Fringe Box



Plan To Rebuild School In Effingham To Enable Building Of 295 Homes Is Turned Down

Published on: 16 Mar, 2016
Updated on: 17 Mar, 2016

A planning application from Berkeley Homes to rebuild Howard of Effingham School on green belt land, paid for by enabling development of 295 homes also on green belt land, has been refused by Guildford Borough Council’s planning committee.

planning permission 200The application proposed a 25% expansion of the school from 1,600 to 2,000 pupils in a three-storey building to be built on the eastern part of Effingham Lodge Farm.

Campaigners against the scheme said “the 295 homes would be an increase of well over 30% in the number of households in the village”.

Representatives of Effingham Parish Council and Effingham Residents’ Association addressed the planning committee at the start of the debate on March 9.

Paula Moss, an Effingham Parish councillor and chairman of the Effingham Neighbourhood Plan Advisory Group, said: “A new expanded school is simply not supported by the community. This proposal will double the built-up area of our village, heavily urbanise the historic open space and create traffic congestion at an unsustainable level all along Lower Road.

“But Effingham is not a NIMBY community and has embraced developments benefiting schools and affordable housing on a number of previous occasions. As the first village in Guildford borough to embrace the Neighbourhood Plan process, we have a sustainable plan which meets local needs. If you say yes tonight these plans will be totally undermined.”

Keith Cornwell, a former chairman of governors at the Howard School, said: “One of the biggest arguments against this application is the success of the school to date with the current facilities. The village and community can only lose. Berkeley Homes can only win.”

Moving refusal at the planning committee meeting, Effingham’s borough councillor Liz Hogger said there were no very special circumstances of urgent need to justify the destruction of so much green belt land. The school manages to be ‘outstanding’ within its current buildings, and it already takes all first preference pupils from its catchment area and feeder schools, plus a few more.

Cllr Hogger pointed out that most of the new homes would be high-price larger homes rather than the two-bedroom and one-bedroom homes needed for young families and older people wanting to downsize. There was no guarantee of any housing association homes for rent or shared-ownership.

Proposing an additional reason for refusal based on concerns about traffic congestion, Cllr Hogger said: “Effingham can barely cope with the congestion from school traffic already. Although the application offers some extra car-parking, it is highly doubtful that it would be enough for a 25% larger school, with more staff and visitors as well as more sixth-formers. Then add in the traffic from all the 295 new homes feeding on to the narrow lanes and roads through the heart of the village. The result would be a traffic nightmare.”

Cllr Liz Hogger moved refusal for the 10 reasons recommended by planning officers, with the additional reason based on traffic and parking concerns. Borough Council Leader Cllr Paul Spooner seconded the motion, and refusal was agreed almost unanimously, with just one abstention.

Speaking after the meeting, Cllr Hogger said: “The Howard of Effingham School has been part of our village for over 75 years, and Effingham residents want to be able to support the School.

“I suspect that an application to improve the school facilities on an appropriate site, with some extra houses of a quantity and type to meet the needs of our community, would be welcome to most local people. Unfortunately that wasn’t on offer. This proposal would have destroyed important areas of green belt and swamped the historic part of the rural village with an urban sprawl of housing.”

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