For those who don’t know – there’s a public meeting tonight (Weds, Feb 25) at the East Horsley Village Hall at 7.15pm to discuss the proposal for the New Town.
We have until March 31 to respond to application 15/P/00012 – with its plan to build a 2,100 home new town. You will need to write your own letter/ email (see details at the end of this post), but some of the points you might want to make are..
– This is a major and unjustified encroachment on the Green belt, and a dangerous precedent. Impact on the openness of the Metropolitan Green Belt and the negative impact on views to and from the Surrey Hills AONB
– The urbanisation of a rural area (2100 new dwellings, over 5,100 new residents, plus employees and visitors with a negative impact on light pollution, air pollution, traffic, infrastructure, SERVICES, roads etc
– New resident population (and number of dwellings) will be at least 14 x that of Ockham, 3.5 times that of Ripley and 2.5 times that of Send.
– New buildings will be up to five storeys high.
– Impact on the environmentally sensitive Thames Basin Heath Special Protection Area, Site of Special Scientific Interest and the Site of Nature Conservation Interest resulting in loss of habitat for a number of protected and endangered species
– There has been no demonstration of very special circumstances to change green belt boundaries
– Housing need in the borough is not yet determined
– Outline planning permission provides a number of loopholes for the applicant to renege on promises which cannot be guaranteed by Section 106 agreements.
– Reliance on the motor car and non-existent public transport where there are clear alternatives in locations where access to the train or existing public transport network are feasible
– There are only two (not 9) railway stations (Horsley and Effingham Junction) within five road miles of the site and these are only reachable via narrow, unlit counry lanes and have car parking already at near capacity.
– Impact on the water table resulting in flooding of neighbouring historic properties
– No realistic account taken of general organic growth and other proposed major developments and impact on traffic and infrastructure
– Inevitable major increase in traffic to and from the site along unsuitable narrow unlit country lantes (which are, and will remain, overly dangerous for pedestrians and cyclists)
– The size and timing of construction of a proposed primary school on site, are issues not only for resident population, but existing demand in the area. There is no secondary school allocation at nearby secondary schools – no room to build on site
– Density of development misrepresented and far in excess of surrounding neighbourhoods and villages
– There is unsustainable pressures on services in neighbouring villates (doctors, dentists, schools, shops, parking) which will not be met by proposed facilities on the site.
– Includes the area safeguarded for waste under the Surrey Waste Plan 2009 which SCC refused to concede in their response to the Draft Local Plan in September
– The inclusion of onsite SANGS (Suitable Alternative Natural Green Space) in mitigation is ridiculous as it will only increase visitor numbers to the SPA rather than draw them away
– Not enough SANG allocated per Natural England response to draft local plan
– Not enough land to provide a sustainable community based on GBC’s own parameters
– Does not concur with the existing Local Plan 2003 where this site is not listed for development
Please email firstname.lastname@example.org giving your name and address – residents from outside the borough are able to register their views so letters from the wider area which will be impacted by the traffic increase, hospital capacity shortage, school places etc would be welcomed. Please copy email@example.com on your response
There will be a public meeting about the proposed development on the evening of Wednesday February 25 at East Horsley Village Hall in the Millenium Room – start at 7.45pm. See you there!
It’s now vital to get as many people as possible to put their objections to Wisley Property Investment’s planning proposal to put 2,100 homes in the middle of the Guildford Green belt. The deadline for submission is on March 31.
You can email: planning firstname.lastname@example.org, quoting the application number: 15/P/00012. Or you can use the online commenting system on their website (you will need to register for this).
