A Farnham Lane resident has rubbished “exaggerated and untruthful” claims by Royal School operator United Learning that those opposing its expansion plans are guilty of double standards.
The latest comments by retired journalist John Laurence come a week after United Learning claimed its detractors will back increased traffic "when it is for their own profit" but not for the "continued viability" of a school.
An application by United Learning for permission to remove the existing limit of 200 day pupils at the Royal School in Haslemere so that it can transfer about 100 additional students and faculty from Hindhead to Haslemere, is currently pending a decision by Waverley Borough Council.
The request has been roundly criticised by local objectors, who fear it will lead to an increase in traffic in Farnham Lane and the wider area, putting residents at risk.
However, last week, a United Learning spokesman accused its detractors of hypocrisy, saying “residents admit the only growth in traffic over the past 20 years arises from the 30 per cent growth in homes on the lane, which is due to residents selling large gardens for ‘infill’ housing”.
The spokesman added: “When it is for their own profit, increased traffic seems acceptable. Where it is to ensure the continued viability and success of a school, however, any change is suddenly impossible.”
Responding, Farnham Lane resident Mr Laurence, a renowned journalist whose report of a public meeting to discuss plans to lift a cap on day pupil numbers at the Royal School’s senior site in Haslemere recently featured in the Herald, has raised “serious objections” to United Learning’s hypocrisy claims.
He said: “‘The residents admit’ appears to have come from a remark made by a Triangle Group committee member who said a veteran postal carrier made the calculation based on his own observations over the past 20 years.
“For one thing, postal deliveries on Farnham Lane are made by at least two carriers, possibly more, so no one carrier could accurately calculate such an increase in new houses.
“For another, I know of only six new houses that have been built in the past 30-plus years. These were constructed from existing buildings at the Ockenden Venture, a charity for homeless children from overseas that sold its property to a builder in the 1990s.
“That additional traffic on the lane is microscopic compared to what will happen if 100 or so young students from the Hindhead school have to be driven to and from the Royal School every day.
“There is no hypocrisy. I cannot remember any other new homes that have been built on the lane in the past 32 years. I would have noticed because of the large number of construction vehicles that would have been involved.
“Some homes have been refurbished or extended, causing additional traffic problems, but that’s been it.
“The exaggerated and untruthful claims of United Learning are becoming hysterical.”
Waverley is yet to set a committee date to determine United Learning’s application after Surrey County Council’s highways department raised its own safety concerns last week.