2,000-home Surrey green belt plan recommended for refusal

Planning officers have recommended refusal of plans for more than 2,000 homes on a disused airfield in the Surrey countryside, concluding that the level of development proposed would 'seriously harm the openness of the green belt'.

Former Wisley airfield: 2,068-home application recommended for refusal (picture by Alan Hunt, Geograph)
Former Wisley airfield: 2,068-home application recommended for refusal (picture by Alan Hunt, Geograph)

Guildford Borough Council’s planning committee is due to next week consider applicant Wisley Property Investment’s outline application for the creation of a new settlement on the site of the former Wisley Airfield, which lies within the green belt.

The application seeks permission for up to 2,068 homes, including elderly persons’ accommodation and Gypsy and traveller pitches, with associated facilities including a combined primary and secondary school, health centre, retail uses, employment land and public open space.

An officers’ report to the planning committee recommends that the application be refused, stating that the development constitutes inappropriate development on the green belt, which "would seriously harm the openness of the green belt".

It adds that, while the development includes significant benefits, "most notably the delivery of market and affordable housing, it has not been demonstrated that the benefits of the proposal clearly outweigh the totality of the harm caused and therefore very special circumstances do not currently exist".

The officers’ report also says that there is currently "insufficient information to demonstrate that the development would not impact on the Thames Basin Heaths Special Protection Area".

It adds that "concerns also remain in respect of the loss of the waste allocation, the impact on the character and appearance of the area, the air quality impacts, the impacts on a heritage asset, the impacts on existing retail centres and the infrastructure proposed to meet the future needs of the development".

According to press reports, applicant Wisley Property Investments has said it will ask for more time to discuss "remaining issues" and expects to resolve matters "later this summer".

A draft local plan, published by Guildford Borough Council in 2014, proposed releasing land for a new settlement at Wisley airfield. The council later announced that the plan would not be submitted for examination until after the 2015 general election due to the high levels of public response to the consultation.

According to a local development scheme published by the council in September 2015, the authority currently intends to consult on a pre-submission version of the document in June.

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