On 30th March, Guildford’s planning committee refused the planning application for 110 additional ‘enabling’ homes to be built on green belt land at Effingham Lodge Farm, together with 4 self-build dwellings at 408-410 Lower Road (application 21/P/01306). Berkeley Homes had argued that more homes were needed because the original scheme allowed at appeal, for 295 enabling homes to pay for a new build expanded Howard of Effingham School, was no longer financially viable.

Effingham Parish Council had objected strongly to the application, arguing that there was insufficient evidence of the change in viability, and the harm to the green belt and village could not be justified. Parish councillor Bronwen Roscoe addressed the planning committee meeting, alongside representatives from Effingham Residents Association, and the proposal to refuse was moved by borough councillor Liz Hogger and agreed by 8 votes to 4.

There were two main reasons for refusal, based on policies from the Guildford Local Plan and the Effingham Neighbourhood Plan:

  1. The proposal represents inappropriate development within the Green Belt which is harmful by definition. In addition, due to the quantum of development and its location, the proposal would result in a harmful loss of openness to the Green Belt and would result in further encroachment into the countryside, thereby conflicting with the purposes of including land within the Green Belt. The case for very special circumstances has been considered, however, the benefits of this proposal are not considered to clearly outweigh the inherent harm to the green belt (and any other harm).
  2. Taking into account the rural character of the surroundings, the proposal would represent an overly urban form of development which would result in harm to the character and appearance of the area, including the prominent views of the development from Effingham Common Road.

Parish Council Vice-Chairman Arnold Pindar commented:

“Parish councillors are very pleased that Guildford’s planning committee made the right decision to protect our green belt. However, Berkeley Homes have notified their intention to submit an appeal, and Effingham Parish Council will be robustly defending the refusal at the public inquiry.

This intention to appeal is disappointing as we would have welcomed an opportunity to discuss with Berkeley Homes and the Howard Partnership Trust how to achieve an improved school for the Howard without unacceptable further development harming our village.”

Full details of the planning decision can be found here.