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Allowing Appeal Would Have ‘Devastating Effect’ on Village – Claims Parish Councillor

Published on: 5 Jun, 2017
Updated on: 8 Jun, 2017

The Effingham planning appeal hearing underway in the GBC council chamber with planning inspector David Morgan presiding.

By Chris Dick

An Effingham parish councillor has claimed that if a planning appeal for major developments in Effingham is allowed it will have a devastating effect on the community and Neighbourhood Plan.

The claim from Cllr Paula Moss comes in the wake of a public inquiry, into a planning proposal to build 295 homes and a 2,000-pupil redeveloped school, came to a close last Friday (June 2 2017).

But Berkely Homes, who are proposing the development and made the appeal after planning permission was refused by Guildford Borough Council, still hope to work with Effingham Parish Council “to deliver a sympathetic and high-quality development” if the appeal is allowed.

Cllr Paula Moss, who presented detailed evidence to support her claim that there was no need to rebuild the school, said: “This proposal would have a devastating effect on the Effingham community and on our Neighbourhood Plan, destroying years of hard work by local residents to set out our vision for the future of our village.

“I see no need for any expansion of the school as the Howard of Effingham has always been able to meet the needs of the community and this is expected to continue into the foreseeable future.”

Borough councillor for Effingham Liz Hogger (Lib Dem), who gave also evidence at the inquiry, said: “The appeal proposal would result in urban sprawl overwhelming the historic village and conservation area. The proposed site for the huge new school building, on the eastern part of Effingham Lodge Farm, would destroy the clear green gap between Effingham and Little Bookham, and block the wildlife corridor through to the ancient woodland of Thornet Wood.

“To allow this appeal and force complete revision of Effingham’s own Neighbourhood Plan would contradict the whole spirit of localism, allowing the tail to wag the dog. It seems clear the Neighbourhood Plan is likely to play a significant part in the final decision.”

In a press release the parish council highlighted evidence given by some expert witnesses.

Heritage expert Peter Bell said that Effingham’s conservation area with its historic village centre and many listed buildings would, he said, be overwhelmed by so many new houses.

Ecology expert Paul Whitby provided evidence on the wildlife corridor, the likely presence of a protected species of bat and evidence about the ‘marshy grassland’ habitat on Effingham Lodge Farm.

And Parish Cllr Keith Cornwell, a former governor at the Howard School, denied that there was an urgent need to rebuild the school, pointing to a government-commissioned survey that showed that most of the school buildings were in good condition.

But Berkely Homes director David Gilchrist believes the proposal has much to offer the village. He said: “In the event the secretary of state approves the appeal, Berkeley Homes and The Howard Partnership Trust look forward to working with the parish council and the local community to deliver a sympathetic and high-quality development.

“We believe the new school would provide a fantastic learning environment which nurtures and cares for children with all abilities with specialist support for those with autism.”

See also: Effingham Appeal Hearing Ends – Decision Likely to Take Months



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Responses to Allowing Appeal Would Have ‘Devastating Effect’ on Village – Claims Parish Councillor

  1. A Atkinson Reply

    June 5, 2017 at 10:19 pm

    Whether one agrees with the proposed development or not, what is obvious, is that this is phase one of at least one more phase of developement. There is a big grey area in the new school proposal left empty, blank. Clearly this is for a new, larger St Lawrence Primary School (some say doubling to 4 forms) to be located in the grey gap on the new Howard of Effingham site and further development of housing will be built on the existing site.

    Shame we cannot see this in the round, as a whole rather than as piecemeal planning application creep.

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