Developers behind plans to build nearly 2,000 homes on the former Wisley Airfield claim that a recent telephone poll of 500 residents, aged 18-40, shows a surge in support for a new community to be constructed on a “strategic site” still ear-marked for development in the most recent draft Local Plan.
In a press release Wisley Property Investments Ltd (WPIL) state: “The latest results show a significant majority of those surveyed (57 per cent) are in favour of the proposals to redevelop the abandoned site.
But a spokesman for Wisley Action Group, which is objecting to the development proposals, criticised the scale of the survey and the claim that it would provide affordable houses.
The telephone survey, undertaken by market research agency Marketing Means on behalf of WPIL, interviewed 500 Guildford Borough residents aged 18-40 in February and March this year.
The press release continued: “The survey tested views on plans for a new community at the Wisley Airfield which can deliver up to 800 subsidised and 1200 market homes, community facilities, shops, sports facilities and a huge parkland area. The proposals make use of the abandoned airfield at Wisley which, featuring more than 70 acres of crumbling concrete and hardstanding, including a runway over a mile long, is an obvious choice for development.
“This backs up a recent surge in support for the application which has seen more than 500 emails of support sent to GBC since October 2016.”
Project director Mike Murray said: “Younger people in the borough are frequently ignored when it comes to housing. This survey makes it clear just how many Guildford residents want to own their own home and how many are struggling to do so. That means many are having to live with their families or are being forced out of the area entirely.
“A significant majority of young people surveyed, 57%, support the proposals for a sustainable new community at Wisley Airfield which can provide up to 800 subsidised homes as part of a wider plan which includes market homes, shops, schools, commercial space, sport facilities and a vast parkland. 800 affordable homes equates to around 10% of Guildford Borough’s entire need for affordable homes until 2032.”
“Wisley Airfield was abandoned more than 30 years ago and has more than 70 acres of crumbling runway and hardstanding. It sits near the A3 and is within easy cycling distance of several railway stations. With house prices running at 14 times average earnings, and a majority of young people in support, surely now is the time for sites like Wisley to deliver.
One Guildford resident who was phoned in the survey said: “They were not interested in my view once I said gave my age as over 60. The girl was polite enough but I got the distinct impression she was conducting the survey for the council.”
Tony Edwards of Wisley Action Group said: “In the real world, where facts always outweigh fantasies, a credible survey is usually a 2,000+ sample. 500 doesn’t really cut it for me, especially when over 2,000 people have already objected to the proposal.
“But then trying to link the ‘new town’ proposal to the fact that obviously people want affordable homes, is a nonsense. £300k+ ain’t affordable by any stretch of the imagination – and that will be the cost, according to Mike Murray.”
Council leader Paul Spooner told The Dragon in a recent interview that he did not expect the developments included in the new draft Local Plan to significantly effect house prices in Guildford Borough.
Surrey has some of the highest rents and house prices in the country. The average monthly rent in Surrey is £1,859 – almost double the level in Sussex or Kent.
Rightmove gives the average house price in Surrey as £509,000 – 18 times the average Guildford salary 0f £28,000 (source The Guardian).