Saturday, 18 August 2018

Developer returns with new plan for 45 homes on field

PLANS to develop a field in Woodcote that wasn’t earmarked for housing in the village’s neighbourhood plan have resurfaced.

Reading developer T A Fisher is seeking outline planning permission to build up to 45 homes on the 3.4-
hectare site south of Bridle Path, behind houses there and in Goring Road.

A year ago, South Oxfordshire District Council refused the company’s bid to build up to 65 units on the site land on the grounds that it isn’t in the neighbourhood plan, which passed a referendum in 2014.

It also said the impact on views of the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty outweighed the benefits of extra houses and there were no “exceptional circumstances” to allow approval.

T A Fisher says its latest proposal is designed to address those concerns by reducing the number of proposed homes.

It says 18 out of the 45 would be “affordable”, thus meeting the council’s insistence that developments include a 40 per cent affordable element. These would include a number of bungalows aimed at the over-55s.

The scheme would comprise 11 properties with one bedroom, 15 with two bedrooms, 12 with three and seven with four or more.

There would be 103 parking spaces, more than two per dwelling, plus landscaping and a play area.

The exact layout would be agreed later as this application only seeks to approve the principle of development. The company hopes to begin construction in 2019.

Julian Pacey, head of land and planning at T A Fisher, said: “The site is well-related to the existing pattern of development and is both physically and visually well-contained.

“Development will provide the opportunity to enhance the southern edge of the village and provide a significant area of accessible public open space.

“We do not construct standard house types. Our architects design homes specifically for each site to reflect the location and existing architecture.”

Woodcote Parish Council is yet to discuss the application but it has recommended the refusal of two others which don’t comply with the neighbourhood plan.

Mr C Stanley wants to put 16 mobile homes at the old reservoir off Greenmore, which is earmarked for 20 ordinary dwellings.

Woodcote Properties and Mrs D Butcher want to build 23 homes on a field at the south-western end of Wood Lane, which is not included in the plan.

Neither of these has yet been determined by the district council.

Parish council vice-chairman Geoff Botting said: “T A Fisher are pushing the boundaries of the neighbourhood plan and are very persistent.

“I’m surprised that they’re continuing considering the robust refusal they got from the district council previously. This plan doesn’t seem all that different from the last one.”

The district council hopes to make a decision on the application by the end of next month.

Meanwhile, up to five additional sites within Woodcote could be earmarked for new homes in a revised version of the neighbourhood plan.

The parish council and a team of volunteers are producing a new version of the document to bring it into line with the district council’s new local plan, which will set housing targets until 2033.

The sites, which have been put forward by landowners, will be revealed at a public exhibition at the village hall on February 23 (2.30pm to 5pm and 7pm to 9pm) and February 24 (10am to 3pm).

Councillor Botting, chairman of the neighbourhood plan steering group, said: “We’ve developed a series of evaluation criteria and found five sites that meet them so now we want to know what people think.

“We’re not yet in a position to reveal them as we need to be sure the landowners are definitely putting them forward but people will be able to attend one of those sessions and have their say.”

The sites in the existing plan are Chiltern Rise Cottage and its grounds (up to 24 homes) and Woodcote Garden Centre (up to nine), both off Reading Road, the Greenmore reservoir (up to 20), the old bus depot in Long Toll (up to 14), the smallholding in Wood Lane (up to nine), a field next to Bouchier Fencing in Goring Road (reserve for up to 20) and land north of Chiltern Rise Cottage (reserve for up to 16).

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