The Wisley Action Group (WAG) is angry in that its calls for details of the company behind plans to build on the former Wisley airfield site have be rebuffed
WAG has written to the project’s co-ordinators Causeway Land, and says its request has been refused “on grounds that the information isn’t relevant to the planning application 15/P/00012 for a new town at Wisley”.
The area at Wisley earmarked for development. Picture from the Wisley Action Group’s website.
The action group is concerned at what it sees as plans “to build a ‘new town’ embracing 2,100 houses” at Three Farms Meadows, the former airfield site.
WAG’s letter asked for disclosure of the corporate details of the land owners and would-be developers Wisley Property Investments Ltd (WPI) “in the interests of clarity and transparency for Guildford residents”.
WAG Committee member Helen Jefferies said: “We believe the people of Guildford have a right to know more about the company and the people behind any organisation with plans to totally transform the borough by parachuting-in a ‘new town’ in the green belt. Their reluctance to step forward must surely be a matter for concern to us all.”
In his response to WAG’s requests, the spokesman for Causeway Land, Michael Murray replied, writing: “The site is owned by Wisley Property Investments Ltd. WPIL complies with all UK laws and regulations.”
WAG reports that the company is thought to be based in the Cayman Islands, “so that profits need not be subject to tax in the UK and could remain off-shore”.
Mrs Jefferies added: “It seems clear that the owners of the land hope to remain anonymous while, at the same time, trying to convince Guildford residents in their literature that proposals for a new town on our precious green belt should be welcomed.
“We realise there is no legal requirement for them to step out from behind a shield of anonymity but we believe it would be in the best interests of clarity and transparency.”
WAG has also queried a claim by Michael Murray that more than 60% of feedback from his public consultation events in the area was either ‘positive’ or ‘neutral’.
Mrs Jefferies said: “It is perhaps significant that Mr Murray has produced no statistical evidence to support his sweeping claims but those of us who attended the ‘events’ in East Horsley, Ripley and Guildford left with a very different impression about public reaction. Most people seemed rather less than positive about the plans – many downright disgruntled.”
WAG also disputes other claims by Wisley Property Investments, including the status and availability of the land.
It adds that writing to WAG, Peter Village QC, “has described draft Local Plan proposals for a ‘new town’ at Wisley as ‘irrational’ and concluded that ‘there is demonstrably insufficient land to accommodate a sustainable new settlement on this site’.”
WAG is also saying that many Ockham residents and some neighbouring parish councils have yet to receive formal notification of the planning application for the former Wisley airfield.
Helen Jefferies again: “Yet responses and objections to plan 15/P/00012 are officially required within 35 days of Guildford Borough Council’s official letter of January 13, 2015 – by February 18.
“Guildford Borough Council appears to have been somewhat selective in their circulation of the planning application details. Neither I nor anyone else in my family has received a planning letter from Guildford, and we are informed that some parish councils in the vicinity have also been ignored – namely Ripley, Effingham, West and East Horsley.”
WAG states that that “while Ockham Parish Council has been granted an extension until March 31, others are still required to make their comments in less than three weeks”.
However, it is now understood that Guildford Borough Council has extended the consultation period to March 31 for all parties, and will be writing to residents, consultees and parish councils to confirm.
“I’ve written to Chris Mansfield [GBC] asking for an explanation,” said Mrs Jefferies. “Plans for a massive assault on Guildford’s green belt is of concern to everyone in the borough.”