Plan to protect Effingham’s green belt reaches ‘landmark stage’

Dorking and Leatherhead Advertiser

A “SIGNIFICANT milestone” has been reached in Effingham’s Neighbourhood Plan after residents overwhelmingly approved the second draft

 

The decision allows the community to move to the next stage of creating the plan, which will set out guidelines for any development in the village.

It also makes Effingham only the second village in the borough of Guildford to have a second draft of its plan – and the first with such a high proportion of green belt land.

Around 50 people attended a meeting in the village on April 19 where the current draft was approved.

The vote means that the Effingham Neighbourhood Plan Group (ENPAG) can now press ahead with the first formal consultation within the neighbourhood planning process.

Liz Hogger, borough councillor for Effingham, said: “This time last year we were faced with almost the total decimation of our village, with around 300 homes and a new school being designated as part of the Berkeley Homes planning proposal.

“Now we have a unique opportunity to develop our environment to meet the needs of local people in a sustainable way.”

Berkeley Homes’ plan to expand Howard of Effingham School and build 300 new homes, using land at Effingham Lodge Farm and the school’s current site, were rejected in March after a debate which had divided the village.

The draft plan, approved at the meeting, includes proposals for small-scale residential developments on four sites that would provide up to 62 smaller, affordable homes for residents.

It also includes the establishment of “wildlife corridors” and “green stepping stones” which will connect wildlife habitats in the parish and aim to limit urban sprawl.

Other measures included in the plan are: the designation of eight “local green spaces” – areas of local community value that will be retained in perpetuity to protect the rural character of the village.

There are also 14 proposed sites of “high community importance” which are to be safeguarded to ensure they are not lost or harmed.

The plan also includes proposals for a formal policy on the prevention of light pollution, measures to minimise traffic and parking congestion and the encouragement of business developments that will provide “more viable” services.

Paula Moss, chairman of ENPAG, said: “In summary, this plan supports the organic development of Effingham to meet the needs of its community.

“It is a planned and measured approach.”

The approval is the latest stage of a process that has been ongoing since 2013. However the project did suffer a setback in 2014 when Guildford Borough Council scrapped its local plan for the area, following a change in Government green belt policy.

The formal public consultation process is due to begin in May.

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