GBC has agreed WAG’s request for more time to study the additional 3000 pages of amended documentation. WAG expects to post a response before end February but understands from local councillors and the case officer that all representations made prior to the application going to Planning Committee will be taken into consideration
Local campaigners accuse Cayman Island developers of ignoring fundamental facts
The following media statement was issued by the Wisley Action Group on Jan 4, 2016
Local campaigners have accused the owners of the former Wisley airfield of making misleading statements and claims connected with their proposals to build a ‘new town’ on the green belt at Ockham.
‘Three Farms Meadows’ has been described by Wisley Property Investments [WPI] as lowest Grade 4 land when, in reality, the majority is Grade 3 prime agricultural land – as advertised by Knight Frank in 2014. And it has not “been removed from the Green Belt within the emerging GBC Local Plan” as WPI has repeatedly claimed.
“WPI has specifically stated that the land has been taken out of the Green Belt as part of the Guildford Greenbelt Review and this is simply not so,” says Helen Jefferies of WAG, the Wisley Action Group.
And WAG maintains that this “fundamentally misleading statement” is only one of many regularly presented by this Cayman Island-based company – including claims to already have direct access onto the A3 at Ockham Interchange; an existing daily bus service; areas of land which it does not own and which are unavailable to them; and a statement that it is the only assembled site available for development now as part of the 5 year housing supply.”
All of this, and more, is untrue and ignores fundamental facts, according to WAG.
“It is well documented that the approval for the access route was only for a waste composting facility with limited truck movements,” says Mrs Jefferies. “As this development will not now take place, the approval for the spur road will lapse and a new application must be approved.
“The claim of a daily bus service is false as there exists no service other than a school bus. Equally WPI’s application is based on an assumption of utilising land which they don’t own and which has been expressly excluded by local land owners. And the notion that this land would be available to contribute to the 5 year housing supply is contradicted by the fact that the site is subject to up to 3 years work by Thames Water – subject to funding – and Natural England agreeing a SANGS area of 10 ha per 1,000 population.“
Pollution levels in the area have also been misrepresented, according to WAG. Referring to nitrogen oxides [NOx] levels at Wisley, WPI representatives have stated that; “new residents will not be negatively affected due to predicted concentrations of these pollutants being below the relevant air quality objectives as set out in the UK Air Quality Strategy,” which WAG says is untrue.
“Current data available suggests that NO2 levels should not exceed 40. The NO2 level at Wisley has been recorded as 44 in both 2011 and 2012 and nearly 45 in 2013. And levels are rising.”
WAG also points to WPI’s web site which claims the site has 70 acres of hard standing or the equivalent of 70 football pitches.
“This is a typically flagrant exaggeration of reality since 70 acres represents just 35 football pitches – exactly half,” says Mrs Jefferies. “But WPI seems unconcerned about allowing the facts to interfere with their ambitions.”
And WPI claims to have undertaken a comprehensive consultation programme, which included engagement with stakeholders, is blatantly untrue, says WAG.
“One of the key heritage properties, adjacent to the site has objected and stated that they have never been consulted at any time. And neither WAG nor Ockham Parish Council or the Ockham & Hatchford Residents’ Association has any record of an invitation to discuss the project.”
The Surrey Councy Council Highways Authority has submitted its initial response to the proposal to build 2,100 homes in the middle of the green belt. I’ll quote the introduction.
The proposed development has been considered by Surrey County Council (SCC) as County Highway Authority and it is recommended that the proposal is REFUSED on the grounds that it has not been demonstrated that the development is in a location which is or can be made sustainable from a transportation point of view, or that the residual traffic generated by the development can be satisfactorily accommodated on the surrounding network.
And here’s the coverage from this week’s Surrey Advertiser
It’s worth a skim of the full report. It’s clear that the traffic assessment carried out by Wisley Property Investments is riddled with dodgy assumptions, such as the idea that a high proportion of those living there will work on site, and/or home work…(rejected by SCC).
From last week’s Surrey Advertiser, the Surrey Wildlife Trust gives its view on the proposed development
“The trust believes that the proposed development will have an unacceptable impact on the biodiversity on this highly sensitive area, which cannot be mitigated for despite the strategy outlined in the applicant’s environmental statement,” wrote Mike Waite, living landscapes manager.
“This comes down largely to the proposed scale of the development at 2,100 houses, including its location and internal layout.”
Mr Waite highlighted that to the immediate north of the application site is Ockham Common and Chatley Heath, the majority of which is statutorily protected land within the Ockham and Wisley Commons Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), part of a designated protection area for three heathland breeding birds.
Mr Waite continued: “Much of the land south of the SSSI, including a large area within the application site, has been selected and adopted by yourselves, Guildford Borough Council, as non-statutory Sites of Nature Conservation Importance for protection through planning policy.”
Interesting story on Get Surrey about how Elmbridge council (which neighbours the proposed development) have responded. It’s not just that they have objected, but they have questionned the validity of the whole process.
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.”
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.”