Thursday, 17 August 2017

Parishes in boundary dispute

A TERRITORY dispute has broken out between Sonning Common and a neighbouring parish.

A TERRITORY dispute has broken out between Sonning Common and a neighbouring parish.

The parish council wants to extend its boundary at four points, saying the existing one was created before much of the housing was built.

But Peppard parish opposes the proposals.

Sonning Common was responding to a request for suggestions from South Oxfordshire District Council, which plans to review boundaries before the next parish council elections in May 2015.

It asked for Chiltern Edge School, which currently lies in Kidmore End parish, to be moved into Sonning Common, saying it is already “physically considerably separated”.

The parish council said: “Most of our residents believe that the school is actually in Sonning Common.

“Indeed, until recently disabused of it, that was also the belief of the school’s headteacher and its governing body.

“All traffic to and from the school passes through Sonning Common with the bulk of it traversing Kennylands Road and Reades Lane.”

The school has been included in the Sonning Common neighbourhood plan as the governors are said to favour selling off part of the land for housing.

The council said: “Those new residents would, without any doubt, look to us and our village centre to provide them with many services.

“For them to find that they should look to Kidmore End on parish council matters would be anomalous to say the least.”

The council also staked a claim for part of Peppard parish.

Residents of Shiplake Bottom have previously complained about the boundaries separating the parishes cutting the street in half.

Sonning Common said: “This arrangement leaves a substantial block of housing that seems to be part of this settlement actually outside our parish boundary.”

It also asked that properties in Blounts Court Road be moved into Sonning Common, including the offices and laboratories of Johnson Matthey, whose staff car park is already in the parish, and that the village name board at the tip of a triangle between Kennylands Road and Peppard Road be moved inside the parish.

Peppard Parish Council asked to extend its own boundary beyond the southern tip of Shiplake Bottom to include part of Peppard Road until it meets Widmore Lane in order to extend the catchment area of the village’s new primary school.

This would mean about 130 houses in Widmore Lane, Park Close, Pond End Road and Churchill Crescent would move into the parish from Sonning Common, as would the Butcher’s Arms pub and a play area.

In a letter to the district council, Peppard said: “Development of the new primary school in Peppard has been supported by the parish council so that the parish remains as a village community and not a dormitory for commuters.

“Moving homes into Peppard increases the numbers in the catchment area and therefore the viability of the school. By extending the boundary to these homes, the children would benefit from the new facilities that will come with this new school.

“Children living in the area currently attending the village school from within this area would benefit from a free bus for transport, which would ease the congestion issues at school drop-off and pick-up.”

The council claims that many residents in the area already believe they live in Peppard.

Councillor Simon Crouch told a parish council meeting that Sonning Common Primary School was oversubscribed and would probably appreciate the move.

Councillor Leeanne Flett said Springwater Church in Blounts Court Road was one of the oldest in the country and had always been known to be in Peppard.

“If you take that road away it would leave Peppard with just one church and I think that dilutes the feeling of village pride,” she said.

“This area was included in our community plan a couple of years ago and we’ve had no one come to say, ‘I don’t know why we’re part of Peppard, we should be in Sonning Common’.”

Councillor Fiona Berry said a lot of residents of Shiplake Bottom used Peppard Memorial Hall, adding: “There’s an issue about how we support the memorial hall and we would be losing the main users from our parish.”

Kidmore End Parish Council has yet to respond formally.

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