Friday, 06 August 2021

Village fears parking chaos if car showroom becomes new homes

RESIDENTS and councillors have again opposed plans to build homes on the site of a Wargrave car showroom.

A developer has bought the land in High Street, which currently accommodates Wargrave Village Car Sales as well as a neighbouring MOT centre and a house.

Oraclemarker wants to close the businesses and build 10 homes with parking space and gardens.

A previous application for 11 homes was withdrawn earlier this year after planning officers recommended a reduction in both the number of homes and parking spaces.

Oraclemarker wants to build six two-bedroom houses, two two-
bedroom flats and two three-
bedroom duplex properties.

Eight of the properties would be in a terrace at the front of the site with the other two to the rear where the house is now. There would be access at both sides.

The changes from the previous application also include retaining a boundary wall on the site and increasing the size of the gardens. A meeting of Wargrave Parish Council last week heard the applicant Russell Edwards.

He said: “During the previous application the borough council confirmed in policy terms it had no objection to the development and that parking and access were satisfactory.

“The withdrawal was due to the officers having concerns about the layout of the scheme which could be addressed by revisiting the application. In light of the changes, it’s anticipated that officers will approve this and planning permission will be granted.”

But residents opposed to the scheme are still unhappy.

Tina Blick, of Wargrave Hill, said there were too many homes planned for the site and the development would cause additional traffic at the site entrances, one of which is close to a bus stop.

Fran Woodard, also of Wargrave Hill, she wasn’t opposed to the development but was concerned about the increase in traffic.

She said: “The high street already has negligible parking, with many houses without parking, and as a result Wargrave Hill has become an overflow.

“The hill is often dangerously blocked and contains no footpath. We have raised the issue with the council several times before and asked for yellow lines but with no success.

“Wargrave is full of narrow roads and there are already many properties with inadequate or no parking.”

Trustees at the neighbouring Woodclyffe almshouses say they still have concerns.

A spokesman said: “We have no objection to the nature of the development but we are seriously concerned about access to plots nine and 10 and the parking allocation there has not changed. There are four parking spaces there, one for the disabled, and we don’t know how that is going to be policed.

“There is no provision for visitors assuming those spaces are taken up and no space to turn around.

“Visitors are either going to back into the entrance of the almshouses or try to park temporarily in the almshouses.

“There is no wish to have the almshouses as a gated community but visitor parking will either take the car park there or go down to Wargrave Hill.

“The almshouses residents require unimpeded access for their own purposes and for emergency vehicles.”

Councillors said they were worried about an increase in traffic and the loss of a business — Pete Palmer, who runs the car showroom, has been given notice to leave.

Councillor Terry Cattermole said: “I feel it’s overdevelopment in the conservation area. Because we’ve lost so many amenities in the village this is one we should be trying to retain.” Councillor Philip Davies said: “I don’t think there’s the ability to absorb any additional parking. Access to the back of the properties is difficult and I can’t see it working.”

Councillor Mike Etwell said: “Looking at the High Street end I don’t think concerns about the bus stop and width of the pavement have been addressed. In fact, that landscaping could be making it worse.

“Wargrave Hill is already not an easy two-way road for entry and access.”

Councillor John Halsall said: “I do think it’s somewhat overdevelopment. The lack of parking space and access is going to create a spillover on to Wargrave Hill and High Street.

“The reality is that with 10 or 11 houses you are going to be looking at 20 cars. Wargrave Hill is becoming a constant parking place.”

Wokingham Borough Council will make a decision next month.

l What do you think? Write to: Letters, Henley Standard, Caxton House, 1 Station Road, Henley, RG9 1AD or email

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