Proposed Wisley project to build more than 2,000 homes ‘could be life-threatening’

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Wisley Property Investments Ltd has submitted an application to construct up to 2,100 dwellings on the land in Hatch Lane, Ockham, along with a primary school, nursery, health facility and retail units

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

The plan to build more than 2,000 homes on green belt land at Wisley Airfield are “absolutely horrendous”, according to an objector concerned about the effect on Cobham and its surrounding villages.

Wisley Property Investments Ltd has submitted an application to construct up to 2,100 dwellings on the land in Hatch Lane, Ockham, along with a primary school, nursery, health facility and retail units.

Susan Kilpatrick, chairman of the Cobham and Downside Residents’ Association, believes the proposal is “totally out of character” with the area. She said: “It’s absolutely horrendous, and no special circumstances have been demonstrated for building on green belt land.

“The increase in traffic will result in Cobham being gridlocked and it will add to the pollution problem.”

A development of this scale, “about half the size of Cobham”, will increase the strain on an already fragile infrastructure network, according to Mrs Kilpatrick.

“The envisaged closing and restructuring of routes around the site and additional traffic movements will only add pressure on the roads in the community,” she said.

“As well as putting pressure on the GPs and health facilities – this could be life threatening to those who rely on those services, not to mention the people moving into the area.”

The Cobham Green Belt group has highlighted the ‘adverse effect on all of the nearby areas, including Cobham, Downside, Stoke d’Abernon and Oxshott’.

The group points to a number of areas of concern, including the ‘urbanisation of a rural area with a negative impact on roads and lanes, light pollution, air pollution, traffic, infrastructure’.

It adds: “The unacceptable reliance on motor vehicles in the absence of sufficient public transport, and that the development density is far in excess of surrounding neighbourhoods.”

Wisley Property Investments Ltd state in a planning document: “The site has been identified as a new settlement and hence removed from the green belt within the emerging Guild-ford Borough Local Plan, as justified by the borough council’s evidence base.”

The site was proposed for removal from the green belt in the council’s draft local plan, but crucially the plan has not been adopted.

Following vocal opposition from residents adoption of the draft plan has been postponed so another consultation can be carried out following the election in May.

Malcolm Aish, from the Wisley Action Group, was amazed at this announcement by the developers.

He said: “To quote a draft local plan, which is in the process of reassessment by the council, following massive opposition from residents, is both irrational and misleading.”

Yet Mike Murray, project manager for the Wisley development, pointed out that a Guildford Borough Council green belt review marked the airfield is an appropriate site for development.

He said: “Our proposals for a sustainable new community at Wisley Airfield make the best possible use of the site, which includes 70 acres of runways and hardstanding – about the same size as 70 football pitches.

“The site was subsequently included in the draft Guildford local plan as a potential major development area. We support this allocation.

“However, the local plan has not yet been adopted by the council, which is why we have identified it as ‘emerging’ in our planning statement.”

The applicant states that the project will provide 7,000 square metres of employment and shopping space, with the creation of up to 350 full-time jobs.

The period of submissions to Guildford Borough Council on the plan closes on March 31.