Current major planning applications include:
Berkeley Homes – Redevelopment of Howard of Effingham School and New Housing
PLANNING APPEAL BY PUBLIC INQUIRY
APPEAL DECISION 28 November 2022
The Planning Inspector decided on 28th November 2022 to ALLOW the main appeal for an additional 114 homes in green belt at Lodge Farm (Appeal A), and to DISMISS the appeal on the reserved matters application (Appeal B). The Inspector’s decision and report is available from the link below:
Effingham Parish Council, after contributing a lot of hard work by volunteers into contesting the Berkeley Homes development, is astonished by this decision of the Planning Inspector, and believes that it is flawed. The Parish Council launched a campaign on 15th December for a Judicial Review to challenge the appeal decision, as described in the press release:
The Parish Council reluctantly decided at the Extraordinary Meeting on 6th January 2023 not to proceed with a challenge via the courts, having taken legal advice from two separate barristers. It was the opinion of both barristers that a challenge would have little chance of success, and carried the risk of excessive costs.
Berkeley Homes applications for an additional 114 homes on green belt at Lodge Farm
The Berkeley Homes planning application for 114 additional homes on Effingham Lodge Farm (application 21/P/01306) was refused by Guildford Borough Council’s Planning Committee on 30 March 2022. The decision notice can be found here. The associated application 21/P/01283, to remove two pieces of land from the scheme allowed at appeal, was approved at the same planning committee meeting.
Berkeley Homes appealed against the refusal to the Planning Inspectorate (‘Hybrid’ application, appeal reference APP/Y3615/W/22/3298341). Berkeley Homes also appealed against the refusal on heritage grounds of application 21/P/0428, the reserved matters application for 99 homes on the existing site of the Howard of Effingham School (‘RMA’ application, appeal reference APP/Y3615/W/22/3298390). The decision notice for that refusal is here. The two appeals were dealt with together at the same public inquiry, which lasted three weeks, and finished on Friday 7th October 2022.
Effingham Parish Council was a ‘rule 6’ party at the inquiry, giving us the right to present our formal case, have witnesses, and cross-examine the Berkeley Homes witnesses. We were pleased to have the services of experienced barrister Scott Stemp, of No5 Chambers, to advise and act as our advocate at the inquiry.
The all-important Closing Submissions from the three barristers for the parties to the inquiry are given below.
The Parish Council’s Statements of Case, together with Proofs of Evidence from our four witnesses can be viewed and down-loaded from the links below. Other appeal documents including the Statements of Case from Berkeley Homes and Guildford Borough Council can be found on the GBC Planning Portal under application numbers 21/P/01306 and 21/P/0428.
APP 5.1 ‘Howard of Effingham Development: Applicants Berkeley Homes, Draft Viability Report’, Andrew Golland Associates, January 2015
APP 5.2 ‘Briefing Note’, Andrew Golland Associates, October 2016
APP 5.3 ‘Proof of Evidence: proposed school, design assessment,’ Michael Olliff, Scott Browrigg, 13 April 2017
APP 5.4 ‘Feasibility proposal for the Howard of Effingham School’, letter and cost estimate from Willmott Dixon Construction Ltd to Berkeley Homes (Southern) Ltd, 7 March 2019
APP 5.5 ‘Construction Costs & House Prices Indices’, June 2022, note based on ‘Office of National Statistics indices’
APP 5.6 ‘A new home for The Howard: Frequently Asked Questions’, February 2021
APP 6.1 ‘School Organisation Plan 2020 – 2030’, Surrey County Council
APP 6.2 School Organisation Plans: 2011-2021, 2012-2022, 2014-2024, 2015-2025, and 2018 – 2027’, Surrey County Council
APP 6.3 The expansion of PAN in the planning area
APP 6.4 Supply and demand in the planning area
APP 6.5 FoI received from SCC
APP 6.6 ONS National Pupil Projections, 14 July 2022
APP 6.7 ‘Policy statement – planning for schools development’, Department for Communities and Local Government, August 2011
APP 7.1 ‘New from old: Transforming Secondary schools through refurbishment’, Steven Pidwill, Commission for Architecture and the Built Environment (CABE), 2009
APP 8.1 Inspector’s report on appeal APP/Y3615/W/21/3276229, Land at Church Street, Effingham, 20 December 2021
APP 9.1 ‘Surrey Landscape Character Assessment – Guildford Borough’, Surrey County Council, April 2015
Parish Council objections to planning applications
Effingham Parish Council had submitted a formal objection to applications 21/P/01306 and 21/P/01283, as detailed below.
At their meeting on 27th July 2021, the Parish Council heard evidence from parish councillors on a working group set up to examine two planning applications from Berkeley Homes: for 114 additional homes (reference 21/P/01306) and for a change to the original permission granted at appeal in 2018 (reference 21/P/01283).
Chair of Effingham Parish Council, Ian Symes, thanked the working group for their considerable effort in researching the applications and said: “Tonight, Effingham Parish Council has considered a wide-ranging and in-depth review of all the evidence impacting the applications from Berkeley Homes. We have made a reasoned and well- informed decision and will be strongly objecting to these plans on behalf of our residents.”
The objection submitted to Guildford Borough Council can be found here:
A press release about the decision can be found here.
