Sunday, 06 December 2020

Neighbours fear traffic growth from new homes

PLANS for nine homes in Sonning Common have been recommended for approval by parish councillors despite being criticised by neighbours.

Knole Homes, of Bourne End, wants to develop a 0.34- hectare plot of land off Hazel Gardens, which would involve creating a new entrance and demolishing a house currently accessed from Woodlands Road.

About 20 residents attended a meeting of Sonning Common Parish Council’s planning committee to voice their opposition to the application.

But the committee voted unanimously to support the developer, saying there were no planning reasons to object.

Dr Lyn Smurthwaite, who lives in Hazel Gardens, said:“The amount of traffic in the street is basically going to double. Particularly there will be a problem with cars coming in and out of Woodlands Road. Hazel Gardens is a quiet, leafy and residential area — that is why we moved there.”

Neighbour Will Beadsmore said protected trees would have to be cut down to create the new access road.

“I object very strongly to this application,” he said. “Our development is characterised by four-bedroom properties with double garages. I don’t think these houses are in any way compatible with the existing development.

“As previously said, it will increase traffic by 50 per cent and there will be an increase in traffic through our very quiet road. It has the potential to destroy the character of what is otherwise a quiet road.”

The development would comprise four two-bedroom houses, three with three bedrooms and two with four as well as 24 parking spaces.

Duncan Gibson, planning consultant for the developer, said: “The district council requires us to have a mix. The density of the housing is 26.5 dwellings per hectare and the council’s target is 25. The site has been designed to have no overlooking whatsoever. The application was adjusted after comments during the pre-application process.

“Any protected trees removed will be replaced. Some specimen trees do need to come down to create the access. With whatever gaps and any requests for screening or hedges, we are happy to make provision for it in the right places.”

He said the new access road would have no dedicated footpath and would be a “shared surface” between cars and pedestrians.

Council chairwoman Carole Lewis said: “I am not sure there are any strong planning reasons to refuse this. It’s very difficult as we have to show the district council evidence why.

“The planning officer did recommend seven dwellings at the pre-application stage despite it now being nine.”

Councillor Tom Fort said: “The issue here is if the site is suitable for development or not. If it’s acceptable and it’s suitable for development then the character of Hazel Gardens is irrelevant.

“As far as I can see this is suitable and the proposal exploits the available space in a sensible way.”

Councillor Douglas Kedge said: “Twenty-four extra cars in that area is an inconvenience for present residents and this development will have an impact on those areas.

“I would feel the same as the residents of Hazel Gardens but, quite frankly, in planning regulations this is permissible.”

Councillor Leigh Rawlins said he was not opposed to the development in principle.

South Oxfordshire District Council, the planning authority, will make a decision by December 18.

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