Sunday, 15 July 2018

Objections to new homes in iconic grounds

A BUSINESSMAN’S plans for five new homes in Watlington have run into opposition from residents.

A BUSINESSMAN’S plans for five new homes in Watlington have run into opposition from residents.

Errol Facy, who owns Facys of Henley and is chairman of the Henley Society, wants to develop inside the grounds of Ingham House, off Brook Street, and to amend an access.

He has applied to build to two semi-detached houses and three detached. Residents of Brook Street say the development would result in the loss of iconic trees and affect road safety.

Ken and Janet Vaughan say they would be “dramatically” affected by the use of a lane that provides access to their property, Ingham House and a handful of other homes.

The couple said: “The proposals involve a re-alignment of the existing access and a change in lane construction. The inevitable disruption to the character of the area would be unacceptable.

“As well as proposing the felling of two mature lime trees, major work in the lane would inevitably damage all the trees, including a magnificent horse chestnut, and ultimately endanger both ours and surrounding houses. An iconic feature of the Watlington landscape would be lost.

“The use of the lane for present access to Brook Street is just about manageable. If the use is extended as envisaged the risks of injuries to road users would seriously increase.

“We believe that the exit from the lane will not provide the required vision splays into Brook Street which during peak times of the day is subject to substantial traffic, including heavy goods vehicles.”

Stuart Cook said the development would put more pressure on services such as GPs, schools and buses.

He added: “It would be a tragedy if these trees are cut down as they add to the serene and pleasant surroundings. Red kites have been seen in the area and are possibly nesting in these trees.”

Jon and Margaret Barton said: “We believe that inadequate access to the development creates serious traffic hazards and safety issues. We share the concerns of many in Watlington that driving a substantial asphalted road from Brook Street to the development will damage and eventually destroy an iconic avenue of trees.

“The key issue for us is the dangerous exit from the Ingham House drive on to the narrowest section of the street, where the width of the adjacent choke-point is only 4.7m.

“Worse, for any motorist exiting the Ingham House drive, the protruding house wall of number 44 seriously limits the view east towards the Couching Street junction. We fear future accidents on a dangerous section of road.

“The elegant avenue of tall, mature trees linking Brook Street with Ingham House garden is one of the most-loved environmental glories of Watlington.

“The trees are an intrinsic part of the conservation area. They are visible from as far away as Watlington Hill. The future of this avenue is at very serious risk if these proposals go ahead. To lose such a cherished natural feature in the middle of a conservation area would be a tragedy for the people of Watlington.

“It is a pity that no affordable or social housing is included. The priority in housing must be given to creating a balanced, diverse community in Watlington and preventing it becoming just a dormitory town for the privileged and wealthy.”

James Clarke, who lives in Gorwell, said: “The impact of this will be to further slow traffic movement and therefore increase pollution levels. The access road is virtually opposite that of Chestnut Place, creating the likelihood of conflict when vehicles from both roads are seeking to join Brook Street simultaneously.”

Phil Holdship, of Lilacs Place, added: “As an immediate neighbour to the site of the proposed development, I am of the view it will have a serious impact on our standard of living.

“The planned positioning of the new homes, especially the two two-bedroom properties, would significantly impose on our privacy.

“It can be seen from the plans that many of the plots look to have reasonably sized gardens. However, I am concerned about the lack of public space and available on-road parking for visitors.”

Mr Holdship said the site was within the Watlington conservation area and that the grounds were a thriving habitat for many protected and endangered species, including bats, bees, green woodpeckers, red kites, barn owls and buzzards.

“Most of the current scrappy, senile orchard trees are also home to many of these creatures. The loss of these trees would severely threaten the survival of this fragile ecosystem,” he said.

Mr Facy did not respond to a request for comment.

South Oxfordshire District Council will make a final decision by June 30.

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