Saturday, 28 November 2020

Neighbour’s bid for village orchard land turned down

PLANS to sell part of a community orchard in Peppard have been scrapped.

The parish council had been considering an offer for part of Carling’s Orchard, on the corner of Stoke Row Road and Wyfold Lane.

John Wilesmith, of Esther Carling Lane, wanted to buy 0.04 hectares of the land bordering his property to extend his garden.

Now the council has turned down the offer after a plea by two former members who said the land was gifted to Peppard for use by villagers in perpetuity.

The orchard was created as part of a housing development by Bryant Country Homes in the late Nineties.

It was gifted to the parish council, which then landscaped the area and added a path, gates, fences, hedging and trees. Edward Brooker, of Dove Lane, served on the council from 1994 to 2006 when the orchard was created.

Speaking at a council meeting last week, he said: “During the time I was a councillor the land was given to us as a public amenity as part of the housing development.

“The orchard has brilliant wild daffodils at the moment and that is due to its management over the last 20 years.

“It is there for all residents of the parish to enjoy in perpetuity and not for pieces to be sold off. I ask for this purchase application to be rejected.”

A previous bid to buy the same section of land was rejected in 2013. Oriel Emmett, of Peppard Common, who served on the council for 12 years, said she had feared the council wanted to sell the land to help pay for the extension and renovation of the village sports pavilion.

“I approve of what’s going to be done but this is not the way,” she said.

“I have to say the daffodils are the best we have ever had. I have never seen the orchard looking so beautiful.”

Geoff Pitcher, of Gallowstree Road, said a previous bid to buy the same piece of land was rejected in 2013 and read from a Henley Standard article at the time outlining the reasons for refusal.

He said: “There had been a community survey saying people wanted the land and that it was beneficial to the village. The council had raised its precept to help maintain it. As David Hammant, the chairman at the time, said, ‘[the sale] sets a dangerous precedent. Unless the rest of the community wants to sell it, I can’t see how we have the right to’.”

Other residents expressed concerns that the land could be used to create an access on to Wyfold Lane.

But Councillor Tony Rancombe said the council had always made it clear that if the sale went ahead the new owner would be barred from developing the land or creating an access.

Council chairman Simon Crouch said he had received correspondence from several parishioners opposed to the sale.

He added: “I think the feeling is quite clear and I feel the council’s view is going to be much the same as residents.”

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