THE ruling over controversial plans to build nearly 300 homes on green-belt land in Effingham has been delayed again
By Jennifer Hardwick firstname.lastname@example.org
Guildford Borough Council was expected by many in the area to rule this month on the proposed expansion of Howard of Effingham School, which would be funded by the construction of 295 new properties.
However, council officers have stated that a decision had been planned for February, but has now been put back to March to give them more time to consider the plans.
Council spokeswoman Claire Andrews said: “The determination date has been extended until March 18 to allow the applicant to submit additional information relating to the proposal, following receipt of comments from statutory and non-statutory consultees.”
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 scheme would increase the student capacity from 1,600 to 2,000 and be supported by the development of 295 homes split between the two sites and the three-acre Browns Field.
Hundreds of villagers have voiced opposition to the plans via the council’s planning website, citing issues such as increased traffic and the loss of green-belt land.
Among those is Nicola Kennard, who said: “We have a green belt for a reason, to stop the spread of urbanisation and we must maintain it.
“The Howard does not need to take more students, there are other very good schools in the area. The additional housing would put great strain on the roads and other facilities in the area.
“If more sports facilities are needed, put those in and build a car park to stop blocking the Lower Road. The design is totally out of keeping with the rural feel of Bookham and Effingham.”
However, others have come out in support of the plans, arguing the school needs better teaching facilities.
Karen Lowe wrote: “As a prospective parent I attended an open evening and was amazed that the school is so successful with a site that is frankly not fit for purpose.
“The playground areas for recreation are smaller than the primary school my child attends. It is outdated and not suitable for children with any form of disabilities.
“If we wish to continue to enable the children of the parish to fulfil their academic potential then an improvement needs to be made to the site.”
The application was originally set to be decided at a meeting of the borough council’s planning committee in March 2015.