Berkeley Homes Presentation 26 March

There will be a presentation by Berkeley Homes on Tuesday 26th March, 7:30pm in the KGV Hall, Browns Lane, Effingham.

This will include updates on the new school, residential at Effingham Lodge Farm and highway works.

All residents are welcome.

28 thoughts on “Berkeley Homes Presentation 26 March”

  1. So who took the trees down outside the school on Lower Road and for what reason? Was that Berkeley Homes or their contractors, and if so did they have permission to do so? Is any tree on public land safe in Effingham?

    This may have been discussed elsewhere on social media, but please can Effra post any information here as well, as not everyone uses FB etc. Thanks.

  2. According to Berkeley Homes last night they said they wouldnt be taking away any trees outside of the Effingham Lodge Farm boundary. Who is doing this then? Surely they all can’t be diseased. I agree with Jeremy it looks like trees on public ground are not safe! It is taking away a rural landscape and making an urban wasteland!

  3. I heard from a neighbour who attended the meeting that the trees were removed to widen the footpath. So my questions are:
    – why is the footpath being widened and who is it designed to primarily benefit?
    – why wasn’t the trees’ removal publicised beforehand? It may already have been decided but this kind of decision smacks of deliberately keeping local people out of the loop. If nothing else, EFFRA and EPC should have been told and they could have at least issued explanations for why this had to happen. If it was publicised, how was this done and is anyone monitoring how effective these communications are? If EPC and EFFRA weren’t told, are they demanding an answer as to why?
    – where is EPC’s Tree Warden? Why aren’t they alert to this and independently advising people why this is happening?

    The deal is that this is the very start of what are going to be profound, long-lasting and widespread changes to the village. People have a right to know what is going to happen and why it is going to happen. They may not like it but they’ll like it much less if they feel they are regarded as not worth keeping abreast of what is happening. So it’s not much use EPC / EFFRA meeting with Berkeley Homes irregularly if there is no information coming out of it to tell residents what to expect. Equally if the path widening was instigated by Surrey County Council then why are they not telling Julie Iles and the information being posted somewhere public?

    If this is what the next 10 years are going to be like, Effingham will be an atrocious place to live where the authorities will act with absolute impunity and disregard for local residents.

  4. The highway works for Lower Road were part of the legal agreement when Berkeley Homes (BH) were given planning permission by the Secretary of State. It was disappointing that BH didn’t bring the plans to the presentation.
    I will ask the Parish Council to bring their hard copy of the highways plans to the Annual Parish Meeting on 9 April (8 pm, KGV), and will try and get them up on the EPC website too.
    Having checked the plans today, they do indeed include widening that footway to 3 metres so it’s a shared pedestrian / cycle way. BH said at the presentation that the highways works on Lower Road would probably start in August this year, so I guess the trees were removed to facilitate that.
    We should press for replacement tree planting once those works are completed.

  5. I was unfortunately unable to attend the Berkeley Homes presentation but was contacted afterwards by a number of residents who were upset by the trees being removed on the grass verge and the lack of comment by Berkeley Homes. As a result I have contacted our Surrey County Councillor, Julie Iles, about this matter to confirm if the trees were removed as part of the highway works to widen the footpath and if so to ask Surrey County Council to ensure that replacement trees are replanted once the work is completed. I hope the Parish Council will make a similar request. As one resident said to me without the trees it looks like an urban landscape and not a village.

  6. In response to my question to Surrey County Council about the trees removed on the northern verge on Lower Road I have now heard from Surrey County Council that they were taken down without their prior knowledge by the developer. The matter is now with their Legal Services team which will be seeking compensation and EFFRA trusts the replacement of the trees.
    Residents can continue to raise any issues with EFFRA either using the contact form, by emailing info@effinghamresidents.org.uk or to me at chairman@effinghamresidents.org.uk and we will do our best to resolve them.

  7. Thank you for pursuing this Vivien. So it is SCC’s belief that Berkeley Homes were responsible for removing the trees? In which case why did David Gilchrist say at the public meeting in the KGV that Berkeley Homes had no plans to remove trees along Lower Road? Either he is not being kept informed as to what is going on, on the site, or his answer was deliberately inaccurate. Either way, Effingham deserves an apology from him and from Berkeley Homes for this needless piece of vandalism. It also calls into question just what level of sincerity Effingham can expect from Berkeley Homes in their published intentions for the development. Effingham is going to be their building site for the best part of a decade. Does their PR department really think that this level of arrogance is really in their interest right at the start of this project?

    If compensation is to be paid I expect it to come to the village not to SCC. If it hadn’t been raised with them SCC would have been oblivious to the wanton and unsanctioned damage the developers feel they can inflict with no comebacks.

  8. Julie Iles our Surrey County Councillor took this up as soon as I raised it with her. I think we all need to be vigilant as we don’t want the character of our village destroyed.

  9. Well done Vivien and Julie for pursuing this. I hope the County Council will follow up properly, and insist we get some good mature replacement trees planted when the highway works are done.

