Tuesday, 22 January 2019

Developer fails on landscaping for new homes

A DEVELOPER has been accused of neglecting its landscaping commitments at a new housing estate in Sonning Common.

It comes as Bewley Homes nears completion of the 65 homes at Lea Meadow, next to the Herb Farm off Peppard Road.

Trees that were planted across the 3.7-hectare site to help soften the development into the landscape died during the hot summer and other plant screening has not yet been carried out.   

Sonning Common Parish Council contacted the company about the “unsightly” surroundings and asked for more to be done but has not received a reply.

In a letter to this week’s Henley Standard, Councillor Tom Fort said: “The development is almost complete and residents in the vicinity, who have had a great deal to endure in terms of noise and disruption during construction, have been appalled by the apparent unwillingness of the developer to fulfil its commitments on landscaping.

“Trees were planted in the hot summer and left to die, hardcore and waste was dumped in unsightly heaps and no proper screening has been provided along the footpath out on to Kennylands Road.” Councillor Fort said the council’s request to Bewley to make improvements had been ignored, adding: “The reputation of Bewley in Sonning Common has been badly tarnished by this episode.”

Planning permission for the development was granted by South Oxfordshire District Council in 2016 despite opposition from the parish council and residents. Landscape planting was a condition of consent.

Councillor Leigh Rawlins, who chairs the council’s planning committee, said Bewley had failed to abide by this condition.

He said: “The commitments they made have not been delivered yet.

“The right levels of planting was not done and nor has the screen that was supposed to be in place to prevent passers-by from peering into the gardens of elderly residents’ retirement homes backing on to Essex Way. Generally speaking, they are lamentably short of the design scheme they are supposed to have implemented.”

Since 2009, Lea Meadow has been the subject of six applications for development ranging from 55 houses to 105.  Bewley Homes’ application was given consent in July 2016, two months before the Sonning Common neighbourhood development plan was approved in a referendum.

The site was recommended for 60 homes in the document.

The development comprises a range of homes from one-bedroom units to five-bedroom houses, 40 per cent of which are “affordable”, in line with district council policy.

Bewley Homes said that the landscaping was being carried out by an external contractor and confirmed the work had been affected by the hot weather.

A spokeswoman said the company was aware more needed to be done and that it would make sure it was.

She said: “We are aware there will be outstanding landscaping.

“We have our landscape architect going in and checking the work the external contractor has done so far.”

• In January last year, builders caused a power cut in the village while creating the foundations for homes at Lea Meadow. Some households in Kennylands Road had to rely on a generator for three days before the power was restored.

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