The council seem to be uploading letters (some of them at least) as they come in – you can find them at the bottom of the ‘related documents’ section of the planning application
So – to give you a nudge and a bit of inspiration: here are four sample letters (all .pdf files)
Just one example of how ill equipped our infrastructure is for having the third largest settlement in the borough dropped onto it. This is from Thames Water’s submission (.pdf download)
Thames Water has identified an inability of the existing waste water infrastructure to accommodate the needs of this application. Should the Local Planning Authority look to approve the application, Thames Water would like the following ‘Grampian Style’ condition imposed. “Development shall not commence until a drainage strategy detailing any on and/or off site drainage works, has been submitted to and approved by, the local planning authority in consultation with the sewerage undertaker. No discharge of foul or surface water from the site shall be accepted into the public system until the drainage works referred to in the strategy have been completed”. Reason – The development may lead to sewage flooding; to ensure that sufficient capacity is made available to cope with the new development; and in order to avoid adverse environmental impact upon the community.
The Guildford Dragon reports this week on some of the objections by WAG to the proposed new town. First our efforts to let the people of Guildford know exactly who is behind this scheme.
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.”
Next the deeply spurious claim made by the developers that 60% of those that visited the WPI roadshows left with ‘neutral or positive reaction’
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.”
And, as is so often the case – the very inconsistent distribution of information about the latest planning application
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.
From this week’s Surrey Advertiser: Wisley Airfield campaigners label green belt claims a ‘fantasy’
Campaigners have expressed their outrage after it was claimed that a development of more than 2,000 homes at the former Wisley Airfield site ‘will not cause harm to the green belt’.
The Wisley Action Group [WAG] is casting its collective eyes over the documentation submitted with a planning application which was lodged with Guildford Borough Council earlier this month.
The application, by the Cayman Islands-registered Wisley Property Investments, to build up to 2,100 properties, as well as a school, care home and shops, is now with the council’s planning officers for consideration.
The plans have been described by WAG as a ‘massive assault on Guildford’s green belt’ and the group argues that the very special circumstances which could justify development do not exist.
This week, campaigners discovered an appendix of the application’s planning statement, drawn up by Savills, entitled Green Belt: Very Special Circumstances Statement.
It reads: “The development by virtue of the mix of use proposed, and mitigation measures forwarded, will not cause harm to the Green Belt, or any other harm.”
A spokesman for WAG said: “We are ploughing through the mountains of documentation which constitute this proposed assault on the borough’s green belt and believe it would be inappropriate to make any formal comment until we have a more fully formulated picture of both of the application and its implications, together with the likely impact on the borough.
“The highly contradictory ‘no harm to the green belt’ statement is, unfortunately, just one of many claims which appear to be fundamentally at variance with reality.
“Its author demonstrates a vivid imagination and could undoubtedly look forward to a promising career in literary fiction – albeit in the fantasy genre.
“WAG is discussing the application with legal representatives and will be staging a public meeting during February.”
WPI argues that the former airfield, which is outside the area of outstanding natural beauty, contributes less to the purposes of the green belt than other areas identified as potential sites for major house building projects in the borough.
The company has claimed that more than 60% of feedback at public consultation events in East Horsley, Ripley and Guildford, was either positive or neutral.
Mike Murray, of Causeway Land, the project co-ordinator, said: “With around 70 acres of concrete runway and hardstanding, Wisley Airfield site contains the largest area of previously developed site in the Guildford green belt.
“The new community will combine the best of modern services and countryside living and will feature shops, a school, two nurseries, sports facilities, medical provision, employment areas and a care home.
“Wisley Airfield is the only strategic site in the borough that can realistically deliver significant housing within five years and is one of the best connected strategic sites in the borough.
“There are nine railway stations, including Woking and Effingham Junction, within five miles of the site and consent has already been granted for direct access from the A3 at the Ockham Interchange.”
A spokesman for the project added: “Development is possible in the green belt where justified against very special circumstances, as outlined in our proposal.”
An article in the Surrey advertiser announces the latest planning application – for 2,100 homes on Three Farm Meadows.
The Wisley Action Group has criticised the proposal, saying it is illogical, ill-conceived and a massive assault on Guildford’s green belt at a time when the council declared support for its protection.
“While the Cayman Island-based owners of Three Farms Meadows, the former Wisley Airfield, have repeatedly claimed that the land represents the largest previously developed area in Guildford, it quite clearly isn’t,” a spokesman for the action group said.
