EPC Concluding Remarks to the Appeal into 110 homes on the Green Belt

Effingham Parish Council’s (EPC) barrister, Scott Stemp, has submitted his concluding remarks to the Planning Inspector into the appeal by Berkeley Homes for 110 additional homes on the Green Belt (see our post Public Inquiry ends into 110 Homes on the Green Belt), with copies for Guildford Borough Council (GBC), and Berkeley Homes. His statement can be read on the EPC website here. Needless to say, he found numerous reasons to conclude the appeal should be dismissed.

Appeal APP/Y3615/W/22/3298390 for the detailed design of 99 homes on the existing school site, was concerned with “…the harm the tranquillity, setting and significance of the Little Bookham Conservation Area, and the listed building (and its curtilage) known as All Saints Church…” The EPC case was that the harm could be reduced by a redesign of the planning application (which already has outline planning permission).

Appeal APP/Y3615/W/22/3298341 for an additional 110 homes on the Green Belt on the Effingham Lodge Farm site, was concerned with the harm to the Green Belt, and the overly urban form of development harming the character and appearance of the rural character of the area, especially along Effingham Common Road.

Berkeley Homes argued that the extra homes were needed to pay for the building of the replacement Howard of Effingham School. However, during the Inquiry, it became apparent that at the Appeal hearing in 2017, when approval was granted for 295 enabling homes on the Green Belt, there was no outline design for the school, but rather costs were based on the size of the building. After winning the appeal in 2018, the Howard Partnership Trust instructed architects to design the replacement school, along with offices for the Trust staff without setting a budget, nor any other constraint. Consequently other options, such as designing to a budget had not been properly considered. The need for an enlarged school was seriously challenged due to the lack of supporting evidence. The viability  for the replacement school and enabling homes has been seriously questioned, with accusations of double counting and gold plating.

It was disappointing to learn the disrespect that Berkeley Homes and the Howard Partnership Trust has shown towards residents. Their barrister has accused residents of being NIMBY’s despite having an adopted Neighbourhood Plan with allocated sites for development. It was noted that whilst their was some initial support for the replacement school, there is very strong opposition to the latest planning application.

GBC are due to submit their concluding remarks to the Planning Inspector today (Thursday 13 October), with the Berkeley Homes barrister submitting his concluding remarks on Monday 17 October.

No timetable has been set for when a decision by the Planning Inspector will be announced.

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