Sunday, 22 October 2017

Villagers attack plan for new house in pub garden

PLANS to build a five- bedroom house in the garden of a pub in Whitchurch Hill have been criticised by

PLANS to build a five- bedroom house in the garden of a pub in Whitchurch Hill have been criticised by residents.

Brakspear sold the Sun Inn in Hill Bottom to businessman Richard Hazell last month but kept part of the surrounding land.

Now the Henley pub company has applied for permission to build a two-storey house on a triangular pitch to the west of the pub.

It says the house would be in keeping with the area and would be screened from the view of neighbouring properties.The site is currently a beer garden with tables, benches and a paved children’s area with slides and a trampoline.

It is used for dozens of community events each year, including Easter egg hunts, fireworks displays and charity fund-raisers.

Mr Hazell bought more than an acre of land behind the pub and has promised to set up a new beer garden there.

Seventeen villagers have written to South Oxfordshire District Council to object to Brakspear’s planning application.

Elizabeth Clark, of Hill Bottom Close, said: “As an integral part of the village community, this area is used by hundreds of residents and visitors to the Chilterns every year.

“If this development is given approval it will destroy part of our rural community life.” Henry Kinniburgh, of Whitchurch Hill, said: “By allowing this to be built you would be removing the last remaining amenity in the village where adults can socialise and children play safely.”

Tarek Moghul, of Linden Cottages, said: “Cramming in more residential property would not add value to that part of Hill Bottom and certainly wouldn’t be in keeping with the surrounding area.”

Michael Holland, of New Buildings, said: “Given how much money Brakspear has taken from the community over the years, I am appalled that they have sought to try to wring every last penny that they can out of us.”

Mr Hazell, who lives in Whitchurch Hill and owns tarmac contractors Hazell & Jefferies, offered to buy the Sun when former landlords Christine Mott and Ros Davies announced their departure.

He said he feared for the pub’s future and wanted to give it a better chance of survival as a free house.

New landlord and lifelong village resident Judith Butler took over this week and the pub will be refurbished shortly.

Mr Hazell said: “I knew Brakspear’s intentions when I bought the pub but I had no choice. They made an offer and I could take it or leave it.

“If Brakspear had wanted all the garden I would not have bought the pub and if they couldn’t have this land they would not have sold it.

“I’m perfectly happy that there’s enough space for a car park and a beer garden at the back, so the pub will not be affected.

“I was worried the pub would be closed down and built on. It is not going to be a very profitable exercise for me but I want it to stay open for the community’s sake.”

Goring Heath Parish Council is due to discuss the plan. Chairman Peter Dragonetti said: “Applications like this have been refused in the past, so I imagine it would be contrary to the district council’s planning policy.”

Brakspear originally planned to build two four-bedroom houses but the district council warned this might result in overdevelopment.

In a letter of advice, officers expressed “real concerns” that the people in the houses would be bothered by noise from the pub and said a single home would be better.

They said building homes on the site was “acceptable in principle”.

David Nathan, Brakspear’s finance director, said: “We are seeking planning permission for a home which I believe is in line with that landscape at that end of the village. I have not seen the objections but I will have a look at what they say.

“If there is a general groundswell of feeling against it then that will doubtless be taken into account by the planning authority.”

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