For those of you who may have forgotten.
Or have just arrived on Planet Waverley, a while back there was a planning application to build an 8,000 sq metre warehouse/museum in a green field on a small rural road just a hop, skip and a fence away from Dunsfold Aerodrome. An application, which passed largely unnoticed by many but was refused by Waverley planners.
Now the developer – has appealed to the Government to overturn this decision and an Inspector will be appointed to decide. This appeal will be based on written representations – so everyone’s views are now very important.
It is a very worrying fact that numerous schemes refused locally are now being overturned by the Government!
‘The Wings Museum’ is presently based in Balcombe, Sussex in a large hanger-style building which aims to provide an insight into life in World War 11. It contains memorabilia from the Battle of Britain, the Blitz, The Home Guard, Bomber Command etc.
It was first registered with ‘Your Waverley’ in 2016, – and took years to grind through the planning process?
Having outgrown its existing 12,000 sq ft home, the Trustees acquired a green field off a rural lane in Dunsfold and, despite a minimal income of circa £20,000 per annum, has grand plans to build a 4,000 sq metre building in phase one of their development and grow it to 8,000 sq metres in due course. Its appeal is for an 8,000-metre building.
With projected visitor numbers of some 20,000 per annum, it is hard to imagine a site less suited to be a museum. If consented visitors will be obliged to approach the venue via Dunsfold village or the Alfold Crossway Junction with the A281, wending their way down single track rural roads with few passing places and multiple blind bends. This is particularly concerning given that a location plan, submitted with the planning application, shows a large area given over to coach parking!!!
Our followers over there nearly choked on their cornflakes when contemplating a 52-seater coach navigating the narrow confines of The Crossways into Dunsfold Road!!! Woe betides the driver if they happen to meet a Cranleigh Freight HGV en route! That’s an encounter they say they would pay good money to see!
The Museum’s original planning application garnered a number of expressions of support primarily, it must be said, from existing Wings Museum enthusiasts, none of whom, it appears live in Waverley. Surprise! Surprise! Folkestone, Worthing, Kingswood and Horley are but a few of the outposts from which these supporters hail and, clearly, they don’t have a clue about the location of their pet project which one local objector refers to as ‘a rural location: reference to Policy RE1 Countryside beyond the Green Belt in the new 2018 LPP1′.
Reading their correspondence, some of the Wings enthusiasts seem to be under the mistaken impression that the new Museum will be situated on Dunsfold Aerodrome itself but that isn’t the case. As far as we can ascertain from the locals over there, it appears to be situated on land formerly owned by the Barnfield Estate.
Barnfield is a property – which has been on and off the market like a yo-yo for a number of years now – formerly owned by Rupert Howell, of Trinity Mirror Group (owners of the Sorry Advertiser). Now sold to an unknown buyer? Any clues to whom, anyone?
We at the Waverley Web aren’t planning experts but believe, the size of the proposed museum structure – at a height of circa 15 metres – is larger than almost all the existing hangers and industrial units at nearby Dunsfold Park. It has been claimed the proposed new building could comfortably accommodate…
The Waverley Web concurs with the locals that the proposed location of the new Wings Museum is completely inappropriate. Why the hell would an Inspector consent to a development on this scale on a greenfield site when it could so much more easily and sensibly be accommodated on an adjacent brownfield site? A brownfield site, moreover, that already has a small museum of its own which according to its Masterplan will have a new Museum over the course of the development. But looking elsewhere (Farnham) at recent appeal decisions, stranger things have happened.
Several objectors point out that they fail to see how such a small charity as the Wings Museum – with annual receipts of circa £22,000 from approximately 5,000 visitors – can possibly afford the construction and development of a multi-million-pound project which would increase the size of its existing museum to six times that of its current site.
The recently opened Aerospace Museum in Bristol, whose running costs were £1.25 million in its first year, had over 150,000 visitors, generating receipts of some £1.91 million. These figures alone call into question the commercial viability of the Wings Museum’s proposal:
- If it is deemed to be commercially viable then it follows that the visitor numbers will, necessarily, be huge and this greenfield site on a badly maintained single-track country lane with few passing places and very poor public transport links simply could not cope with them.
- If once consented and built, the Museum proves to be unviable, what will happen to the building? Will the museum’s trustees/benefactors seek a change of use to warehousing or other industrial uses?