120,000 sign petition against Wisley Airfield development

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Protesters said building on the green belt site would have ‘catastrophic’ effects on fauna and flora

Artist impression of plans which have been formally submitted for 2,100 homes at Wisley Airfield

 

More than 120,000 people have signed an electronic petition against a proposed 2,100 home development in Wisley.

The signatures, some from people living as far away as Brazil, Venezuela, and Texas, states it is against developers ‘destroying the UK’s beautiful green belt’.

The petition comes as Wisley Property Investments, the group behind the plans to redevelop the former Wisley Airfield, claims that 46% of 1,002 respondents of a recent telephone survey support a new development in the area, with 30% against.

“If this plan goes ahead detrimental harm will be done to the rural landscape character of the area and the openness of this precious greenbelt,” the Care 2 petition claims.

“Damage will occur to the habitats of the protected and endangered rare species in contravention of the EU Birds Directives and Habitats Regulation. Aside from the catastrophic effect this will have on our fauna and flora, these developers are ignoring the impact this new town will have on local residents. Major traffic issues will clog small village roads, which are at capacity already.”

Comments attached to some of the signatures include suggestions that brownfield land should be used for developments instead, and that the green belt is what makes the area beautiful.

This week, 123,083 people had signed the petition, with a target set for 124,000.

The project, described by the applicant as a ‘sustainable new community’, features a range of one-bedroom apartments to five-bedroom family houses, and affordable homes.

As well as more than 2,000 homes, the application includes plans for a school, a care home and shops, and is now with the borough council’s planning officers for consideration.

Initial designs for a town of more than 2,000 homes which could be built on the site of Wisley Airfield

 

The proposals have so far attracted more than 1,500 objections through the borough council’s public consultation.

In Wisley Property Investment’s survey, it asked: “How would you describe your views on the proposals for a community of 2,100 homes, of which up to 800 will be affordable, to be built at Wisley Airfield?”

A total of 461 said they were either strong or slightly in favour, with 309 people saying they were slightly or strongly against. The highest support was from the 18 to 34 year-old respondents.

Mike Murray, from Wisley Property Investments, said it was disappointed the petition has come forward.

“Guildford is in a housing crisis,” he said. “With house prices 11 times above average earnings, and only 781 affordable homes built in the last 10 years, more housing is desperately needed.

“With more than 70 acres of concrete and hardstanding, a railway station within a six-minute cycle ride, and a consented direct access to the A3, Wisley Airfield is an obvious site for development.

“A telephone survey undertaken to strict Market Research Society rules of more than 1,000 residents across Guildford Borough in March 2015 found that 46% supported a sustainable new community at Wisley Airfield, with only 30% against.

“By contrast, this petition objecting to the building of up to 2,100 much needed new homes, together with a haven for people and wildlife, that doubles the valuable habitat on site, has been signed by many people who are not residents of the UK, never mind Guildford borough.

“This would indicate that many of the signatories have not been provided with the full facts and are not fully invested in the Guildford community.”