Tuesday, 24 October 2017

Objections to third bid for new homes in village

COUNCILLORS have moved to block plans for 55 new homes in Sonning Common.

COUNCILLORS have moved to block plans for 55 new homes in Sonning Common.

It is the third application in two years by Richard Scott, owner of the Herb Farm, to develop 10 acres of Lea Meadow, which the parish council has refused to support.

The two previous applications — one for 85 homes and one for 105 — were withdrawn.

Sonning Common has been allocated 152 new homes in South Oxfordshire District Council’s core strategy.

Councillor Barrie Greenwood, who chairs the council’s planning committee, outlined its objections in a letter to district Council, the planning authority.

He said: “Sonning Common Parish Council is currently working towards producing its own neighbourhood plan and will not agree to proposals for large developments within the parish until this is completed.

“We also need to conform with the district council’s core strategy and its plans for future housing in larger villages.

“The outline planning request fails, in our opinion, to satisfy planning policies concerning the scale of the development in relation to its site and surrounding landscape and residential areas.

“The request for approximately 55 houses at a density of 25 dwellings per hectare is still too high when compared with the lower densities of neighbouring residential areas, for example Westleigh Drive and Ilex Close (18 to 20 dwellings per hectare).

“In order to retain as much of the rural character of this area as possible and protect the interface with the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, we believe the site needs wider and better hedging along its borders, particularly to the south, west and east.

“We believe that some plot land development along the eastern side backing on to the B481 would reflect the traditional character and layout of housing along the feeder roads into and around the village envelope.

“Lower housing densities around the boundaries with higher densities in the central areas would be appropriate.

“Thus the proposal breaches principles of good design in failing to integrate properly with the character of the surrounding residential area and landscape setting. The density and layout of the housing is inappropriate to the site and its surroundings.

“The Essex Way residents fear loss of amenity value, potential for crime and fear of disturbance if this becomes a public thoroughfare. We agree with them as currently there is no public access.”

A design and access statement by Hankinson Duckett Associates says the development would be “landscape-led” which would be “appropriate” for the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Existing trees, hedges and scrub planting adjacent to Peppard Road would be retained and there would be planting on higher parts of the site to reduce the potential for views of development across the site.

The existing mature trees on the site’s southern boundary with Essex Way and Bird Wood Court would also be kept and the properties would be built to avoid direct overlooking.

The distance between the nearest property at Bird Wood Court and the site would be about 40m and there would be a 10m-wide strip of tree and scrub planting between properties at Bird Wood Court and the edge of the development.

The plans also include new pedestrian and cycle access through the site to Kennylands Road and Peppard Road.

The homes would be either one or two storeys. About 40 per cent of them would be affordable and spread throughout the site as small groups of units with about 30 of them being rented out.

The statement says the existing access to the Herb Farm would be replaced by a new access to the south which would serve both sites.

The district council will make a final decision by February 13.

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