Monday, 20 November 2017

Revealed: nine sites for housing in village fighting development

Revealed: nine sites for housing in village fighting development

NINE sites in Shiplake earmarked for new housing have been revealed.

The village’s neighbourhood plan was unveiled at public consultation meetings held over the weekend attended by more than 300 people.

The document names six preferred sites and three reserves where 33 new homes could be built by 2033 to comply with South Oxfordshire District Council’s new local plan, which is currently being drafted.

This is a five per cent increase on the village’s 660 existing properties.

It comes after Shiplake Parish Council lost the latest round of its fight to stop the development of 95 homes at Thames Farm just outside the village.

One chosen site is 0.4 acres at the end of Northfield Road, which is currently occupied by Shiplake Motors, an independent garage.

The plans says a new development could include one- or two-bedroom flats or a mix of terraced and semi-detached houses with two and three bedrooms as well as a small number of retail units.

Two neighbouring plots off Reading Road, opposite the main entrance to Shiplake College, could have a similar mixture of housing. The combined sites cover about an acre and include a house that is owned by the college but said to be in a “poor” condition.

The fourth site is 0.57 acres off New Road, just east of its junction with Crowsley Road, which the document says could take up to four houses or a small block of flats, although access rights need to be confirmed.

The fifth site is on the northern side of New Road, immediately before the first houses near the Crowsley Road junction. It covers 1.72 acres and is currently the subject of a planning appeal after the landowner was refused permission for four large houses.

The sixth site is a two-acre strip of land along the southern edge of Plough Lane, opposite both entrances to Plowden Way. The plan says this could accommodate 12 to 15 terraced or semi-detached houses of two or three bedrooms.

The first reserve plot is a 2.17-acre field east of Reading Road, which runs behind the houses at the end of Baskerville Lane and could take 10 to 12 semi-detached properties with access from the rear and not the main road.

The second reserve is 0.95 acres off New Road, opposite the fourth main site, which could take about four small properties. Behind this is the third reserve site, which measures 1.35 acres and could take about six small properties.

The volunteer steering group which compiled the neighbourhood plan says it has put the emphasis on smaller properties because the current number of large homes in the village far exceeds the national average.

According to a survey of residents carried out this summer, demand is highest for either bungalows or houses with up to three bedrooms.

Forty-four per cent of villagers are over retirement age and many want to downsize within Shiplake but can’t find somewhere smaller.

The group based its list of sites on criteria including the traffic impact, sustainability and the preservation of the open countryside between Lower Shiplake and Shiplake Cross.

It also proposes a “shared space” at the junction of Station Road and Mill Road where walkers, cyclists and drivers would share priorities. Parking would be reserved for residents of Northfield Road and there could be seating, a bicycle rack, planting, lighting, a water feature and space for a community Christmas tree.

Other proposals include improved cycle links to Henley, which could involve a new route over the village railway bridge or along the A4155, and the adoption of electric vehicle charging points or a renewable energy scheme like a biomass boiler.

According to feedback forms submitted at the consultation meetings, almost three-quarters of villagers support the plan.

Ray Brooks, of Station Road, said: “A lot of houses in Shiplake are being extended so there’s already a lot of construction traffic.

“If they’re going to build 33 new houses, it must be managed so it doesn’t happen all at once, which would make the situation worse.”

Barry Callcott, of Crowsley Road, said: “I’d be more likely to support it if the allocation was reduced. There’s only one brownfield site, which surprises me as some very big homes are being demolished to build new ones in their place.”

Micky Denehy, of New Road, said: “The principle of the plan is good but I think there are too many sites on the edge of built-up areas, which will erode the green gap between the two parts of the village.”

Liz James, of Station Road, said: “I think the allocations are fine. People will always complain that they don’t want development but it’s going to happen and you can’t complain. My only fear is that nobody will take notice of the plan when it’s done.”

Shiplake Parish Council chairman Tudor Taylor said: “We’re pleased that the consultation was incredibly well-supported. One of our community’s greatest strengths is its communication.

“The speed of progress on the plan has been fabulous, without any detriment to the quality or depth. We have a lot of expertise on board and many people who are willing to publicise it.”

Shiplake’s county councillor David Bartholomew, who is a member of the steering group, said: “We’ve looked at every possible development site and approached the assessment process in a logical way.

“Nothing is fixed at this stage and, depending on the feedback we receive, we may modify the plan before it goes to referendum.”

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