From Dorking Advertiser, posted February 13, 2015
Authored By Alexander Robertson
Lib Dem candidate claims residents being ‘blackmailed’ over Effingham school scheme
VILLAGERS in Effingham are being “blackmailed” into supporting plans to build 295 homes on green-belt land in exchange for better teaching facilities, a Mole Valley parliamentary candidate has claimed.
Paul Kennedy, who will stand for the Liberal Democrats at this May’s General Election, has criticised the proposed expansion of the Howard of Effingham School.
Housing developer Berkeley hopes to demolish the school’s existing facility and relocate it to Effingham Lodge Farm, an 80-acre green-belt site on the opposite side of Lower Road.
The proposal would be funded by the development of 295 homes split between the two sites and the three-acre Browns Field, while increasing the student capacity from 1,600 to 2,000.
Mr Kennedy, who lives in neighbouring Bookham, said: “I come from a teaching family so I naturally want to help.
“But any expansion should be funded by Surrey County Council (SCC) or the Government, not via a housing development deal.
“It is outrageous that a school is being used to ‘blackmail’ our local community into supporting overdevelopment and destruction of the green belt and Effingham village as we know it.”
This week, the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE) joined Effingham Parish Council and Effingham Residents’ Association in opposing the plans.
In a letter outlining the group’s objection, Mole Valley CPRE committee member Kristina Kenworthy called the proposed new school an unnecessary “leviathan”.
“There is no evidence that a further 400 places are required, or that this is a strategic or suitable location for a super-sized school,” she said.
“There is no need for what would be the largest school in Surrey to be built in this particular location with the resulting loss of 70 acres of land, including Grade Three farmland, to inappropriate development.
“We urge the decision-makers to look at the overall long-term effects on planning control in Surrey, as well as the very real and negative effects on Effingham.”
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