Former Wisley Airfield plans a White Elephant?

Over £100 million of Developer infrastructure costs would make it economically unsound

Infrastructure development costs topping £100 million would turn the proposed ‘new town’ development at ‘Three Farms Meadows’, the former Wisley airfield, into a White Elephant – economically unsound and impossible to sell-on to other developers.

The warning came today from Ockham-based campaigners WAG – the Wisley Action Group – which points to the rising infrastructure costs highlighted in Guildford Borough Council’s [GBC] Infrastructure Schedule [Appendix C].

The underlying problem, according to WAG, is that neither GBC nor anyone else has any idea of the financial integrity of the Cayman Islands-based Wisley Property Investments Ltd [WPIL] and whether or not they would be in a position to absorb the rapidly rising costs.

“All the indications are that the project would be economically unsound and while WPIL has not denied that it would probably sell it on, it seems unlikely that another developer would consider buying a White Elephant of this magnitude”, a WAG spokesperson said today.

“A cursory glance at developer costs relating to the Wisley project, detailed in GBC’s Infrastructure Schedule presented on the GBC website, indicates that they are rising substantially. And whoever finally funded the scheme would be paying heavily for M25, Junction 10 improvements between 2019 and 2022 – with potentially zero income in this preliminary period.”

WAG also points out that GBC’s Appendix C schedule does not yet include the high cost of sewerage construction.

“It is clear, therefore, that rising costs and the fact that house building would not be permitted to begin until the required infrastructure was in place, would mean that the developer – whoever it might be – would be faced with a period of at least five years with zero income but substantial borrowing costs,” says WAG.

“And that means no homes would be belt within the first five year period – excluding it from the Draft Local Plan homes delivery schedule and putting the Local Plan in doubt.”