A survey of Effingham residents was carried out by Effingham Parish Council (EPC) and Effingham Residents Association (EFFRA) to understand the views of Effingham residents about the proposed development at Wisley Airfield. The planning application was refused by Guildford Borough Council (GBC), subsequent to which Wisley Property Investments Ltd (WPIL), the developer, lodged an appeal due to start on 19th September 2017. The survey was carried out over a 4-week period between the 13th June and 7th July 2017 and its results will form part of the evidence base for the joint statement to the public enquiry by EPC and EFFRA.
The survey consisted of a letter, a summary of the proposed development and a questionnaire. It was hand-delivered to every home in Effingham during the first two weeks of June 2017. The questions were based on those asked by the Horsley parish councils in their survey, to have consistency of information covering the views of residents over the Horsleys and Effingham area.
Residents were asked to return the completed questionnaires to the Parish Office or Sibleys Newsagents. The survey resulted in 354 replies from 256 separate households. This represents a response of over 24% from the 1054 homes in Effingham. The strong views of residents on this proposed development are demonstrated by the return rate of 24% of households, which is high considering that residents had to personally return the questionnaires.
The results show that Effingham residents overwhelming oppose this development. Many commented that special circumstances have not been demonstrated by the developer to build 2000 plus dwellings in the Green Belt.
They see the planning application leading to an over-development of the site, a development completely out of character with the area, which ignores the impact on wildlife, the environment and air pollution, and will overwhelm a rural infrastructure including, roads, public transport and public services. There is much criticism of the developer’s totally inadequate plans to establish public services on site and their inadequate schemes to mitigate traffic congestion, road safety issues, especially during the school day, and the pressure on an already overburdened parking situation at local stations.
Specifically, the comments about the over-development of the site mention the five storey buildings, the density of dwellings being out of character with the surrounding area and the inability of the rural infrastructure to cope with a population increase of over 5000, and 4000 additional vehicles. The developer’s proposals are seen as being completely out of character with a rural area. They will cause massive traffic congestion especially at existing bottlenecks, including Effingham Junction crossroads, with accompanying road safety issues. They will cause parking problems everywhere and an unacceptable burden on existing public services, for example, GP surgeries, schools, rail services, and parking at Effingham Junction station.
Effingham residents see the rural road infrastructure as inadequate to support the number of added vehicle journeys implied by a development of this size. The roads in the area, including in Effingham, are often not wide enough to take two lorries passing without one or both lorries having to go on to the pavement to pass each other.
There is also concern about the possible closure of roads during the development, and afterwards, leading to increased journey times, congestion and road safety issues, especially for cyclists and pedestrians.
Wisley, and the neighbouring areas, have a great diversity of wildlife which will be irreparably harmed by the development of such a large community. Many residents mentioned a rise in air pollution from the many additional vehicle journeys.The main findings from the questionnaire are:
- Effingham residents overwhelmingly, 96% of respondents, oppose the proposed development at Wisley Airfield.
- 78% of respondents believe that the development will make it harder for Effingham children to secure school places in Effingham.
- 89% of respondents believe that the development will significantly add to traffic congestion in Effingham and lead to road safety issues throughout the area.
- 83% of respondents will be inconvenienced by the proposed closure of roads caused by the proposed development, both during the building phase and afterwards, leading to increased journey times and adding to congestion.
- Respondents overwhelming see the proposed development causing the overcrowding of public services: 94% see a severe effect on parking at Effingham Junction station, 79% see a severe impact on them getting a seat on the Guildford to Waterloo service at peak times and 80% see the waiting times at local GP surgeries increasing.
Results of the survey
- Total responses 354.
- 256, 24.3% of the total number of dwellings in Effingham, completed at least one survey.
- 98 properties completed 2 or more surveys.
The full survey results can be read here