Wednesday, 18 October 2017

Nursery fails in bid to turn old building into staff quarters

A BID to convert an empty building at a Henley children’s nursery into staff accommodation has been turned down.

A BID to convert an empty building at a Henley children’s nursery into staff accommodation has been turned down.

The owners of the Orchard Farm nursery off Fair Mile wanted to create three bedrooms inside the building.

Nick and Carole Gorvin had previously applied for a change of use from storage to a three-bedroom bungalow.

Since the application was made, they have sold the business to the Old Station Nursery group.

South Oxfordshire District Council’s planning committee refused the application on the recommendation of Henley Town Council following objections by neighbours and heritage group the Henley Society.

Stanley Carter, who lives next door, told the committee: “This building and others on the site are in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

“The application represents a further change of use on an already overcrowded site. If converted to living accommodation, it is not difficult to imagine subsequent applications to extend it further and build garages and outbuildings for it. Also, if the nursery school is affected by falling numbers, change of use to domestic dwellings on other buildings on the site is probable. This is characteristic of the creeping development that has already occurred on the site.

“Alternatively, if the publicised applications of the new managers of the nursery are met, the building will be needed for classroom accommodation anyway or yet another building will be needed on the site.

“Over the years we have witnessed significant building changes to the curtilage and incremental commercialisation on what was a domestic dwelling and garden. Orchard Farm was never a farm.”

Councillor Joan Bland, who represents Henley north, appealed ro the committee to refuse the application, saying there were already too many buildings on the site, creating an “eyesore”.

Councillor Alan Rooke (Sonning Common) said the district council should support nurseries and proposed approving the plans.

But Councillor John Cotton (Sandford) said: “Any move to residential is going to have a far greater impact on what actually is a very iconic part of Henley.

“This is a particularly attractive spot. The drive down the Fair Mile is a very significant part of the entrance to Henley.

“Any intensification in that area is to the detriment and more so given it is in the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

“I think this is just a move to at some point go on to full residential permission. I am absolutely convinced making residential use of this building is highly detrimental to this particular area and would lead to a further series of applications.”

The committee voted by six votes to five to refuse the application.

The Gorvins opened the nursery in 2004 and said they decided to sell it to “take a break” and give the business to younger people. The nursery provides day care for up to 64 children under five.

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