1,700 homes on the site in the summer.

The protester entered the Cratus Communications drinks reception on Monday (October 3) with a loud hailer and called the proposed development an ecological and traffic “nightmare”.

He said: “Save the badgers, save the wildlife. End the development in Wisley now.”

The Wisley Action Group (WAG) protester is seen being escorted out of the event at the Birmingham conference, which is taking place this week, as he continued to shout at the attendees.

Protesters have spoken out about various issues of the development including the impact on wildlife, the future residents’ possible reliance on cars and the impact on the surrounding rural residents.

Tony Edwards

WAG spokesperson Tony Edwards said: “Taylor Wimpey’s development will see green fields concreted over, up to 5,000 more cars on already gridlock roads and a new town in the middle of nowhere with no proper facilities.

“They have ignored residents’ views, so we have taken this action, which is why we have decided to disrupt their drinks reception, bringing light to this issue.”

Taylor Wimpey has run consultations on the plans for the development, which will sit alongside the A3 on what is currently a mix of the old airfield landing strip and farmland.

It is less than a mile from junction 10 with the M25, where upgrade work is commencing.

See: Public Information Events for Start of M25 Junction 10 Construction Work

The Talor Wimpey plans, which include homes across three neighbourhoods of which 40 per cent would be affordable, also include green spaces, a country park and space for a new medical facility, a primary school and provision for a secondary school.

As an allocated site for 2,000 homes in Guildford Borough Council’s Local Plan, upgrades to infrastructure in the area are also included.

Campaigners claimed that guests at the event included former Housing Minster, Marcus Jones MP, senior politicians from across the country, and Cratus staff.

A Cratus spokesperson said: “We are aware of a protester interrupting a drinks reception which took place on Monday evening at the Conservative Party Conference, organised by Cratus.

“Since completing the purchase of the former Wisley Airfield, Taylor Wimpey has engaged with the local community to develop proposals for the site through a wide-reaching community consultation and engagement programme, which has taken place over four chapters.

“We are providing several avenues for people to raise issues of concern and we encourage people to get in touch with us directly if they wish to speak about the proposals.”

The Conservative Party has been contacted for comment.

See: Delay to Consultation on Planning Application for Wisley Airfield

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Responses to Wisley Airfield Protester Storms Tory Drinks Reception Hosted by Developer’s PR Firm

  1. RWL Davies Reply

    October 4, 2022 at 4:58 pm

    Wisley airfield is one of the most obvious brownfield sites for development in the South East, badgers, other “wildlife” and Nimbys notwithstanding. It’s bound to happen sooner or later.

    • C J Campbell Reply

      October 4, 2022 at 9:56 pm

      Mr Davies’ comment is not helpful, it is erroneous, and here’s why…

      To set the record straight: the site known as Three Farm Meadows is, as the name suggests, primarily farmland and very good farmland at that, comprising grade 2 and 3 what is known as “Best and Most Versatile ” (BMV) agricultural land.

      It happens to have a strip of tarmac left over from World War 2 running through the fields covering just 10 per cent of the 170 hectares.

      No one could accurately describe the 153 hectares as a brownfield site.

      And by the way, I say this not from any “backyard” to the area, if that derogatory and divisive term must be used as a rather lazy “them and us” tactic, rather than looking at the whole context.

      I should also point out that it’s not just badgers; the site is adjacent to the nature reserves of Ockham and Wisley Commons which are not just SSSIs but are also designated as a Special Protection Area (SPA) with rare and protected species of red list birds plus protected species of amphibian and reptiles on heathland which is now as rare as rain forest.

      2,100 houses (including the two other adjacent schemes yet to be added by other developers), the roads, the 3-4,000 cars and the 1,000 dogs and 800 cats (consultant’s figures not mine) will not leave much nature on the nature reserve.

      It’s simply the wrong location to build a new town of these proportions and that is why it has been refused several times, the most recent only four years ago in Spring 2018 as recommended by the Planning Inspectorate and confirmed by the Secretary of State for Housing.

      I hope that gives a slightly more objective view and some useful facts.

      C J Campbell is a campaigner for Villages Againsit Wisley New Town

  2. David Roberts Reply

    October 4, 2022 at 6:09 pm

    The strange term used to describe community consultation (“taking place over four chapters”) reveals this process to be what it is: a work of fiction composed by the London PR firm Cratus, whose job is to insulate Taylor Wimpey from all contact with inconvenient public opinions.

  3. Valerie Thompson Reply

    October 4, 2022 at 10:55 pm

    Rubbish! An old wartime airstrip is the only brownfield bit of Three Farms Meadows, which produces enough grain for 1,000,000 loaves. Do we want to eat? If so, we should leave good farmland undeveloped.

  4. Jules Cranwell Reply

    October 5, 2022 at 6:01 am

    Was Cllr Spooner present? He has received hospitality from Cratus before, during the development of his despised Local Plan.

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