Friday, 20 July 2018

Campaigner in ‘integrity’ row in second bid for new house

A CAMPAIGNER is seeking planning permission for a new house next to his current home

A CAMPAIGNER is seeking planning permission for a new house next to his current home for the second time.

Peter Richardson, of Howe Hill, near Watlington, was refused consent by South Oxfordshire District Council in November and a planning inspector upheld the decision on appeal earlier this year.

The inspector said the development would affect road safety and the “modest” economic benefits would be outweighed by its “low levels of social and economic sustainability”.

Mr Richardson claims that he has now addressed these issues and has applied for permission to build a three-bedroom detached house described as a “a self-built retirement cottage” measuring 12m by 9m.

A design and access statement by DP Architects says: “The proposed property will be a modern construction and design reflecting the variety of property styles in this location.

“The key element will be the relationship of the house to the existing landscape and levels.

“The house will be designed to sit seamlessly into the setting and landscaping will contribute equally to the setting as the design of the property itself.”

In a planning statement, Mr Richardson said: “Howe Hill is one of three complete settlements within the parish and the emerging neighbourhood plan recognises their role in supporting the economic and social sustainability of the town.

“The majority of development in the upper part of Howe Hill took place in the Sixties and [this plot] has a unusually large garden for a comparatively small property.

“The owners wish to construct a retirement dwelling which is both energy efficient and easy to maintain with a manageable amenity area.

“It is strongly contended that this revised proposal addresses previous reasons for refusal and that local and district policy has changed to such an extent that the cumulative value of small sites, whether they be considered as windfall or otherwise, should not be ignored. Building new homes on small sites, whether in rural or urban locations, can deliver a range of economic and social benefits.

“This proposal addresses the reason for refusal on the grounds of harm to highways safety by relocating the access further to the south and increasing the visibility splay.

“The proposal now includes a revised realignment of the boundary wall, together with a reinstatement of the verge and includes other remodelling of the parking area.

“There have been no traffic incidents at the current access point in the six years that the current owners have been in residence and it is maintained that a shared access serving two dwellings will have a minimal effect.”

When he was refused planning permission previously, Mr Richardson accused councillors of questioning his integrity.

In recent years he has campaigned successfully to make Howe Hill a designated settlement, meaning that it is officially recognised as a place, and for the area to have a lower speed limit and to be included in the rollout of superfast broadband.

Watlington Parish Council’s planning committee opposed the first application on the grounds that the development would impact on the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and affect neighbouring properties and traffic.

But the council’s letter of objection said: “It was noted that [planning officer] Simon Kitson has indicated that the applicant has been discussing the matter of a new dwelling with him for a number of years.

“This may put into context the considerable effort that the applicant has put into leading a campaign for the recognition of Howe Hill and Howe Combe as one single settlement, a campaign against perceived high traffic speeds and volumes and the desirability of a new bus stop close to his property.

“However, a 40mph speed limit and the erection of two place-name signs designed to reinforce it cannot mask the fact that between those two signs are two distinct, very small rural settlements separated by about half a mile of woodland and a steep hill.”

Mr Richardson claimed that the letter implied his campaigns were designed to benefit him personally and asked the council to remove that part of its letter in case it influenced the outcome of his appeal. The council refused.

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