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Letter: Let Us Build More Green Belt Homes Or No School, Says Berkeley

Published on: 1 Mar, 2021
Updated on: 1 Mar, 2021

Say No to Berkeley Homes campaign poster

From: Heléna Lawrence

Founder of Say No To Berkeley Homes Campaign
Berkeley Homes have permission to build 295 houses and a new school for The Howard in Effingham. The original planning application was refused by Guildford Borough Council but allowed after appeal to the Secretary of State.

But Berkeley now claims the school build, including many requirements set out by Rhona Barnfield, the CEO of The Howard Partnership Trust, would cause them a financial deficit.

So they want to add 110 more homes on réecently acquired green belt “to make it financially viable”, bringing the total of new houses in Effingham village to more than 400, as well as the school.

Much like most families, but for me as a single parent, lockdown and the pandemic have been exhausting enough, along with home-schooling and everyday life challenges.

But the shock of hearing Berkeley wanted to add a further 110 homes to their approved 295 and the school, ignited a pure passion to fight this greedy overcrowding. Their bald statement that “…if the extra 110 homes are not approved, there will be no new school built”, I found distasteful. So did others.

This is a vitally important case to fight for the whole community. I have created a Facebook page, Twitter account, website, email address and composed a leaflet, now being distributed to 5,000 homes in the area, as well as a petition which has swiftly drawn more than 1,100 signatures.

The creation of all platforms took less than 24 hours and they have grown exponentially. This has rallied the community, successfully raising the communal spirit and confidence in objecting to the Berkeley proposal.

This is no case of “not in my back yard” but simply a fight objecting to this preposterous proposed planning permission sought by Berkeley Homes with no consideration for Effingham and surrounding villages, including Bookham and Horsley.

The infrastructure alone is unable to accommodate this number of further homes. Their “masterplan” would stand at 405 homes and a school for 2,000 pupils in a small village with a total population of just 2,700.

During this dreadful pandemic, we have come to realise open spaces are very much needed for our physical and mental health. We cannot afford to lose even more green space to buildings, destroying even more wildlife.

This proposal would also add pressure on local amenities already overwhelmed and under stress from the past year. We intend to raise a full range of objections with Guildford Borough Council when the time comes.

I am an ordinary resident of Bookham, without affiliation to any official body, but I have helped give an angry voice to a crucial cause, a protest voice now so loud it must be heard and listened to for the ultimate wellbeing of our community.

If you have any questions or want to join the mailing list please email nomorehomes@outlook.com or search for Effingham on Change.Org to sign the petition or search Say No to Berkeley Homes on Facebook.

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test 8 Responses to Letter: Let Us Build More Green Belt Homes Or No School, Says Berkeley

  1. David J King Reply

    March 1, 2021 at 6:10 pm

    Bravo, Helena. You are doing a splendid job. I anticipate that Effingham Parish Council and the Residents Association will also lodge very strong objections.

    It should be added that the soil on Effingham Lodge Farm is high-quality arable farming soil.

  2. Jules Cranwell Reply

    March 1, 2021 at 6:41 pm

    Bravo Heléna,

    You are a star!

  3. Harry Eve Reply

    March 1, 2021 at 8:50 pm

    Well done Helena. I look forward to seeing how our local authorities deal with this one.

  4. Stuart Barnes Reply

    March 2, 2021 at 8:47 am

    The whole scheme is outrageous and to want to concrete over more of our precious green spaces make it even worse.

    Surely if the brazen developers want to change the conditions then the whole scheme could be reconsidered and stopped?

  5. Karen Lowe Reply

    March 2, 2021 at 7:01 pm

    The school is needed. It is not fit for purpose, not for the 20th Century let alone the 21st Century.

    As the current pandemic is mentioned let’s discuss the fact that social distancing in the school is impossible.

    Perhaps if the council had approved the application at the first time of proposal rather than it going down the long drawn out and expensive road of appeals the developers would not need these extra houses. The school and houses would already be built at previous year prices and the pandemic would not have affected progress.

    My son was in year 4 of primary when it was first proposed, now he is year 11 at The Howard. The children at the school have missed out and future children will too.

  6. Ben Paton Reply

    March 3, 2021 at 12:08 pm

    Planning seems to operate outside normal legal and economic rules.

    If someone advertises their car for sale and then accepts your offer to buy it for £300, most people would be a bit miffed if the seller then said he would not deliver the car unless you came up with an extra £100. A lawyer would call that repudiatory breach of contract. The whole deal would be off.

    But if a developer tries on this sort of demand how does government respond?

    In the past, GBC has fallen over backwards to accommodate the developer. Need to remove some environmental designation? No problem, we’ll fix it. Want to build on the ‘permanent’ Green Belt? No problem, we’ll take your land out of the green belt in the next Local Plan. Need to protect your profit margins? No problem we’ll let you off some commitments. Need to show that your project is ‘sustainable’? No problem, we’ll approve some cycle paths and fudge the issue.

  7. David Roberts Reply

    March 3, 2021 at 3:23 pm

    If a new school is really needed it should be properly funded from public taxation or charitable giving. Relying on highly leveraged financial engineering by questionable developers is a pact with the devil. 400 new houses will only add to the pressure on school places, leaving the school back where it started.

    According to the ONS, Guildford borough’s population in 2040 is projected to no higher than in 2019. So why not stick to meeting existing local demand for school places, rather than on grandiose schemes to suck in ever more students from far and wide?

  8. Caroline Mahoney Reply

    March 25, 2021 at 11:41 pm

    How far and wide will the building on green belt land by Berkeley Homes go? Is there no limitation period or restriction on the number of further applications or amendments that can be made on the back of a single successful planning appeal? What is to stop them from making a further application in due course to build more houses elsewhere when they want more money?

    Corporate funding of state responsibilities is a poor precedent to set. The objective is maximising profit and nothing more.

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