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Plan for 17 Homes on Sensitive Site in Effingham Rejected

Published on: 5 Feb, 2021
Updated on: 6 Feb, 2021

The former school playing field (centre of image) off Church Street Effingham, up for development

By Chris Dick

Guildford councillors have rejected an application for 17 more dwellings in Effingham despite a planning officer’s recommendation for approval.

The homes were planned for a former school playing field which had been designated green belt until Guildford’s Local Plan was adopted in April 2019.

Over 15 years ago, the field next to St Lawrence primary school was bought from a farmer by a group of parents of Effingham children for, it is believed, £130,000.

Before, the children had to cross a road to access their playing field off Church Street, so ownership of the two fields was swapped.

But with removal of green belt protection, the Church Street field has development potential and its value has multiplied, dependant on the number of units given permission to build.

Webcam photo of online borough planning meeting of February 3, with Cllr Liz Hogger (lower right)

Millgate Homes argued that a limit of up to nine dwellings set in Effingham’s Neighbourhood Plan was not valid because the site was no longer in the green belt.

Cllr Ruth Brothwell

But Cllr Ruth Brothwell (R4GV, Worplesdon) pointed out the close proximity of a burial ground and said noise from children playing in gardens of the proposed new homes could upset mourners.

Cllr Liz Hogger (Lib Dem, Effingham) agreed the Effingham Neighbourhood Plan limit on the number of dwellings had been superseded by the Local Plan.

But she said other policies in the Effingham plan had to be taken into account and the proposal would allow “overdevelopment” and did not meet all the criteria in the National Planning Policy Framework.

Barrister Scott Stemp’s legal view was that Guildford’s Local Plan did take precedence but not enough weight had been given in the planning application to the policies in Effingham’s Neighbourhood Plan.

The application was refused with eight votes against and four in favour.

Cllr Liz Hogger

Later, Cllr Hogger said: “I’m pleased Guildford’s Planning Committee showed their support for the Effingham plan by refusing the Church Street application on the basis of site allocation policy, as well as policies in the Local Plan.

“Guildford council officers did a good job by persuading Millgate Homes to amend the original plans to deliver some requirements of the policy, but the committee decided these amendments did not go far enough to overcome concerns about overdevelopment, harm to the conservation area, and too few smaller homes.

“The aim of the site allocation policies in the Effingham Neighbourhood Plan is to provide the right number and type of new homes to meet local needs, including smaller homes for down-sizing and for young people starting out on the housing ladder.

“These housing allocations had overwhelming support from Effingham residents during the formal consultation and at our referendum on the Neighbourhood plan.

“I hope the applicants for the Church Street site will reconsider and come back with plans that respect the need for a smaller-scale development on this very sensitive site in the heart of Effingham’s conservation area.”

See also: Comment: Effingham Doublespeak – Its Ignored Plan Is Really Respected

 

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test One Response to Plan for 17 Homes on Sensitive Site in Effingham Rejected

  1. David Roberts Reply

    February 5, 2021 at 6:41 pm

    An embarrassing defeat for Guildford’s planning department which so often in the past has been accused of pro-developer bias.

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