“Nearly three-quarters of this green belt location is farmland and open countryside and has always been so. And, as confirmed by leading counsel, Peter Village QC, there is insufficient available land for a proposal of this nature.
“The area lacks existing facilities – as already confirmed by the Green Belt and Countryside Study, prepared for Guildford Borough Council by Pegasus Consulting.
“No utilities, no sewerage, no drainage, highways, pavements, shops, surgeries, schools.
“The local infrastructure would be totally unable to cope.
“Undoubtedly the prospect of some 5,000 extra cars jamming the already congested roads in Ockham, Horsley, Ripley, Cobham, Effingham, Bookham and other areas will make this proposal a matter of deep concern for the whole borough.”
I had the delight on Saturday of going to one of Wisley Property Investments ‘Exhibitions’ where they showed their plans for the new town on Three Farms Meadows. Oh the joy of having people from the project team selling me the benefits of having 2,500 houses built. [one admitted this was likely to take 10 years to complete]
My favourite bit was one of the ‘project team’ saying: ‘You’ll have a shop in walking distance’ . As if that would compensate for everything.
Anyway, the image above is their Masterplan. And God it’s horrible. But the thing that really really stood out is just how bad, how unbelievably, shockingly bad this will be for local traffic. This is what I picked up, and some of the comments I got from their ‘traffic expert’.
So, the main entrance/ exit is supposedly on the A3 roundabout. Excellent, so every morning we’ll have a thousand cars heading onto that roundabout onto an already rammed A3 or into Ripley.
At this point I was told they’d be sorting out a widening of the A3/ M25 junction. and building a slip road from the roundabout to get cars straight onto the southbound A3 to keep the traffic from going through Ripley. If they’re acknowledging they have to do that, then they know it’s going to be trouble.
But of course, we know that this end will get busy and that people will really come out at the other end – either onto Ockham Lane and/or Old Lane. So they’ve said they’ll put in some ‘traffic calming’ on Ockham Lane. Aaaaagh. Excellent, so we go from having a small country lane that already has too much traffic on it, to a small country lane that has too much traffic on it and traffic lights. Oh, and if you’re a cyclist, that’s just great.
I started asking how many cars they would expect during rush hour. She said their estimate was 1,000. She then said that the normal commuters might actually cut through the New Town to get to the A3 taking traffic away from Ockham Lane. Basically making the new town a massive rat run. Nice.
Of course, there’s no knowing where the traffic will be heading. The people who live their could all just as easily be going off to work in Kingston as Guildford or heading off to the station.
I dread to think what it will be like the weekend.
Oh, and there’s the bus…but we can go into that another time.
This is before we start to look in detail at the actual proposals, but regardless of the vandalism to the Greenbelt from the new town, this is a traffic nightmare in the making.
GBC have released the latest part of their Green Belt and Countryside study.
It Includes a 7 page analysis [7mb .pdf download] of whether Three Farms Meadows (the former Wisley Airfield) is suitable as a Potential Major Development Area (PMDA) of around 4,000 people.
Their conclusion is that it does – if they use the limits set out in the map above. This means they will absorb Bridge End Farm and all properties down onto that part of Ockham Lane – which will require the purchase of additional land.
WAG has a number of objections to the conclusions here. Most notably..
1. The air quality is already so poor that the nearest sensor to the site is in breach of EU limits which not only affects human health but also affects the SPA protected heathland and the plants at the RHS.
2. The development is not sustainable because the roads are already clogged up so the idea of providing buses to jobs in Guildford an unrealistic option, and narrow local roads can’t handle more cars
More broadly, there’s a huge effort in this document to argue that a settlement would not interfere with a number of the purposes of the Green Belt. Which misses the point. It is Green Belt. Buildling on it, is taking away the Green Belt. There is plenty of land in the urban area which can accommodate large numbers of dwellings, but despite the city centre being in desperate need to regeneration GBC continues to want to ruin the countryside.