Saturday, 16 December 2017

Empty shop could become flats

PLANS to turn a former antiques shop in Wargrave into four homes have been backed by parish councillors.

Wargrave Antiques in High Street closed last year when owner John Connell retired due to ill-health.

After failing to sell the property as a business premises, his family now want to convert it into flats.

They say there was no interest in the shop, despite them lowering the price.

They have applied to Wokingham Borough Council for change of use permission, saying there is more demand for residential property in Wargrave than retail space.

The building would be extended at the back to provide three one-bedroom flats and a one-bedroom studio. The shop facade would be retained.

Neighbours have raised concerns about being overlooked from the flats and the lack of parking in High Street.

They also say the residents of the flats could be disturbed by nearby businesses, including a dentist and an upholstery shop.

Parish councillors said they had no problems with the application as Mr Connell’s family had tried to sell the business before making the application. Councillor Michael Etwell said: “It’s good to see a proposal to tidy it up and I can understand why attempts to sell the property proved difficult.”

Councillors also supported plans for a new five-bedroom home in High Street.

Martin Marston wants to demolish Silvaplana to create a two-storey house with a rear basement which would be similar in size to nearby properties including the neighbouring Wargrave Hall.

He says the existing house dates back to the Sixties and has no historic or other interest.

Councillor Marion Pope said: “The site definitely needs something done. This design is more in keeping with the homes in the village than what’s there at the moment.” Councillor Philip Davies said: “I’m not sure about the size as it is an extremely large building. It is, however, a large plot.”

Meanwhile, a gypsy family have appealed after their plans for a mini-traveller site near Wargrave were refused.

James Smith applied for retrospective permission for a plot of land in Wargrave Road, near the A4, where he already keeps a stationary caravan.

The land was historically used as a paddock but Mr Smith wanted his Romany gypsy family to be able to use it when not travelling in their second touring caravan, which would also be parked at the site.

He said he wanted a “stable” place to live where the family could access healthcare and education for their children.

Residents opposed the application, saying land was intended to be used as a paddock and having a large caravan there could obscure views of traffic on a roundabout on Bath Road.

Wokingham Borough Council refused to grant planning permission, saying the development would harm the green belt and would cause “unacceptable impacts” on the character of the area.

The council also said it had already identified other land for use by travellers.

Enforcement action had begun to remove the family from the site before Mr Smith appealed.

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