TAYLOR Wimpey reps have all but admitted producing misleading figures in their summary of public response to their Byfleet plans.
Their findings from their exhibition for an ambitious development on green belt land in Byfleet claimed that a larger proportion of residents support their proposals.
The plans involve 220 new homes on two sites and a wildlife park on the third: land is earmarked to the south of Parvis Road; south of Rectory Land and Murrays Lane; and a site between Fullerton Road and the River Wey, which were available for public feedback.
However, when residents discovered the housebuilders had claimed many of them were in favour of the development, a large number of angry villagers hit back, fiercely protective of what green belt they have remaining.
Joint Chairman of the Neighbourhood Forum, John Bond, requested sight of the feedback forms to verify the findings. The housebuilders’ representatives, Webb Associates PR, came back with a surprising reply: “We have taken the unusual step of agreeing to make the forms available to view in the interests of openness and as a gesture of goodwill.”
As a result, two representatives were invited to view the questionnaires – at Woking Borough Council’s offices. When Mr Bond pointed out that Web Associates had omitted to include a large number of online feedback forms in their response figures, they were forced to admit this was the case.
They claimed that this had arisen ‘due to an issue with the website’. In further correspondence, Webb Associates stated: “We are grateful to you for drawing our attention to the missing online feedback forms. “This has now been resolved and the additional 77 responses have been assessed and included in our analysis. It should be noted that these responses do not materially alter the proportion of people in favour or undecided about our proposals.”
Nevertheless, the figures they compare are the percentage of people opposed to the plans – 56 – versus those in favour (23 per cent, now up to 28) plus, those perhaps misleadingly, lumped in with the number of people who are undecided (21 per cent now reduced to 16) making 44 per cent.
They said: “All feedback forms will be included within our Statement of Community Involvement as part of our planning submission and will be available for the public to read.”
Sceptical of how they arrived at these figures, Mr Bond said: “I really believe the council should initiate a full independent audit to find out how seriously they [Taylor Wimpey] have distorted the facts. “These companies will influence Woking in the future – is this safe for any of us?
“We still do not know how many additional forms there might be; there could still be another 100 negative responses. And remember that an unknown number of positive responses were from people outside the village – Taylor Wimpey have refused to say how many even after promising to do so.”