Fringe Box



Wisley Planning Appeal Allowed for 1,800 Homes on Former Airfield Site

Published on: 25 May, 2024
Updated on: 26 May, 2024

Wisley Airfield plans. Image: Taylor Wimpey and Vivid

By Martin Giles

The development of the former Wisley Airfield is to proceed.

An appeal by Taylor Wimpey to the Planning Inspectorate has been allowed and was announced yesterday afternoon despite any political implications affecting the general election campaign. The announcement was made just hours before the official pre-election purdah period commenced.

It will be the biggest single development in the Borough of Guildford since the 1960s. The former airfield site at Wisley, which includes arable farmland, was one of the “strategic sites” included in the Guildford Local Plan even though a previous application had been refused on appeal in 2017.

Local campaign groups and neighbouring parish councils have been vociferous in their opposition to the application but the appeal decision will now allow the development of up to 1,730 dwellings, eight gypsy and travellers pitches, up to 100 units of housing for older people, a mixed-use commercial local centre with public square, community hub and an “employment area”.

The planning appeal was controversially lodged before Guildford Borough Council had considered the application, Taylor Wimpey claiming the council had taken too long to do so while the council claimed more information was required to allow their consideration.

Nonetheless, GBC did, later, consider the application and determined that it would have refused planning permission had it been in a position to do so. However by the end of the planning inquiry that considered the appeal GBC indicated that its putative reasons for refusal had been addressed, subject to appropriate planning conditions and planning obligations.

At the time that the appeal was lodged there were also outstanding objections from Natural England, National Highways, Surrey County Council (the County Council) as Local Highway Authority and the Environment Agency.

Campaign group “Villages Against Wisley New Town” in July 2023.

Other organisations that opposed the application were Wisley Action Group (WAG), Ockham Parish Council and RHS Wisley; East Horsley Parish Council and West Horsley Parish Council (The Horsleys); Ripley Parish Council and Send Parish Council; and Villages Against Wisley
New Town (VAWNT).

The main issues considered by the planning inspector Christina Downes were: effect on the local and strategic highway network; effect on air quality: effect on ecology and; sustainable transport choices.

Costs incurred in dealing with the issues of the ecology evidence, transport evidence and planning evidence for the appeal proceeding have been awarded to Taylor Wimpey to be paid by Wisley Action Group, Ockham Parish Council, and RHS Wisley.

Conversely, costs incurred in dealing with the issue of the modelling of the Ockham Interchange   were awarded to the Wisley Action Group, Ockham Parish Council and RHS Wisley, to be paid by Taylor Wimpey

All costs are to be set at amounts that will be assessed in the Senior Courts Costs Office if not agreed between the parties involved.

Angela Richardson

Guildford’s Conservative candidate, Angela Richardson, told The Dragon: “I share the profound disappointment of residents across the eastern villages of Guildford about the decision to approve this application.

“I understand that legal challenge through the High Court remains the final option for VAWNT and other interested parties. Residents can be assured of my full support in any action to unwind this damaging decision.

“In the event any legal action is unsuccessful, my key priority will be to relentlessly pursue the best infrastructure possible to mitigate the impact of this development – such as roads, schools, healthcare and flood prevention. Local people can look at my track record of fighting for residents.

“I have lived near Wisley Airfield. I know the challenges we face and I am best placed to deliver.”

See also: More Reaction to News of Wisley Planning Appeal Decision

What is your view? Please use the “Leave a Comment”.





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Responses to Wisley Planning Appeal Allowed for 1,800 Homes on Former Airfield Site

  1. Valerie Thompson Reply

    May 25, 2024 at 4:24 pm

    Shocked! Horrified! Appalled! What other words can be used? This decision goes against all the objections made over the past few years, including loss of prime farmland, pollution from the M25/A3 junction, shortage of sewage treatment facilities, shortage of school places, objections made by GBC itself, unsuitability of the surrounding roads for cyclists and buses etc. So we can thank Mr Gove for his last effort to destroy Surrey just as he decides to resign from Parliament.

    The local organisations couldn’t have done more to prevent this but in the end we have to believe that money speaks louder than sense and reason.

  2. Simon Peach Reply

    May 25, 2024 at 5:25 pm

    I think Valerie Thompson’s comments are spot on.

  3. Jim Allen Reply

    May 25, 2024 at 7:02 pm

    Not unexpected but 1,800 homes needs a new sewage treatment works.

    Yet no planning application has been submitted, no pipes laid across the A3.

    Like Gosden Hill the off-site infrastructure does not exist. So I guess until Thames Water PLC becomes no longer bankrupt the site can’t be built out. Or will a public works loan be sorted by GBC to solve the problem?

  4. Graham Vickery Reply

    May 25, 2024 at 11:12 pm

    Michael Gove promised residents would have influence in planning matters. No wonder he hasn’t waited for Surrey Heath voters to kick him out. Plus an planning inspector who evidently cast aside every representation from local residents, even recommending more unasked for blight.

