Tuesday, 19 October 2021

Neighbours split over plans to build homes on commercial yard

PLANS to redevelop a commercial yard in Ewelme for housing have divided neighbours.

The application for three four-bedroom properties and nine parking spaces is the latest in a series involves Eyres Yard in Eyres Close, a residential cul-de-sac.

The owners already have outline planning permission for two homes on the land, which is currently used to store old caravans awaiting maintenance.

They also have permission to store up to 4,000 tonnes of topsoil and for the storage and distribution of other items.

The applicant’s planning consultant Frank Dixon, from Cholsey, says: “The principle of development should not be at issue.

“The only matter at issue is the number and size of dwellings to be provided.

“It is averred that residential use may be a more appropriate use in this village residential area.

“Without a satisfactory, viable residential solution for the site it will remain in use as a general open storage depot.

“At the time of writing, the site is used for the storage of caravans awaiting repair or refurbishment.”

An application to place up to five residential caravans on the land was dismissed on appeal in September.

Mr Dixon says this proposal was in response to the “angst” expressed by Ewelme Parish Council and residents at the lack of cheaper accommodation in the village, adding that the caravans would have provided “inexpensive and almost instantaneous accommodation”.

He says the houses now being proposed would be of a similar scale to the eight existing properties in Eyres Close and would be suited to the area.

Mr Dixon adds: “The visual intrusion of lawful storage on the appeal site of up to 4,000 tonnes of material or other items will most certainly not be less than that of five dwellings.

“The lawful unrestricted daily vehicle movements, particularly of very large HGVs, within a residential cul-de-sac are quite unlikely to be more acceptable than the normal pattern of movements of private motor cars associated with three detached dwellings.”

However, Paul and Susan Humphrey, who live in Eyres Close, believe the application should be refused by South Oxfordshire District Council, the planning authority.

The couple say: “The agent wishes to cram as many properties on this small site as is physically possible with little apparent consideration for the impact on the surrounding properties and local landscape.

“We accept the principle of development of two starter homes on this site as previously approved on appeal.

“However, we think that the whole site should be developed as a single entity and be in keeping with existing properties.”

David and Sue Pryce-Jones, also of Eyres Close, say: “This highly valued green space at this end of the village is now history.

“The developer is able to promote the site as prime building land and in the meantime use it as an industrial site with the veiled threat that this will be escalated if he does not get planning permission.”

But neighbours Jamie and Catrin Cuzen say: “We are pleased to finally see a reasonably sensible plan from this developer!”

Louise Jaggard and Tim Wilson, also of Eyres Lane, say: “We support the idea of fully utilising the site for domestic housing, removing the continued threat of this open space being used as a dump for derelict caravans or similar.”

Fellow resident Adam Lee says: “Unlike all the other planning applications for this small site, this particular proposal at least has the merit of possibly being in keeping with the rest of the houses in Eyres Close.”

However, he raises concerns about the impact of additional traffic and the effect on drainage and accuses the owners and agent of “increasingly odd behaviour”.

Mr Lee says: “The sheer number and variety of planning applications concerning this small site indicates that there is no clarity of purpose about what the owners are trying to achieve [and]... the flow of applications will continue.”

The parish council says it supports the application.

Planning officer Sharon Crawford is recommending that the plans are approved by the district council’s planning committee when it meets on Tuesday.

She says: “It is my view the proposal is acceptable because the principle of residential development has already been established.

“The site is large enough to accommodate three detached houses and the associated parking and garden areas.”

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