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Farm appeals after rejection of 110 homes
Published 09/06/14



THE owner of a farm has revived her bid to develop land for housing.

Claire Engbers is appealing against South Oxfordshire District Council’s decision to refuse permission for 110 homes at Thames Farm, near Shiplake.

The council said the scheme would be inappropriate encroachment into the countryside and raised concerns about road safety, loss of trees, the impact on wildlife, drainage and the additional strain on local services.

Shiplake and Harpsden parish councils and Oxfordshire County Council all objected.

In her appeal to the Planning Inspectorate, Mrs Engbers says the reasons for refusal are either invalid or no longer apply.


James Wood, principal surveyor for her agent DPDS Consulting, said the district council’s plans for new housing would not meet demand.

It was planning for 547 new homes per year until 2027 whereas the latest government targets were for up to 825 a year.

Mr Wood said: “Given the clear evidence that the core strategy is not delivering an adequate level of housing, it is the appellant’s view that the presumption in favour of sustainable development should apply.”

He said Mrs Engbers had spoken to the county council, the highways authority, about improving access to the site and she had agreed to provide a new main entrance on Reading Road with wide visibility splays on either side.

There would also be new footpaths with access to Shiplake and on to Upper Bolney Road to the north.

She had also agreed to move the houses further towards the centre of the site so that new trees could be planted around the perimeter.

Mrs Engbers would contribute towards the cost of upgrading the public footpath leading to Northfield Avenue and to improving public transport and community infrastructure, such as schools.

Mr Wood also pointed out that the county council had objected on the grounds that the new homes would put too much pressure on places at Shiplake Primary School but had since agreed there were enough buses to ferry pupils to schools in Henley.

Tudor Taylor, chairman of Shiplake Parish Council, pointed out that the site was rejected for the draft Henley and Harpsden joint neighbourhood plan while a survey of Shiplake residents conducted by the parish council last year showed almost three-quarters opposed development at Thames Farm.

Councillor Taylor said: “It has clearly been demonstrated that building on this greenfield site is unwanted and unnecessary. I really do not know how else communities can show that they do not want an essential piece of their landscape developed. It challenges the very notion of logical planning and local decision making.”

The parish council has appointed a planning consultant to prepare the case for refusing the appeal.

Cllr Taylor said: “It is very sad that we have to use parish funds that could be used for other things to fight this. I would urge the applicant to think again and to act in the interests of the broader community.”

Kester George, chairman of Harpsden Parish Council said: “The case against development is so clear. We are adamantly opposed to this appeal and think it is frankly out of order as it cuts across both the core strategy and the joint neighbourhood plan.”

The Planning Inspectorate is accepting comments until June 23. It has not set a date for a decision yet.

Mrs Engbers did not respond to requests for comment.

Published 09/06/14

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