Permission given at appeal, and reserved matters applications
Detailed planning permission (Reserved matters) has now been given for the Howard of Effingham School to be rebuilt along with 159 new homes on Effingham Lodge Farm, in line with the outline permission given at appeal in March 2018.
Full details of the original planning application and appeal documents can be found on the Guildford Borough Council website. The permission given at appeal and the associated Section 106 legal agreement are available for download here:
Details of the approved ‘reserved matters’ plans can be found on Guildford Borough Council’s website:
At their request, Berkeley Homes met with Effingham representatives on 16 August 2019 to update us on the proposal. They informed us that they are considering a further planning application for additional homes on Effingham Lodge Farm, to help fill the funding gap which has arisen due to uncertainties in the housing market and the rising cost of school construction. The Effingham side of the Liaison Group met on 19 August to discuss the new proposals, and notes of this meeting can be found below.
To date, no definitive proposals for these extra homes have been put forward. However the detailed planning permission for the new school building shows a smaller curtilage than the outline permission, omitting two pieces of land where new homes might be proposed in the future. This land remains in the green belt, and any proposal for development of this land would need to demonstrate very special circumstances before planning permission could be given.
EFFINGHAM LIAISON GROUP
Following the planning permission given to the development on appeal, the Effingham Liaison Group was set up to discuss the final plans with Berkeley Homes, with the aim of getting the best outcome for Effingham from the development. The Group is made up of parish councillors and members of the Effingham Residents Association committee, and is coordinated by borough councillor Liz Hogger. Notes of the meetings of the Liaison Group are available below:
THE PLANNING PROCESS
The Planning Refusal
The planning application (14/P/02109) from Berkeley Homes to rebuild the Howard of Effingham School on Effingham Lodge Farm, paid for by enabling development of 295 new homes, was refused at Guildford Borough Council’s Planning Committee meeting on 9 March 2016. Reasons for refusal included:
- Inappropriate development in the Green Belt, with an insufficent case for very special circumstances, and effectively merging Effingham with Little Bookham
- Damage to the rural character of Effingham village, to the Conservation Area and to the setting of Listed buildings
- No provision of affordable housing
- Possibility of a severe impact on local highways
You can access the Parish Council’s research data presented at the 9 Dec meeting here. The Parish Council’s objection to the planning application can be viewed here and the relevant appendices can be viewed here.
The Planning Appeal
Berkeley Homes and The Howard Partnership Trust appealed against the refusal of planning permission, and a Public Inquiry before a Planning Inspector Mr David Morgan was held from 16 May – 2 June 2017 (Planning Inspectorate reference APP/Y3615/W/16/3151098). Effingham Parish Council was granted ‘Rule 6(6)’ status at the Inquiry, meaning they were a full party to the Inquiry, supporting the Borough Council’s refusal of the application.
The Parish Council’s Statement of Case submitted to the Planning Inspectorate prior to the Inquiry can be viewed or downloaded using the links below:
The Public Inquiry 16 May – 2 June 2017
Four parish councillors and two expert witnessses gave evidence at the Inquiry on behalf of the Parish Council, and barrister Mr Scott Stemp advised on the evidence and acted as advocate. Parish Council key documents from the Inquiry can be viewed or downloaded using the links below:
- Highways Proof of Evidence by parish councillor Cliff Hackett
- Education Proof of Evidence by parish councillor Paula Moss
- School Builidngs Proof of Evidence by parish councillor Keith Cornwell
- Planning Policy Proof of Evidence by parish councillor Liz Hogger
- Heritage Proof of Evidence by expert witness Peter Bell of Asset Heritage Consulting
- Ecology Proof of Evidence by expert witness Paul Whitby of The Ecology Co-op
- Closing Submission by barrister Scott Stemp of No 5 Barristers Chambers
- Press release following close of Inquiry
Further documents from Guildford Borough Council and the Appellants can be found on the Borough Council website: Berkeley Home – HoE application.
The Appeal was allowed by the Secretary of State on 21 March 2018.
Effingham Parish Council reluctantly decided they were unable to challenge the Appeal decision, since the Council’s barrister Scott Stemp advised there was no realistic basis for a challenge in the High Court, and the risk of costs being awarded against the Council would be very high. A summary of the advice is available here.
The Parish Council’s former Chairman Arnold Pindar said “This is a devastating result for the village. The Parish Council and many local residents are deeply angry and upset, but sadly we cannot risk local tax-payers’ money in a legal challenge when we have clear advice that there are insufficient grounds.” See the Council’s press release here.
Preliminary Comments and HoE Liaison Group
The Parish Council chaired a Liaison Group to discuss issues and proposals regarding the proposed joint venture between Berkeley Homes and the Howard of Effingham School, before the planning application was submitted by Berkeley Homes to Guildford Borough Council. These discussions were Without Prejudice, meaning that all discussions which took place were separate from any Parish Council assessment of future planning applications and would have no impact on the decision of the Parish Council regarding an application. Representatives from GBC Planning Department attended all meetings and all minutes of those meetings are publicly available.
Please click here to view preliminary comments which were sent by the Parish Council to Guildford Borough Council, Without Prejudice, on housing provision, design requirements and Section 106 contributions.