    No better than the former council leader Paul Spooner and his colleagues deciding to lift villages out of the green belt and rush the Local Plan through at the last minute.

    The planning inspector issued her decision right after Sunak declared he’s going to the country and just seven hours befor purdah was imposed. They no doubt feared later reasoned political interference preventing her decision from further benefiting developers.

    And they wonder why some of us have lost faith in the integrity of even the highest levels of government.

    • Ben Paton Reply

      May 27, 2024 at 10:37 am

      Graham Vickery says: “… some of us have lost faith in the integrity of even the highest levels of government”.

      Does anyone have much faith left in any level of government?

      The most senior levels of government knew that the NHS had been dishing out contaminated blood for decades. It also knew that the Post Office’s prosecutions of thousands of Post Masters was based on a fraud – the lie that its Horizon system provided reliable evidence of theft.

      But everything in the Civil Service garden is rosy: it must be because the Civil Service Code says that civil servants must be “honest”!

      Mr Gove was supposed to be the “heavy hitter” who would sort out the Grenfell Tower scandal. But nothing much has happened on that. Now he has waived through the scandalous development of Grade II and III farmland and threatened the long-term integrity of the Special Protection Area on Ockham and Wisley Commons. That’s Mr Gove’s legacy.

      Truth, goodness and beauty? Modern Government in England is a monument to the ugly, the profane and the downright evil.

  5. John Perkins Reply

    May 26, 2024 at 6:29 am

    Valerie Thompson is absolutely right.

    It’s impossible not to regard the influence of some Tories as other than malign. Mr Gove’s behaviour has been erratic at best and can be seen as treating local people in the same way he treated some of his colleagues. I cannot imagine any rational Conservative thinking this might improve their chances in the coming election.

    Also, one has to wonder what is the purpose of the planning system. Is there a single case where the Planning Inspectorate has not found against the views of local people and in favour of developers? Nothing has changed since the application was first rejected, except for tinkering with the numbers and types of building. That will not end with the current submission as it’s common for reasons to be found to increase the number of dwellings and reduce the facilities.

    Still, at least the residents of Wisley will be able to enjoy the facilities of the new Ripley Village Hall nearby, which is big enough to accommodate all developments in the surrounding areas.

  6. Peta Malthouse Reply

    May 26, 2024 at 7:47 am

    This was inevitable. Grant Schapps when Transport Secretary granted approval for the M25/A3 Junction 10 improvements but refused the compromise position reached in the consultation.

    Wildlife organisations gave reluctant agreement provided 30 acres were set aside for rare wildlife migration. Schapps approved only 10. Wisley was always in the Local Plan mix. At the time, ownership of the land was believed to be in the hands of Tory politicians or members… but ownership was registered in offshore companies so there was no proof or tax receipt either.

  7. Chris Early Reply

    May 26, 2024 at 9:22 am

    We can’t hide from the massive need for housing. People opposing this have to say what else they would seriously do to address it.
    One alternative would be mid height (5-6 storey) buildings closer to existing town and village centres and rail stations, but my guess is that most of the same people would vociferously oppose this too.

    • John Perkins Reply

      May 26, 2024 at 4:22 pm

      The massive need for housing is almost entirely due to the large number of those brought in as cheap labour and “students”. Both amount to subsidies for businesses that can take advantage of them.

      I’m not convinced it’s the responsibility of anyone else to find ways of accommodating them.

    • Ben Paton Reply

      May 28, 2024 at 5:45 pm

      The answer is very simple: build the sorts of houses that are actually needed, in the places where they are needed.

      The only genuine shortage of housing in England is the shortage of council houses. That’s a Government created shortage. Every year its sells off council houses and fails to build many, or any.

      People want to live near to jobs, mass transport and infrastructure such as schools, hospitals, and shops.

      No council houses also known as social housing is planned for Three Farms Meadows (aka former Wisley Airfield). It will be an isolated, car dependent new town miles from jobs and infrastructure.

      History will record the removal of Three Farms Meadow from the green belt, the arbitrary removal of the Site of Nature Conservation Importance designation and the blatant disregard from the Habitats Regulations as a monument to corruption.

  8. Mike Flarry Reply

    May 26, 2024 at 10:22 am

    I read Valerie Thompson’s comments and thought I was reading about an objection to the shortly to be announced application for an even larger number of houses to be built at Gosden Hill Farm.

    Whatever plans are announced the objections are the same, and are normally classed as “Nimbyism”, and given lip service by planners and government.

    Cries of “people need somewhere to live” will be the alternative view. Eventually at some juncture these vast applications will slide through, affordable home numbers will be reduced, traffic will increase, lives will be made more difficult and unpleasant for many, and the perpetrators and their circus will have moved on to their next project.

  9. David Roberts Reply

    May 26, 2024 at 4:18 pm

    Will Angela Richardson’s “full support” for a legal challenge include paying for one? £50,000 should be enough.

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