    From the Borough Council side, GBC’s tree officer is meeting Berkeley Homes on site later this month to discuss the provisional Tree Preservation Order on the belt of trees running south across the site from Thornet Wood. I have been invited to attend, and will take the opportunity to tell Berkeley Homes they should behave more responsibly and replace the trees on the Lower Road verges asap. Hopefully we can enforce this through a landscaping condition on any planning approval they may gain for the new school and housing .

    On the TPO, I am pressing for that to be confirmed so that those trees will be preserved. That way, if any trees there are in poor condition and need felling, BH would need to get planning permission and would need to replant so the tree belt is maintained.

  10. I need to correct the information previously given to Vivien – namely that the SCC legal team would be pursuing compensation. It now transpires from further enquiries that trees were removed as part of an agreed application signed off, as approved on appeal, by the Minister for Housing. As Liz has confirmed the highway works along Lower Road were part of the legal agreement when Berkeley Homes were given planning permission. The SCC arboriculture team have only recently seen drawings supplied by Berkley Homes Southern, which indicate that trees removed from the highway are to be replaced by many within the site of development, and hence compensating for any that were removed from Lower Road, Effingham.

    SCC were looking at calculating the tree values recently removed from the highway in response to our site visit which followed the report of trees being removed in line with our normal process.

    It is unlikely that an instruction will be issued to Berkley Homes indicating that they would be required to compensate SCC financially for the loss of trees on Lower Road. Wording to this effect is now being included in S278 agreements issued by SCC and developers. This is a fairly recent thing and it is doubtful that any such wording will have been included within a S278 agreement in respect of the Howard of Effingham Scheme.

    Having requested and received the drawings of the scheme, it is evident that sufficient provision for replacement trees has been agreed and that it would not be efficient use of Officer time if we were to pursue the matter any further in this instance.

    I can only apologise if communications to date have been misleading, as a consequence of information to hand at the time.

  11. Thank you Julie for confirming the true position.

    SCC have a tin ear for what the problem is here, if they think planting a few trees in the new SCHOOL or the new ESTATE is recompense for removing mature trees from a PUBLIC highway. The hacked down trees served a very real purpose in softening and obscuring the view across the fields, a view shortly to disappear and be replaced by a much worse vista. Don’t you or they understand this? These trees were part of our village, they were part of an established mental map of our environment. Removing them without notice says to residents that they have NO control over how their village is going to be changed, that they can wake up one morning and find loved local landmarks are simply gone. That’s the point here. It’s not financial. It’s about being part of the process of change not bystanders to it. Is there any person within SCC who would be willing to listen and understand this from Effingham residents or are they too cowardly and locked up in their Kingston ivory tower to risk venturing out into what used to be the countryside?

  12. This is unacceptable. Having taken a keen interest in this development I never heard anything beforehand about mature trees being removed. I rely on those in the know to look into the detail. What else are they going to be allowed to do under the planning consent? The developers know no action will be taken as the council cannot afford to challenge them legally. They have already uprooted all the hedges in nesting season when they could have done it over winter. They are also intending to connect the sewerage output from this huge development against local expert advice into the 15cm Water Lane pipe despite known problems with it blocking. We rely on councillors to watch our backs, not kow tow to the developer.

  13. Totally agree with you Jeremy. I wouldn’t be too bothered if there was to be no development on the site as the view across the fields is attractive. However, with hundreds of homes and a new school there is a crying need for a substantial amount of screening along Lower Road. Pity that central government think they have a god given right to override the wishes of local people

  14. BTW, is there any possibility of getting a judicial review of the decision to stick a large housing estate on this site?

    1. Roger, presume you weren’t in the area when this went through? Went to the Secretary of State who approved it. Endless local debate at the time but sadly some of the detail got missed in the fight for the bigger picture.

  15. Just picking up on these comments as I’m the councillor representing you at Surrey CC and I have been listening, I live in Effingham and I walk this route most Sunday mornings to get the paper so I’m not locked away in an ivory tower in Kingston. As already pointed out financial compensation to SCC would serve little purpose and yes, I understand that. Liz, your elected representative at Guildford BC (who are the planning authority here) has already said that she will be asking Berkeley Homes to replace the trees on the Lower Road verges asap and hopes to enforce this through a landscaping condition on any approval.

    1. The verges outside of school entrances including this one are Surrey Highways land, bought by the County for the primary purpose of protecting the safety of minors because is essential that children can been seen clearly from a distance by other pedestrians, cyclists and vehicle drivers.

      During a Highways safety audit, the vegetation on the verge opposite the Howard was found to obstruct visibility so a direction to remove was made. Unlike the verge opposite the Vineries, it had been planted with inappropriate tree species and bushes that caused maintenance issues, which must be avoided in future please.

      As councillor for the accountable body, we please have your confirmation that you will ensure that the Highways Safety and Safer Travel teams will approve this planting scheme to ensure that nothing is permitted on this piece of Surrey Highways land that could become an obstruction of the visibility splays from any of the pedestrian, cyclist and vehicular entrances of the school, nor of the crossing points over the roads, cycle paths and footpaths outside our children’s school? Thanks for your help.

