Effingham’s MP Sir Paul Beresford and local county councillors have issued a statement about the proposal from Berkeley Homes to build an additional 110 homes on Effingham Lodge Farm. This follows the planning permission given at appeal in 2018 for 295 new homes in Effingham together with a new Howard of Effingham School to be built on the Lodge Farm site.
Cllr Ian Symes, Chairman of Effingham Parish Council, welcomes Sir Paul’s statement as an important contribution to the ongoing debate on the new proposals. The statement is as follows:
Residents will have seen in local news channels that Berkeley Homes are consulting locally on a proposal to build a further 110 homes on a green belt site on the northern part of Lodge Farm, Effingham. The site adjoins the area for which planning permission has already been granted for the construction of the new Howard of Effingham School with an enabling development of 295 homes spread across Lodge Farm, the existing school site on Lower Road and on Browns Field.
Berkeley Homes’ reason for wanting to build these additional homes is that the cost of delivering the new Howard of Effingham School has risen significantly. Accordingly, Berkeley have stated that the additional 110 homes on the remaining land at Lodge Farm are required to facilitate and fund the construction of the school.
We have read the information that Berkeley Homes have provided to residents, which is available on their website www.thenewhomeforthehoward.co.uk. we have attended their webinars presented by StoneyRock and taken the opportunity to discuss the proposals with representatives of the company. It is understood that after this period of public consultation, Berkeley Homes intends to submit a formal planning application during March 2021.
Taking all the available information into account, we do not agree with Berkeley Homes’ proposal to build the 110 additional homes on North Lodge Farm and will write to Guildford Borough Council requesting refusal of this application.
The original application was called in to a planning inquiry in 2018. As a result of the Inspector’s decision on the then application we had no choice but to accept the grant of permission for a new Howard of Effingham School to be built on the Lodge Farm site along with 295 enabling homes. At that time the applicant was able to demonstrate to the Inspector that in that case the requirement of Very Special Circumstances was met.
There were two key points taken into account at the time:
- Firstly, that GBC did not have a local plan with sufficient allocated dwelling numbers. This now no longer applies as GBC has a local plan with more than sufficient housing numbers. Even so it was recognized at that time that this development would fundamentally change the character and environment of Effingham as a small village and would test the fragile local infrastructure.
- Secondly, the need for new school replacing the current Howard buildings. We can appreciate the attraction of a new school, but it is planned for 2000 rather than the current 1600 students, at a time when there are additional places available for pupils in nearby secondary schools. We are not in a position to question the claimed increase in costs for building the new school but ask that this be questioned by GBC including the justification for the increase in pupil numbers.
We contend that the new proposal is even more inappropriate development in the green belt and the buffer zone area. Overall, it increases the number of dwelling houses in Effingham village by nearly 40%. We believe that the Very Special Circumstances that applied to the previous application do not apply and that these 110 additional homes would add further to the strain upon our roads and traffic, drains and other essential infrastructure.
We do not support this proposal and will be asking Berkeley Homes to reconsider their plan and if an unchanged application is submitted, we ask GBC to support the local community and our concerns by rejecting it.
Sir Paul Beresford, Member of Parliament for Mole Valley
Mrs Julie Iles OBE, County Councillor for Effingham & Horsleys
Mrs Clare Curran, County Councillor for Bookham & Fetcham West