The wording and contents of the following letters are for guidance only. Any letter to Guildford Borough Council should be drafted in your own words so far as possible
Your response must reach the Council by 16th Jan 2015
HoE and field- Soon to be a building site?
Mr. J. Busher,
Senior Planning Officer,
Guildford Borough Council,
(or email: John.Busher@guildford.gov.uk)
Dear Mr. Busher,
Re. Planning application 14/P/02109; Howard of Effingham School and Lodge Farm, Lower Road, and Browns Field, Browns Lane, Effingham
I am writing as an Effingham resident to object strongly to planning application 14/P/02109.
This planning application would add 295 new houses and a new larger school on Green Belt land to our small rural village of 1000 homes, increasing it by nearly a third and in a part of the village that already suffers from severe traffic congestion and flooding problems. The development would destroy the character of the village and make the traffic and flooding problems much more severe. These infrastructure problems are not solvable as the proposed development area is adjacent to the protected Conservation Areas of both Effingham and Little Bookham villages with historically constrained road systems and limited footpaths for pedestrians.
As the proposed development is on Green Belt land I believe that the application has to prove very special circumstances in order to be approved. Effingham Lodge Farm is a vital piece of Green Belt land as it more than meets the four main purposes. It forms part of the first break in urban sprawl from the south-west of London and is an important wildlife corridor between the Surrey Hills and Effingham and Bookham Commons. It forms a green boundary between Effingham (Guildford) and Little Bookham (Mole Valley) and is important in preventing the still rural village of Effingham join the larger conurbation of Great and Little Bookham. It safeguards the countryside from encroachment to the north of the village and provides an important green rural setting for the Effingham and Little Bookham Conservation Areas. Browns Field is equally important in maintaining the setting of this historic village.
I understand that Berkeley Homes is claiming that Effingham Lodge Farm is brownfield land and that the structures on it are permanent. Effingham Lodge Farm covers 50 acres of good agricultural land with some buildings previously used for horticulture on a small part at the front of the site. Apart from the small office building these buildings have temporary status in GBC planning files which excludes them from the brownfield classification. The site is therefore not brownfield and neither is Browns Field which is protected as a playing field and as part of the Conservation Area.
The special circumstances claim appears to be based on the assertion by the school that it needs to increase its size to 2,000 pupils to meet demand and increase parental choice; that its buildings are old and in bad condition and that it only has 24% of the playing field size it needs. It states that as public funding is not available it needs to be funded by Berkeley Homes rebuilding it on Effingham Lodge Farm in return for being allowed to build 295 houses. The fact that public funding is not available indicates that its rebuilding is not essential and therefore does not qualify as a special circumstance. New schools where needed should be funded by the taxpayer, not by developers being given concessions to build on Green Belt land. With regard to the claims:
The school currently has about 1600 pupils and is already too large for the village. Freedom of information requests by other residents have shown that there is no unmet parental need for the school from its catchment area. Surrey County Council has said that there is no forecast increased demand for places in this part of Surrey. I understand that increased school provision is being planned in the areas where there is demand which will increase parental choice. I would hope that this will mean that over time the size of the school may reduce in size as these new places become available.
The bussing in of its pupils from long distances daily adds to the village’s traffic problems and is surely not in the pupils’ best interests as they would be better going to a closer school.
The school has more than sufficient playing fields as it currently uses the village’s KGV playing fields – a situation which has suited the school and the village for many years. I believe that the majority of schools lease or license their playing fields. It would be nonsensical to have two sets of playing fields in a small village and to destroy good agricultural land to do so. If the plan goes ahead the future of the KGV playing fields would be put at risk.
As regards rebuilding the school this appears to be a desire rather than a need as I understand the school is near the bottom of Surrey County Council’s priority list for rebuilding and only a small amount of money is needed to get the maintenance up to the right standard. The school also does not appear to have fully examined other options for the better use of the existing site.
I trust that as this planning application clearly does not meet planning guidelines that it will be refused.
Dear Mr. Busher,
Planning application 14/P/02109; Howard of Effingham School and Lodge Farm, Lower Road, and Browns Field, Browns Lane, Effingham
I have lived in Effingham for (many/several years) and find it a very agreeable place to live.
Having read data about the above application, I am writing to object strongly to the proposals.
1. Effingham has only about 1,000 dwellings. To increase this number by a further 295 would completely alter the character of the village.
2. The three sites are all in the Green Belt and I have read consistently in the newspapers the directive from central Government that protection of the Green Belt must be paramount.
3. All the sites are outside the settlement area and furthermore, Browns Field is in the Conservation Area of the village.
4. The soil at Effingham Lodge Farm is second highest grade of agricultural quality and is adjacent to the SSSI of Thornet Wood. The glasshouses are only temporary structures. Contrary to Berkeley Homes’ assertion, this is certainly not a brownfield site by any stretch of the imagination.
5. The existing school has 1600 pupils of whom only 10% live in Effingham. To the east of Effingham, there is a conurbation of some 20,000 residents (Bookham approx. 11,000 and Fetcham approx..9,000) yet the current catchment area of the school bisects that conurbation by following the boundary between Bookham and Fetcham. This is totally irrational. Surely any new school, if needed, should be built as centrally as possible to serve such a conurbation, not in an outlying village.
6. The existing roads are already highly congested by school traffic around arrival and departure times, not only by Howard traffic but also other schools in the village and its immediate neighbourhood, namely:
St. Lawrence 200 pupils
Manor House 300 pupils
St Theresa’s 520 pupils.
Add a further 1800 (2000 less 10% Effingham residents) and there will be some 2820 pupils coming to Effingham daily. The infrastructure is not suitable to support such mass influx.
7. I understand that in the SCC list of schools needing some maintenance work, Howard is 51st in a priority list of 52. On that basis no new school is needed in Effingham. The application does not constitute “exceptional circumstances” to override the paramount protection of the Green Belt as directed by Government.
8. At a time when the proposed Local Plans of both Guildford Borough Council and Mole Valley District Council have been shelved, it seems premature to be considering this application at all.
Both the re-worked plans will surely have to address the proper provision of education, both secondary and primary in a comprehensive and sensible manner, particularly in the Mole Valley District.
I trust that the above objections will be taken fully into account in determining this application.
Dear Mr Busher
I wish to object to the above planning application on the following grounds:
1. All three sites are within and form part of the Metropolitan Green Belt and should remain protected.
2. Whilst the current school buildings and the two dwellings and office block on Lodge Farm are areas of brownfield, the glasshouses and remaining acreage are Green Belt fields and mostly high quality agricultural land.
3. Browns field off Browns Lane is not only Green Belt, an untouched beautiful green field, within the Conservation Area but also regularly used as a playing field amenity for kids playing rugby. It is also one of the Howard of Effingham school’s playing fields.
4. Effingham Lodge Farm fulfils the aims of Green Belt in that it acts as a buffer separating the built up areas between Effingham and the Bookhams and thereby prevents urban sprawl.
5. The loss of our natural open countryside views would be lost forever to the detriment of us and our future generations
6. The infrastructure cannot take more traffic, more sewage, more light pollution, more flooding and six years of construction traffic on our narrow congested lanes. Footpaths along Street, Browns Lane, Manor House Lane are not continuous and serve three schools. They are heavily used by students, teachers and parents walking to and from their respective schools. This potential mix of pedestrians, narrow unlit lanes with poor sight lines, no continuous footpaths (on blind bends) and large construction vehicles presents a very real dangerous risk to life and property.
7. Effingham Lodge Farm serves as a wildlife corridor and its loss would impact on their numbers.