  16. The Liaison Group with Berkeley Homes on which the Parish Council and EFFRA are represented was formed so that concerns can be raised and the village’s representatives will do this.
    BUT all residents will get the chance to comment on the Reserved Matters Application soon to be submitted by Berkeley Homes for the school and associated housing. They will not be able to object to the development itself as this was approved by the Secretary of State but they will be able to ask for trees on the verges to be replaced and landscaping of the site. The more residents comment on matters like this and the pressing infrastructure concerns – foul and surface water drainage, water supply, traffic etc the more likely appropriate conditions will be imposed.

    1. So as far as our responses to the Reserved Matters Application go, who listens to them? GBC or SCC? And how can we ensure that we are taken seriously and that this is not a box-ticking exercise? Is anyone from GBC or SCC prepared to come to Effingham and discuss our responses face-to-face with the residents? If our ideas are dismissed do we have a right of appeal, and if so to whom? GBC and SCC must acknowledge that the moment our Neighbourhood Plan was sabotaged by the Planning Inspector and Javid, the residents of Effingham could be forgiven for thinking there was little point in engaging with the authorities any further, since our opinions and perspectives don’t appear to be part of the picture, a viewpoint which is only strengthened when Berkeley Homes and SCC connive to do what they like to our village. I’m sure Liz, Julie and Vivien have the genuine best interests of Effingham at heart, but there are times when, a a resident, I want to directly interrogate the faceless officials who are carving up our village. Is that really such an impossible request?

        1. Yes this is so true what Jeremy is saying I remember the conservative saying that they would not build on green belt land and let local people have a voice. Well that’s not happening still we can all vote in 2 weeks at the local elections.

  17. Thanks to Julie for the clarification. Yes, I confirm that I will be raising this with the Borough Council’s Planning Officer responsible for trees, and with Berkeley Homes, at a meeting next week. I quite agree that planting trees on the site itself is not enough and we need trees back on the verge as soon as the highways works are done.

    Berkeley Homes permission from the appeal decision is ‘outline’ permission only, and the ‘reserved matters’ planning applications for the new school and the housing on Effingham Lodge Farm will cover design, layout, landscaping etc. So I hope it will be possible to get a landscaping condition attached to any approval of those applications which includes trees on the verge.

    In answer to Roger Adams’ question about a judicial review, both the borough council’s QC and the parish council’s planning barrister did look very carefully at the Planning Inspector’s report and the Secretary of State’s decision, and with regret could find no loopholes by which to challenge it.

    1. The verges outside of school entrances including this one are Surrey Highways land, bought by the County for the primary purpose of protecting the safety of minors because is essential that children can been seen clearly from a distance by other pedestrians, cyclists and vehicle drivers.

      During a Highways safety audit, the vegetation on the verge opposite the Howard was found to obstruct visibility so a direction to remove was made. Unlike the verge opposite the Vineries, it had been planted with inappropriate tree species and bushes that caused maintenance issues, which must be avoided in future please.

      As councillor for the planning authority, we please have your confirmation that you will ensure that Borough officers secure a legal commitment that the planting scheme on this piece of Surrey Highway land will be subject to Surrey CC’s safety teams’ prior approval such that it will never include any vegetation that could become an obstruction to the visibility splays for any of the pedestrian, cyclist and vehicular entrances of the school, nor to the crossing points over the roads, cycle paths and footpaths outside our children’s school? Thanks for your help.

  18. Jeremy, whilst I do not disagree with much of what you say can I just point out that if residents do not respond in large numbers to the Reserved Matters Planning Application by Berkeley Homes and raise their concerns then they will definitely not be addressed as Guildford will not be able to take account of them. Guildford Borough Council did turn down this application but were over ruled and I do think they will listen to residents’ concerns and try to address them. However, it would be helpful as you say if a Guildford official would come and talk to the village about the process.

  19. Jeremy, ‘the faceless officials who are carving up our village’ are in the Planning Inspectorate and Government, not the local councils. GBC’s planning committee did refuse the BH/HoE application almost unanimously, and GBC instructed a QC to fight it at the Public Inquiry, so don’t be too hard on them! This really needs tackling at parliamentary level, as it’s government policy that drives the Planning Inspectorate to over-rule local democracy.

    In my experience, GBC planning officers do take serious account of local responses to planning applications. For example, you might want to look at the officer report recommending refusal of the Millgate Homes application for the Church Street field, which goes to planning committee next week: http://www2.guildford.gov.uk/councilmeetings/ieListDocuments.aspx?CId=130&MId=787&Ver=4

    1. Berkley Homes ruthlessly chopped down these trees which would by now be in beautiful full blossom. They had been there for all the 47 years that I too have been here. Reading comments relating to the inappropriateness of such planting, all those years ago, and probably long before there ever was a school because it might affect one’s ability to notice the school children is curious. Particularly so when you try to negotiate the Lower Road outside the Howard with all the sixth form cars precariously parked reducing the passing width. Now that really is a problem for the Highways Dept and one that I understand recently had tragic consequences.

      Let’s face it, cutting those trees down was an outrageous decision with huge disrespect to the community, if in fact anybody actually did make that decision – we know that Berkley Homes did the deed and we also know that there will almost certainly be no consequences but lots of buck passing.
      R. Perks

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