The Effingham Village Plan team has invited you to take part in a survey but what does this mean?
The survey refers to “previously built on land” – we understand that this refers to the glasshouses on Effingham Lodge Farm off Lower Road. Without a doubt, this land is currently Green Belt. Using terms like “previously build on” may be regarded as disingenuous. The land is not a brownfield site. Please see the extract shown below from Surrey County Council’s Head of Development specifying the temporary nature of these buildings.
A number of factors exist for consideration with this land:
1. Berkeley Homes have lodged a Planning Application on the same land – in fact they own it. Their plan drawings include a large housing estate and a new school for the Howard. Effingham Parish Council and hundreds of others have strongly objected to this plan.
2. However, Effingham Parish Council now propose a smaller scale development on the very same Berkeley Homes site and that the remained of the land be designated a SANG. (If this goes to an Appeal Hearing a barrister is likely to explore this apparent contradiction.)
(SANG means a ‘Suitable Alternative Natural Green Open Space’ – it is an EU Regulation intended to safeguard protected areas such as Wisley Common from development but unfortunately is open to misuse. In effect, in brief, the absence of a SANG car park within five miles of Wisley Common effectively means that there cannot be 2100 new houses there.)
3. A SANG at Effingham Lodge Farm has a number of implications:
a) It protects that land from further development in perpetuity,
b) It removes a significant obstacle that currently prevents development at Wisley (as the later addition of a car park on the SANG land, not currently included in the proposal, could be built paving the way for developments up to five miles away instead of only 400 metres if there was actually no car park),
c) Opens up the possibility of other large housing developments close by at Bookham in Mole Valley.
4. From the offices of Guildford Borough Council Planning we can confirm that this site is seen in terms of being a Strategic Site for the Local Plan – which has not gone away.
5. Even if the Steering Group/EPC manage to bring in a successful Neighbourhood Plan the Examiner may not consider it outweighs other developments plans. And when the Local Plan comes in our village Housing Need numbers may be revised upwards. Guildford Borough officials advised us that it might be better to create a Neighbourhood Plan after their draft Local Plan has re-emerged. It may be worth noting that the footprint of the permanent (brownfield) buildings at Effingham Lodge Farm in total probably amount to no more than about eight new three-bedroom homes.
So is the Survey Monkey going to help? Would a small housing development and SANG on Lower Road bring about the destruction of Wisley? Would this mean more traffic congestion, flooding, sewage and water supply issues, closed roads, transport problems and pollution etc? If we reject the small development of 60-70 new homes and the SANG do we end up with say 400 houses on Effingham Lodge Farm and no new school?
Or do we fight every step of the way to save our precious Green Belt?
As Cllr Liz Hogger put it, “… development along Effingham Common Road would open the door to development of the Pinetree land (now known as Effingham Lodge Farm), doing huge damage to the village’s Green Belt.” (Liberal Democrat Focus 2000)