Friday, 25 May 2018

Council opposes plans for homes as ‘wrong type’

PLANS for 27 new homes on the edge of Goring have been opposed by residents and councillors.

PLANS for 27 new homes on the edge of Goring have been opposed by residents and councillors.

The parish council says the proposed development on a field between Manor Road and Elmcroft is too far from the village centre and would not meet growing demand for smaller, cheaper homes.

Elegant Homes, of Caversham, and Frenbury Developments are seeking outline planning permission to build on the 2.67 hectare site, which they say is disused farmland with “little economic function”.

But last week the parish council’s planning committee unanimously agreed to recommend that South Oxfordshire District Council refuses permission.

The committee said the proposal was against the district council’s policy of encouraging development within the village envelope and would be inappropriate development in the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Two dozen residents were present at the meeting and encouraged the committee to oppose the application as Goring is preparing a neighbourhood plan that will identify the sites for 105 new homes in order to meet government targets.

Objectors said the Manor Road scheme could interfere with this process and urged the committee to refuse to consider any major planning applications until the plan is  published.

The committee said it couldn’t do this but would object to the application as there were valid grounds for doing so.

Chairman David Brooker said previous applications to develop the site had been refused and the two companies were not offering the type of housing that was needed.

He said: “We have a problem with large units being built at low density. Since I joined the council we’ve had a number of applications like this. People buy a house then want to increase the number of bedrooms or build a small number of additional large houses.

“There’s loads of that going on but no one is proposing smaller units for young residents wishing to stay here or older people who’d dearly love to downsize without moving away.”

Councillor Brooker added that instead of making 40 per cent of the homes affordable, the developers were offering to make a contribution towards affordable housing to be built elsewhere in Goring.

Nigel Gilson, chairman of the neighbourhood plan steering group, said: “We’re very concerned by this application as it could undermine the whole thing. We are trying to drive a democratic process forward that gives everyone a say and it’s very disconcerting to have this thrown into the pot now.”

Henley MP John Howell, who helped devise the 2011 Localism Act, which introduced neighbourhood plans, said: “This application does not undermine the plan but reinforces the argument in its favour.

“You can’t put the entire planning process on hold because no one can be sure whether a village will see it through. For example, Benson started making a neighbourhood plan but later pulled out.

“I have stressed very clearly to people in Goring that the closer a plan gets to adoption, the more weight it will carry when the district council is assessing applications.”

The applicants say they need to build at a lower density in order to comply with the district council’s local plan, which says the field can be developed if trees around the boundary are retained.

They say they will plant additional trees and will design the two-storey homes in red brick and brown tile to comply with laws on development in an AONB.

The district council is accepting comments until December 2 and will decide the application by the end of January.

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