Sunday, 15 July 2018

Plans for 35 homes refused on appeal

PLANS to build 35 homes on the outskirts of Goring have been refused permission after an appeal.

PLANS to build 35 homes on the outskirts of Goring have been refused permission after an appeal.

Elegant Homes, of Caversham, and Frenbury Developments had requested outline consent to develop a disused agricultural field between Manor Road and Elmcroft, which they said had “little economic function”.

Their application was refused by South Oxfordshire District Council on the grounds that it was inappropriate development in the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Now planning inspector Kenneth Stone has upheld the decision, saying the development would result in “material harm” to the village’s rural character and landscape.

The developers originally sought consent for 27 homes, which the parish council and a number of residents opposed as being the wrong type.

Elegant and Frenbury wanted to build larger homes with no “affordable” units and instead offered to fund affordable units elsewhere.

However, opponents said Goring needed smaller, cheaper houses so that young people could afford to live in the village.

Councillors said the application was “opportunistic” as the village was in the process of compiling a neighbourhood plan to determine where 86 new homes should be built by 2027.

The district council has since announced that neighbourhood plans’ housing quotas are unenforceable because of a housing land shortage across South Oxfordshire.

However, while this means it must take a more permissive approach to development, schemes that would cause “significant and demonstrable harm” may still be rejected.

Mr Stone, who visited the 2.67-hectare site, said the field provided a “gradual and pleasing transition to the open countryside” beyond the built-up centre of Goring and contributed to its rural atmosphere.

He said part of the plot could not be developed due to a heightened flood risk, meaning a higher density would be required on the remainder and this would result in a “significantly more urban form that would be incompatible with the rural character of the area”.

He said the development would extend the village envelope and be visible from many angles, causing “significant harm in the immediate locality”.

He also said part of Manor Road might need to be widened and this could damage nearby trees.

Mr Stone said he had given little weight to the emerging neighbourhood plan as it was at an early stage.

He said he understood the need for new housing in Goring but this did not outweigh the need to protect the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Parish council chairman Kevin Bulmer said: “I thought it was incredibly obvious that this shouldn’t be allowed but officials don’t always reach the same interpretation, so I’m pleased at the outcome.

“It was inappropriate to put this forward before the neighbourhood plan was ready and it should have gone before the steering group. The applicants were clearly trying to rush it through.”

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