Wednesday, 23 January 2019

Plans for retirement ‘village’ refused permission again

Thamesfield care home in Henley, also owned by Retirement Villages Group

PLANS to build a large complex of “extra care” flats and cottages for the elderly near Shiplake have been turned down for the second time.

Retirement Villages Group has been refused outline planning permission for up to 65 units on a field opposite the Haileywood Farm industrial estate off Reading Road.

It wanted to build 11 blocks with a total of 50 two-bedroom flats plus 15 double-bed bungalows as well as a clubhouse, gym, meeting room, shop, hair salon, bar and living and dining rooms, offices and 77 parking spaces,

South Oxfordshire District Council, the planning authority, said the development would be too large and would erode the green gap between Lower Shiplake and Shiplake Cross.

It said residents wouldn’t have easy access to shops and services, especially on foot, because of the rural location and that visibility at the proposed entrance was poor and potentially dangerous.

The council also criticised the lack of “affordable” housing or contributions towards infrastructure and said a more varied mix of housing was needed.

The application was smaller than the company’s original plan for the site, which comprised 66 flats or houses in blocks of up to three storeys as well as a 40-bed, two-storey care home with communal leisure facilities and a garden.

This was rejected on similar grounds last year.

The developer, which is working with landowner Harjot Bal, from Woodley, argued that the latest scheme would have less of an impact as no building would be taller than two storeys and the site would be screened by a brick and flint wall.

It said there was a growing shortage of care places which meet modern standards and the complex would put more homes on the market as people would sell up before moving in.

The council’s officers recommended permission was refused, saying the drawbacks outweighed the benefits.

They said the scheme would create “a closed community that would be isolated from the village and not integrated with it [and] would represent a sizable development that focuses only on elderly residents”.

They continued: “Its scale and layout would have an urban character that would be inconsistent with the prevailing pattern of development in the surrounding area.”

The officers also said Shiplake should only have smaller “infill” developments due to its “limited” range of services.

Shiplake and Harpsden parish councils objected to the application along with the Chiltern Society and 63 neighbours.

Last month, the district council gave permission for 40 houses and some commercial units at the former Wyevale garden centre, also off Reading Road, about half a mile to the north.

This is next door to Thames Farm, whose owner was given outline planning permission for 95 homes on appeal. Both these schemes were opposed by the parish council.

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