Dear Friends of Effingham Common
Proposed car-park on Effingham Common
You may be aware of this already, but we are writing to give you an update about an issue which is currently threatening the Common. We are hoping all the Friends will take a very active interest in this matter, and be ready to give your support when Guildford Borough Council’s ‘informal consultation’ starts in the not-too-distant future. The more voices we can say are opposed to the plans, the more likely we are to fend off this threat, so when we next contact you with the detailed information, would you please respond with your objection or otherwise.
The situation is that Berkeley Homes has put in a planning application to Guildford Borough Council to relocate and rebuild the Howard of Effingham School. To fund this there will have to be a big programme of house-building on several sites in central Effingham (none of these are on the Common). This planning application has only just been submitted and no-one has even received the actual details yet – it certainly has not been approved.
There are many arguments for and against these plans but from our position as The Friends of Effingham Common we do not need to comment one way or the other, and we will not be doing that. Our only concern is that they could have a serious side-effect for the Common.
This is because the submission of the planning application has put Guildford Borough Council in a sticky position. It has to try to resolve a problem created in 2006, that it has not yet managed to sort out. This is the
provision of Suitable Alternative Natural Green Space (SANG) which people will want to visit for dog-walking in preference to the wildlife Special Protection Areas at Ockham and Wisley Common. GBC cannot determine the Berkeley Homes project one way or the other until it can show that there is enough SANG of the right sort to absorb the impact of all the new population without people going to Ockham or Wisley. But the SANG needed for the Berkeley Homes project has to have facilities for the public – it cannot just be open ground. GBC wants to upgrade Effingham Common to be this SANG. To do so, it wants to build a car park for 12 spaces on the Common. This would be accessed from Effingham Common Road via the gate opposite Slater’s Oak. It would be sited in the corner area between the main road and the private road which runs down to the Cricket Pavilion and Hooke Farm.
Planning Officers from GBC asked to speak to the Effingham Parish Council meeting on Tuesday 30 September to put this idea forward and to gauge initial feeling. They were met with a barrage of objections from the audience of about 50 people and the council – not one single person spoke in favour, of even a smaller carpark.
We do not yet know what ‘informal consultation’ means or when it will actually start. However as we said at the beginning of this letter we are just writing now so you can be on the lookout for a further message from us, when it will be time to act. There might be a degree of urgency to get our response together. At that time we will list out for you
all the objections we have to the proposal of the carpark, ie the aspects which will actually harm the ecology, appearance and purpose of the Common.
If you would like any further information in the mean time, please do not hesitate to get in touch.