Monday, 23 September 2019

Council withdraws support for house over trees threat

PLANS for a new four-bedroom house in Sonning Common have lost the support of the parish council because two protected trees would have to be felled.

Developer Gareth Bertram is seeking planning permission to build a two-storey property in the garden of a house near the junction of Kennylands Road and Wood Lane.

Parish councillors had initially supported his application but changed their minds after Matt Gulliford, a forestry officer at South Oxfordshire District Council, revealed the development would encroach upon the root protection areas of a beech and lime tree.

He said the trees have high amenity value because they are on an open corner plot and are the subject of a tree preservation order.

Mr Gulliford said: “The excavation required to construct the dwelling and the associated service and drainage infrastructure would lead to the foreseeable decline of these high-quality protected trees.”

Neighbour Jon Gibson-Skinner, of Kennylands Road, urged the parish council to reconsider its original position. He said: “I saw that the forestry officer had stated that the trees on the border of this property would certainly die if a new house is built in the garden.”

Residents also posted objections on the SoCo Network, a village Facebook page.

Gill Harris said: “It did cross my mind what a shame it would be if these beautiful trees were felled or damaged. Developers appear too often to get away with causing irreparable damage.”

Julia Wickham responded: “Couldn’t agree more. This property with its beautiful trees is a real asset to the area and should be protected and preserved.”

Parish clerk Philip Collings said the application did not state that the trees would be at risk.

He said: “We have received Mr Gulliford’s report objecting to the development and the storm of objections on social media. These trees form an important part of our village landscape and street scene.

“In light of that new information, we wholeheartedly withdraw our support for this application.”

The district council will make the final decision.

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