Virtual Meeting with representatives from Taylor Wimpey, Wednesday 20th October 2021

The CDRA arranged a meeting with representatives of Taylor Wimpey to discuss the impact of the Wisley Airfield development of 2100 houses on Cobham and Downside. To view the slides presented by Taylor Wimpey's click below:

Further detail of the proposals can also be found in their vimeo newsreel at: https://www.wisleyairfield.com/

Attendees were limited to an agreed maximum of twenty on the ‘Teams’ platform. They included Elmbridge Councillors Alan Parker and James Browne, with Mary Lewis representing David Lewis our Surrey Councillor, members of CDRA and other local organisations.

Taylor Wimpey (TW) explained that they would be submitting a hybrid planning application at the end of October 2021. That means that details of housing phases are likely to be ‘in outline’ only with numbers and tenure of homes identified rather than their final appearance. Some of the early housing and infrastructure will be ‘in detail’. This implies that a series of reserved matters applications will follow over a number of years. This is now the norm for large housing development.

TW explained the amenities in settlements near the new development that have been included in their proposals either as a condition of the Guildford Local Plan or those regarded as desirable by new residents, see slide below:

 

It was pointed out to TW that the use of these amenities by the new development’s residents will impact the nearby settlements and Cobham along with the station in Stoke D’Abernon will play a prominent part in providing facilities and services. TW said that:-

  • they are obliged to provide a primary school onsite to serve the new community. A secondary school is planned subject to need identified by the local education authorities. {Post Meeting Note: Our area is forecast to have a surplus of secondary school places in the coming years.}
  • that the local health authorities had confirmed they should build an on-site health centre but that it was likely to be manned as a satellite of an existing local health centre. Cobham Health Centre had not yet engaged in those discussions due to work load from the pandemic.
  • Cobham and Stoke D’Abernon Station was unlikely to be favoured over the much closer Effingham but a dedicated cycle route to our station through Downside and over the footbridge at Cobham Cemetery was planned. Regular bus routes would be provided to Effingham but bus services to Cobham may be ‘on demand’. The bus route to Cobham would be via Old Lane to Effingham and then Downside Road into the centre of Cobham.
  • Cycle routes into Cobham were planned past the Black Boy pub on Ockham Lane, along Plough Lane via the Plough Lane Conservation Area and Downside Bridge Road to the centre of Cobham. There followed discussion on how this route could be prevented from becoming a rat run for car journeys into Cobham given that Plough Lane was little more than a single-track lane with major surface and foul sewer flooding. They had no clear solution but TW agreed to meet with local representatives to work through their suggestions.
  • They understood the wider sewer flooding problems that plague the lives of residents of Plough Corner as well as parts of Ockham and Ripley. TW were asked to engage with Thames Water and Surrey County Council to ensure that the major works necessary to provide infrastructure to the new development recognised the opportunity to permanently resolve these problems in a coordinated manner.
  • They were not unduly concerned that improvements to the Wisley interchange at M25 Junction 10 might affect timing of the development even though it was a pre-condition impose by Guildford’s Local Plan. {Post meeting note:- it should be noted that a J10 planning and funding decision was due from Government in November but has been deferred again until May 2022. It is unclear how this will affect progress of the Wisley planning application and Guilford Council’s attitude to waiving the precondition.}
  • Our high street businesses could benefit from the additional visitors. {Post meeting note;- but only if parking provision or reliable public transport is added to proposed cycle routes. On demand buses are unlikely to fill the void.}

These points each raise concerns on the impact of the development on our community which we share with other smaller communities neighbouring the site. However, for Cobham, even though these 2100 new homes on Green Belt are on our doorstep, the planning decisions will be made by Guildford Borough Council (GBC) not Elmbridge (EBC). EBC are however statutory consultees and any representations the Council make will carry greater weight than individual residents. EBC are also preparing the final draft of their Local Plan.

Many residents may wish to object to the concept and housing mix of the development directly to GBC. However, we should all also consider what mitigation should be negotiated in advance by EBC should GBC approve it.

This should take two paths. Firstly, the recognition and mitigation of impacts on our communities should be included in the EBC Local Plan. 2100 homes and a population increase of up to 5000 people will have an impact in our area. Secondly, to lobby our EBC councillors and officers to ensure that specific mitigations are included in the conditions and development agreements in any planning permission granted by GBC. When the hybrid application is released for public consultation CDRA will provide commentary and guidance to residents on how this can be followed through but meanwhile we continue to lobby our Councillors on the issues identified above.