Saturday, 18 November 2017

Retirement community proposal rejected

PLANS to build a 106-bed “retirement community” near Shiplake have been rejected.

Retirement Villages Group, of Surrey, applied for planning permission to develop a field off the A4155 Reading Road, opposite the entrance to the Haileywood Farm industrial estate.

The company was working with landowner Dr Harjot Bal, a GP from Woodley, on the application for the 2.65-hectare site.

South Oxfordshire District Council, the planning authority, refused consent, saying the development would urbanise the countryside and be in an unsustainable location.

The company proposed building a 40-bed care home and 66 “extra care” units comprising 24 dormer bungalows and 42 extra care apartments as well as communal care facilities, including a gym, shop, hairdresser, bar and clubhouse.

Shiplake Parish Council opposed the plans, as did 75 residents whose concerns included lack of infrastructure, the impact on wildlife and light pollution.

Adrian Duffield, head of planning at the district council, said: “The development would not accord with the distribution strategy for housing within the district and would not be easily accessible to services and facilities by sustainable modes of transport.

“It has not been demonstrated that the development could provide appropriate accessibility for pedestrians, to the detriment of highway safety and convenience.

“The site forms part of the immediate countryside setting of Lower Shiplake and contributes to its separation from Shiplake.

“The proposal would have an unacceptable urbanising impact on this predominantly rural, settlement edge location. It would significantly detract from the character and appearance of the site and surrounding area and potential additional tree loss as a result of the proposed footway could further detract from the rural and sylvan approach to Lower Shiplake.”

Tudor Taylor, chairman of Shiplake Parish Council, said: “This is a good result and one which we lobbied hard for. The quality of people’s objections was strong and I’m pleased the district council took them into account.

“It was nothing to do with Nimbyism — that site was utterly inappropriate for that kind of development.”

David Bartholomew, the village’s county councillor, said: “Proposing a retirement village on a sloping site with no direct connection to the village centre made no sense.

It would have been ludicrous and totally inappropriate.”

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