Elmbridge Borough Council votes to object to the Wisley Airfield development, questioning the lack of consultation from its Guildford counterpart during the application process
13:44, 24 March 2015 By Tom Smurthwaite
Initial designs for a town of more than 2,000 homes which could be built on the site of WisleyInitial designs for a town of more than 2,000 homes which could be built on the site of Wisley Airfield
Plans for a major development on largely green belt land at Wisley Airfield have been slammed as “untenable” by a neighbouring ward councillor in Elmbridge, who severely criticised planning authority Guildford Borough Council and highlighted the potential impact on nearby towns.
Elmbridge Borough Council voted unanimously to raise an objection to the proposal at a West Area Planning Sub-Committee meeting on Monday evening (March 23).
It relates to an application submitted by Wisley Property Investments last December to build 2,100 homes on and around the airfield in Ockham, along with a primary school, nursery, health facility and shops.
Councillor Timothy Grey, representing Cobham Fairmile, believes the whole proposal has been “appallingly managed”.
He said: “I’ve tried to familiarise myself with the planning process of Guildford Borough Council, and if I thought we had problems in Elmbridge – Guildford is well behind everything that we have achieved.
“This is nonsense, and it feeds into the paranoia that this development is being pushed through for nefarious reasons.”
TMS Campaigners from the Wisley Action GroupWisley Action Group is opposing the plans
Cllr Grey questioned the lack of consultation from the neighbouring borough before the plans were submitted.
“I cannot understand why Guildford didn’t come to us in the beginning and say ‘We are thinking about doing this, what do you think?’,” Cllr Grey said.
“It is simply untenable – Guildford should have paid us the respect of coming and asking us. I urge them to get their house in order.”
According to Cllr Grey, the area will struggle with a development of this size.
“The impact on Cobham will be significant, the impact on Weybridge will be significant, the impact on our roads will be significant, the impact on our GP surgeries will be significant – how is anyone who isn’t in good health going to get an appointment?” Cllr Grey as.
“We simply don’t have the infrastructure to cope with 2,100 homes, we simply cannot do it.
“Frankly it smells fishy to me, and I’m supposed to be someone who’s above that sort of petty mongering.”
The land surrounding the airfield, Cllr Grey believes, should also be protected.
“A large extremity of the development is on green belt land, so Guildford must show special circumstances,” he said.
“It is a rural area in an urban setting. Guildford says there is a lack of credible alternatives, well I can think of six or seven other locations.
“Their borough does not need this and frankly nor does ours.”
Artist’s impression of the proposed development
Cllr John Butcher, representing Cobham and Downside, fears that sooner or later a development will be approved at the site.
He said: “I think that in the future a government minister will come in and pass this application or one similar to it.
“If Guildford is minded to grant planning permission, it should at least put in place conditions, such as a secondary school provision – maybe a free school could be built that could relieve the Howard of Effingham.”
And Cllr Simon Foale, representing St George’s Hill, was another to query the role of Guildford Borough Council during the application process.
“I feel that we do need additional housing but there’s been no proper planning, there have been been no proper discussions with us,” Cllr Foale said.
“There could be a good development here but only if the infrastructure is put in place – we need to work together to put it right.”
The consultation on the application has been extended to Tuesday March 31.
To comment, visit the Guildford Borough Council website, planning reference 15/P/00012.