Fringe Box



Complaints of Underhand Tactics Made at Effingham Planning Hearing

Published on: 19 May, 2017
Updated on: 23 May, 2017

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

By Chris Dick

Feelings have been running high at the Effingham planning appeal which comes to the end of its first week today (May 19, 2017) over underhand activities alleged to have been carried against those wishing to see the planning application refused.

The hearing is considering a proposal, from Berkeley Homes, to build nearly 300 homes and rebuild a secondary school, all within the green belt.

Allegations of removed and damaged posters and suggestions of wildlife being deliberately disturbed by those in favour of the developments have surfaced and been lodged with the appeal inspector within days of the hearing starting.

Members of EFFRA putting up posters – later said to have been removed by a group of three unidentified males.

A complaint that Effingham Residents Association (EFFRA) campaign posters were unlawfully removed from private properties has been lodged with the appeal hearing inspector, David Morgan.

In an unexpected twist, a member of the Berkeley Homes team, David Gilchrist, is alleged to have disturbed lapwing birds at Effingham Lodge Farm, just hours before the planning inspector’s scheduled site visit.  Lapwings are a fully protected species under the Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981 and their presence could be a consideration in any planning decision.

A copy of the letter written to the planning inspector by Effingham Parish Council

Effingham Parish Council wrote to the appeal inspector on Thursday to register their concern about the Berkeley Homes team member appearing to scare the birds by loudly clapping his hands. When he was challenged by a ecology expert Paul Whitby,  to explain his actions the Berkeley Homes director is said to have replied, “Because they were attacking me.”

Three days earlier (Sunday, May 14), Mr Whitby said he had seen a pair of Lapwings (Vanellus vanellus) mobbing a fox on the marshy grassland at Effingham Lodge Farm. This suggested that the Lapwings were nesting in the area.

Lapwings are a protected species in the UK

Lapwings, also known as green plovers or peewits, are a “near threatened” species globally, and have a red conservation status in the UK. The species has seen a decline in its breeding population of 53% in the last 25 years.

The parents engage in active defence of their eggs and chicks by either flying at a potential predator or by enacting a distraction display, the latter often an attempt to lead the predator away from the nest’s location.

Nesting lapwings may also modify their behaviour if they are being watched by a human observer, for example by making ‘false nest visits’ to an area that is not the nest.

The hearing continues and will restart on Tuesday, May 23 at G Live when Effingham Parish Council witnesses will be heard and cross examined.

Share This Post

Responses to Complaints of Underhand Tactics Made at Effingham Planning Hearing

  1. Vivien White Reply

    May 19, 2017 at 5:56 pm

    Effingham Residents Association (EFFRA) is appealing for witnesses on its website who may have seen the removal of its posters against the planning appeal currently being heard.

    What is particularly disturbing about the incident is that the posters had been up for some weeks but were removed only shortly before the inspector was due in Effingham, the time of which was only decided the previous day at the inquiry. This seems to have been an organised offence, possibly working to a list, as posters put up the previous evening in new places were not touched.

    Many boards and poles to which the posters were attached, most of which were on private property, were broken or stolen. A group of three men, who are not believed to be local, were seen in the village acting suspiciously around the time of the incident which was in the hours before 10am on Wednesday morning (May 17).

    Effingham residents, are overwhelmingly against the proposed development, as shown in our 2014 survey in which 93% opposed the proposal and by their many letters of objection to the Borough Council. We believe it will be seriously damaging to the village and the green belt. We will be replacing the posters over the next few days.

    Vivien White is the chairman of EFFRA

  2. David King Reply

    May 20, 2017 at 9:02 am

    This is outrageous behaviour on a par with the alleged disturbance of lapwings on Effingham Lodge Farm.

    I always thought that we lived in a democratic, civilised society but it seems standards of yesteryear have gone by the board.

  3. Jeremy Palmer Reply

    May 20, 2017 at 5:18 pm

    The appellants are well aware what is riding on this, above and beyond this one project.

    If the appeal is allowed it will rip the green belt wide open because it will set a precedent for this kind of deal meeting the criteria of what’s allowable in the green belt.

    Not for nothing was it described as “riding a coach and horses through our green belt policy” at the GBC planning meeting at which it was originally refused. And that’s why it isn’t Nimbyism. Fundamentally this isn’t a local issue, it is a fight for the very integrity of the green belt.

Leave a Comment

Please see our comments policy. All comments are moderated and may take time to appear.

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *