The proposed phasing of home building at the former Wisley Airfield site
David Cameron is not involved in a proposed new town on the site of the former Wisley Airfield, according to the man fronting the project, when challenged by infuriated neighbours on horseback.
Mike Murray, of Wisley Property Investments is managing the scheme which would put up to 2,100 homes on the green belt , but he has refused to divulge the identities of his investors, with rumours of involvement by high-profile figures.
Mr Murray said: “They are speculating a lot of money and they value their privacy – and one of my jobs is to guard it. It has been pretty unpleasant. There have been threats and abuse and I’m not interested in exposing my investors to that.”
The project has met opposition from neighbours and campaigners who say Wisley has not demonstrated the ‘very special circumstances’ required to justify such a development in the green belt.
Walking back from the site last Friday, Mr Murray was confronted by three neighbours on horseback, including Ingrid Dupre, the former wife of Chris Tarrant.
“I hate you. We all do. You know that don’t you? We’ve got voodoo dolls out,” she said, albeit with tongue-in-cheek. “Please don’t do this – really.”
She said she was against the development in principle but that the impact on the area should be considered.
“It’s such a negative impact,” she said. “It’s urbanising a rural setting.
“It can’t sustain it. It can’t sustain the traffic.”
There have been a number of rumours about where the money for the project is coming from, and although Wisley has an address in the Cayman Islands, Mr Murray said all taxes would be fully paid in the UK.
“I can confirm categorically that David Cameron is not an investor in the business,” he said. “I’m not going to talk about who the investors are. It’s not David Cameron. I can guarantee the only person involved in the business, who is a politician is me.”
Mr Murray is a Conservative councillor, and the portfolio holder for planning, in the Vale of White Horse, in Oxfordshire. He said if a site like Wisley had been found in his district, it would have ‘made life a lot easier’.
“We need new houses,” he said. “It’s all very well for you, living in a house, but where are my children going to live? Will they be sleeping on my sofa at the age of 36?”
The development would include up to 800 affordable homes , to be managed by housing associations, which would be more than have been built in the borough of Guildford over the past decade.
A recent study estimated an affordable housing need of up to 542 new homes a year.
The outline plan is expected to go before the planning committee in August and, if granted, Wisley would go into partnership with developers – most likely a number of firms – as the town is built in phases from west to east.
A spokesman for the Wisley Action Group, which opposes the development, said: “We all value our privacy but when a massive assault on Surrey’s green belt is proposed, with the creation of a ‘new town’, including some 2,100 houses, the residents of the towns and villages which will be affected may justifiably feel that they have a right to know the identity of the proposers.
“It is a matter of record that both Mr Murray and his PR representatives have continually refused to lift the veil of secrecy surrounding the directors of the Cayman Island-based company which owns Three Farms Meadows, the former Wisley airfield, protecting them from reasonable public scrutiny.
“But his accusations of ‘threats and abuse’ would seem to demand further clarification to avoid any potential doubt or confusion.”