CONTROVERSIAL: The Howard of Effingham’s current site in Lower Road
Guildford Borough Council (GBC) closed its consultation on the joint venture proposed by the Howard of Effingham School and Berkeley Homes on Friday, after receiving more than 250 responses.
Officers admitted to those submitting e-mails and calls before the deadline that they were struggling to cope with the amount of representations received and that there would be a backlog.
So far, 280 have been uploaded to the council’s website, with 236 declaring their opposition to the plans, 31 issuing their support and three remaining neutral.
Posting on an online forum, Guildford borough and Effingham parish councillor Liz Hogger said: “From what I hear, GBC is overwhelmed with representations coming in as the deadline approaches.
“I will ask the officers to ensure all representations are taken into account, even if they are a little late because of these technical glitches.”
If it goes ahead, the proposal would involve the school’s buildings being demolished and the school itself relocated 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.
Adrian Munn is one of 236 people who wrote in opposition of the application. He wrote: “This project is not in the community’s interests and adds nothing to the local area other than significant traffic and over-development. I would urge the local community to stand firm and lodge their objections and a priority to stop this ridiculous plan from going ahead.”
Susan Venton was among those expressing support. She wrote: “I love the fact that my children will be able to attend a state-of-the-art school rather than the mismatch of teaching blocks which is the current situation.
“I also think the additional houses will bring a welcome boost to the local economy.”
The school’s executive head, Rhona Barnfield, said the joint venture with Berkeley Homes would bring the school “into the 21st century”.
She added: “Our planning application has been informed by the feedback we received from parents, neighbours and other local groups during our consultations. We hope 2015 will bring us a step closer to building a new home for the Howard.”