AN appeal by a developer to build 110 homes between Henley and Shiplake has been dismissed
AN appeal by a developer to build 110 homes between Henley and Shiplake has been dismissed by a planning inspector.
Claire Engbers wanted to build flats and houses on 5.65 hectares of open land at Thames Farm, off Reading Road, near Shiplake.
She submitted plans that included 40 per cent affordable housing to South Oxfordshire District Council but was refused, so she appealed. An eight-day public inquiry was held at Henley town hall in December.
Planning inspector Ian Jenkins upheld the council’s decision, saying the proposal was unsustainable.
His report says: “The scheme would have a severe, adverse, residual, cumulative effect on the safety and convenience of highways users. I attach great weight to this harm, which weighs very heavily against the scheme.
“Furthermore, it would have an adverse effect on the character and appearance of the area, which also weighs significantly against it. In terms of the benefits, the appeal proposal would add to the supply of market and affordable housing within the district andâ?¦ these factors attract substantial weight.
“However, this is diminished to a degree as the accessibility of facilities and services from the site by sustainable modes of transport would be moderate at best. The scheme would make adequate provision for an appropriate mix of dwelling types and sizes as well as other facilities and infrastructure needs generated by the appeal scheme. However, these are common requirements of housing development so I give them limited weight.
“I give little weight to the potential benefits to the wider community arising from the infrastructure and facilities provided for by the scheme as there is no evidence to show that they would likely to be significant. Furthermore, I consider it unlikely that the benefits to biodiversity would be significant and so I give this matter limited weight.
“The scheme would provide some benefits to the local economy, such as through the creation of construction jobs and the spending power of future residents. “However, the construction jobs would be limited in duration. Furthermore, there is no evidence to show that without the appeal scheme the viability of any of the facilities or services within Lower Shiplake or the wider area would be under threat. I give these benefits limited weight.
“Having had regard to the social, environmental and economic impacts of the scheme, I consider on balance that the benefits of the proposal would be significantly and demonstrably outweighed by its adverse impacts.”
Mr Jenkins said it would be impossible to put in place reasonable planning conditions that would make the development acceptable, adding: “The scheme would not amount to sustainable development.” Tudor Taylor, who chairs Shiplake Parish Council, which was against the scheme, said: “I am really pleased that Shiplake’s investment in this inquiry paid off and the inspector supported pretty much all our sustainability arguments. A big thank-you to all the team that worked on the defence case and a particular thanks to all the local residents who supported the team over what was an arduous eight-day inquiry.”
David Bartholomew, who represents Shiplake and Harpsden on Oxfordshire County Council and spoke against the plans at the inquiry, said he was delighted at the inspector’s decision.
He said: “The inspector recognised the damage the proposed development would do to the rural character of the area.”
Mrs Engbers did not respond to a request for comment. David Cook, a solicitor who spoke on her behalf, told the inquiry that the site was “ideal” for housing.
He said: “The site has no specific designation. It is not green belt, it is not in an area of outstanding natural beauty, it is not within the flood plain and it is not in an area of great landscape value. It’s not top grade or best and most versatile agricultural land and is not of specific scientific interest. It is an ideal site as part of the village for the development to take place.”
He said Mrs Engbers had gone to the “nth degree” to compromise over making a financial contribution in return for permission.