ALARM is spreading in Chobham and the surrounding communities at a proposal to build at least 1,500 houses on the Fairoaks Airport land.
The airfield owners want to replace the site with a ‘garden village’, which would almost double the number of homes in the parish.
Flying would cease at Fairoaks, which has been operating in various forms since 1931. This would allay fears that the aviation operation could be expanded, causing more disturbance from aircraft.
But the new settlement, off the Chobham to Ottershaw A319 road and bordering Horsell Common, would increase traffic on the already busy roads, and add much strain to local facilities and infrastructure.
Chobham Parish Council – alerted to the plans by a letter from Surrey Heath MP Michael Gove seeking its views – unanimously voted to oppose a Fairoaks ‘garden village’ at its meeting last Thursday.
“Along with all the other surrounding developments – proposals to build a large estate on the old military test track at Longcross, and 600 homes opposite McLaren at Horsell – another 1,500 houses in the Fairoaks plan, will jam up our village roads,” said council Chairman Les Coombs.
“We just haven’t got the facilities, such as schools and doctors, to cope with that many extra people.
“We are concerned that the councillors on the urban side of Surrey Heath will push this through because the borough is desperate to meet its housing quota.”
Mr Coombs added that the parish council is also concerned at the loss of aviation-related jobs if the airport is closed.
Chobham Society has not formally discussed the proposal but villagers expressed alarm at the possibility during the group’s autumn meeting on Wednesday last week.
The two companies that own the aerodrome, Albemarle Fairoaks Airport Ltd and TEREF ADP Fairoaks Ltd, have combined to form Fairoaks Garden Village Ltd to take advantage of Government support for the principle of building garden villages, cities and towns.
These are new settlements on previously developed land, designed to provide hundreds of thousands of homes across the country to help meet the UK’s housing shortage.
The Government says these should be ‘ambitious, locally-led proposals for new communities that work as self-sustaining places, not dormitory suburbs’. They should not be near existing settlements and should create their own infrastructure.
If approved, the Fairoaks plans would see the site redeveloped from mid-2018 at the earliest. It is intended that a planning application will be submitted to Surrey Heath Borough Council in late summer 2017.
The owners say the new village would help the local authority meet its need for homes, business space and community facilities. It could include a new primary school, healthcare facilities and a nursery.
A spokesman for Fairoaks Garden Village Ltd said: “The plans are in the very early stages, and the principles of the scheme are being discussed with the borough council.
“Prior to submitting a planning application, the owners will undertake a comprehensive consultation process, starting early next year, to develop and incorporate the ‘garden village’ principles into a masterplan.”
As well as the aviation-related firms, a large number of small businesses are based at Fairoaks, including an artist’s studio and a photographic company.
Fairoaks Garden Village Ltd will encourage them to occupy the proposed new business premises, helping to create a mixed-use community that could lead to additional jobs.
Independent Borough Councillor Victoria Wheeler added: “I’m hoping the Government, the developers and Surrey Heath will engage fully with the ward councillors and local people on what is intended, particularly with regard to the large housing developments planned in surrounding areas.”