The planning application by Millgate Homes for 17 homes on the Church Street field in Effingham (19/P/01726) was refused permission by Guildford Borough Council’s Planning Committee on Wednesday evening, 3rd February.

At the meeting, Effingham Parish Council (EPC) along with the Effingham Residents Association were able to defend key policies in the Neighbourhood Plan (NP), which was under challenge by Millgate Homes. The planning application was turned down by the planning committee and in doing so they endorsed the fact that the NP still has full weight when it comes to planning decisions, where there is no disparity with the policies of the more recently adopted Guildford Local Plan.

In this case EPC took advice from a planning barrister, Scott Stemp, and his advice was vital in being able to show that NP policies still have to be recognised and taken seriously, as planning policy, by the developer. His advice was that although the number of homes on the Church Street site is no longer capped at 9 because the site is no longer in the green belt, proposals for development of the site will still fall to be assessed against the other criteria of policy ENP-SA1 and other relevant Neighbourhood Plan and Guildford Borough planning policies, including those requiring preservation or enhancement of the Conservation Area.

Cllr Ian Symes, the Chairman of EPC, said:

“The Parish Council is doing everything we can to represent the interests of Effingham residents. We have taken advice on another planning matter to help understand planning law in the context of that proposal. In all planning cases we continue to use the Neighbourhood Plan and the Guildford Local Plan as evidence for any objections we might make. Effingham Parish Council is totally committed to using the Neighbourhood Plan to stop any unsuitable development in the parish.”

Cllr Liz Hogger is Effingham’s borough councillor as well as a parish councilor, and moved the motion to refuse the Church Street application at the planning committee meeting. Cllr Hogger said:

“I’m pleased the planning committee showed their support for the Effingham Neighbourhood Plan by refusing the Church Street application on the basis of site allocation policy ENP-SA1, as well as polices in the Guildford Local Plan.  Guildford officers did a good job by persuading Millgate Homes to amend the original plans to deliver some of the requirements of SA1, but the committee decided these amendments did not go far enough to overcome concerns about over-development, 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 need, including smaller market 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 referendum.

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.”