Guildford planners ignored key
facts in Wisley ‘New Town’ plan
National Planning Policy has been
brushed aside, say campaigners
Guildford planners have ignored and brushed aside government guidelines by including ‘Three Farms Meadows’ – the former Wisley airfield – in the current draft Local Plan, despite being fully aware that insufficient land is available for the project.
And they have failed to act on an official letter from chartered town planners pointing out their error and calling on Guildford to remove the site from the plan, according to the Wisley Action Group [WAG].
A letter from town planners Bell Cornwell to members of Guildford Borough Council’s Executive and the Head of Planning Services, on June 4th, explained that The National Planning Policy Guidance confirmed that, in order to be included in the housing land supply, a site must be both AVAILABLE and DELIVERABLE at the time of inclusion.
Bell Cornwell confirmed that the plan for a ‘new town’ on the Wisley site includes land which is outside the ownership and control of Wisley Property Investments [WPI] and, accordingly, does not qualify.
Their letter explained that landowners had not been consulted about the inclusion of their land in the plan and that their properties were not available for the proposed development. It went on to confirm that one of the land owners had informed Carol Humphrey, Head of Planning Services, in a letter, that their land was not available.
The Bell Cornwell letter also cited some of the other, clearly identifiable restraints to development at Wisley, including the Heathrow air traffic control DVOR at the eastern end of the site and legal issues arising from the Thames Basin Heaths SPA and the Habitat Regulations which meant that the necessary land was neither available nor deliverable in the plan period. [See attached Letter for details]
But the letter and its clear implications were not discussed or even raised at last Wednesday’s Special Meeting of the Executive at Millmead, although its receipt was acknowledged.
Helen Jefferies, committee member of the Wisley Action Group, said today that fundamental facts had been brushed aside by Guildford’s planning team.
“It is abundantly clear that the would-be developers do not have sufficient available land on which to deliver their proposed ‘new town’. And that means that the proposal does not qualify for inclusion in the draft Local Plan,” she says.
“The facts surrounding these issues were presented, in writing, by chartered town planners prior to the Executive meeting on the evening of June 4th but were totally ignored.”
WAG claims that even if an additional 12 ha of land outside the developers’ ownership were to become available, there would still be insufficient land on which to build a new settlement.
Renewed calls this week to both Cllr Juneja, Lead Councillor for Planning, and Carol Humphrey Head of Planning Services, to explain why the Wisley ‘new town’ plan remains in the draft Local Plan, despite indisputable facts which disqualify it for inclusion, have been ignored.
Note to Editors.
Please see letter of June 4th from Bell Cornwell to Guildford planning executive which accompanies this statement.
Issued on behalf of the Wisley Action Group [WAG] June 10th 2014
By Tony Edwards
Anthony Edwards Publicity
Tel 01483 222722 Fax 01483 223989
e-mail. [email protected]