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Three sites for 295 homes and a new 2,000-pupil school at Effingham have been granted planning permission two years after the scheme was rejected by Guildford Borough Council. The school’s application to demolish its current site on Lower Road and rebuild on Effingham Lodge Farm was originally refused in March 2016. An appeal led to a public inquiry, held between May 16 and June 2 2017.

On Wednesday March 21, the Secretary of State announced the appeal had been successful. 258 of the residential dwellings are planned to be built on two sites where the school currently sits in Lower Road and 37 dwellings on one site at Brown’s Field, a 30% increase in the number of houses in the village, most of which will be outside the “settlement area” and within the Green Belt. The development will help fund a £30 million rebuild of the Howard of Effingham School. The replacement school and up to 258 new dwellings will be built on Green Belt land, destroying a wildlife corridor and resulting in urban sprawl by joining the villages of Effingham and Little Bookham.

Planning permission could only be granted if the appellants demonstrated that there were "very special circumstances", which outweighed the harm to the Green Belt and to the historic village of Effingham. In the Secretary of State’s decision document it is stated that “substantial weight” is given to the harm that could be done to the Green Belt however this is outweighed by the need for affordable and market housing in the area. The need for additional school places and a desire to ensure that school buildings “meet modern educational and social need” are also listed as important factors in the decision.

Only in February 2018, Effingham residents voted 93.5% in favour of their Neighbourhood Plan to provide around 50 homes to meet local need and protect the local environment and Green Belt. Local politicians who supported the opposition to the plan by residents have been left wondering if there is any point to the Localism Act and the concept of Neighbourhood Planning.

Thursday the 26th - Published by Normandy Action Group, 166 Glaziers Lane, Guildford GU3 2EB - with thanks to Keith Witham, Surrey County Councillor - Hostgator Coupon Template