Saturday, 21 July 2018

Residents angry after inspector approves 'huge' new infill house

RESIDENTS have lost their fight against plans for a “huge” new house in Sonning Common.

A planning inspector has granted an appeal by Hazelwood Estates against the refusal of planning permission for the four-bedroom property in the garden of a house in Baskerville Road with access via Woodlands Road.

South Oxfordshire District Council, the planning authority, refused consent on the grounds of scale, bulk, height and design and because the house would be out of keeping with the character of the area.

But planning inspector Nick Fagan overruled this decision, saying the development would not be unneighbourly, overbearing nor out of character.

Nineteen residents and Sonning Common Parish Council had objected to the application.

Mr Fagan said there would some loss of morning sunlight in the rear garden of a neighbouring house but this would not be severe enough to warrant refusal.

He continued: “I cannot see how it could be said to have an overbearing effect on the host property. It would have no significant impacts on any other neighbours’ living conditions.

“The parish council points out that there is no need for additional dwellings in the parish because the local planning authority has more than a three-year supply of housing sites and relevant policies for the supply of housing are not therefore out-of-date.

“While this is so, I have concluded that the proposed dwelling would be acceptable infill development in compliance with development plan policy, including relevant Sonning Common neighbourhood development plan policies, and there is no ceiling on housing delivery.

“The parish council and neighbours have also raised concerns about traffic and parking implications, including in relation to the construction process.

“However, neither the planning authority nor the highways authority has raised any such concerns.

“It is clear that adequate parking would be provided on-site and satisfactory vehicular and pedestrian visibility splays would be provided at the proposed access.

“It was also obvious from my site visit that Woodlands Road, which has no parking restrictions, is lightly parked.”

Objector Gaye Rice, of Woodlands Road, said she was dismayed by the inspector’s decision. In a letter to the parish council, she said it made “a nonsense” of any informed decision made by the  parish council and the district council’s  planning committee to protect the village from inappropriate 

Mrs Rice said: “I do not understand why a government inspector, who knows little of the area, should have the authority to override, and therefore undermine, those working hard to ensure that appropriate development takes place so that the character of the village is not destroyed. 

“Huge houses are being squeezed in on minute plots that do not reflect the local surroundings.

“I am outraged that a government inspector can 
completely ignore neighbourhood plan policies that have been five years in the making.

“If decisions made unanimously by local councils and neighbourhoods can be overturned on appeal, then what is the point of having a planning department in district councils, parish councils and, above all, a neighbourhood development plan that has cost the taxpayer £63,000 to put in place? 

“We might as well just have a dictatorship set up by government inspectors and builders since evidence shows that neither of these have any regard for the rest of us!”

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