Wednesday, 13 November 2019

Neighbours opposed to rebuild of rundown house

PLANS for a new house in Wargave high street have divided residents and the parish council.

Martin Marston wants to demolish Silvaplana and build a two-storey property in its place.

The existing property, which was separated from Holly Cottage in 1962, is the subject of a restrictive covenant, which says any development should preserve the enjoyment of the area for neighbours.

But the house is rundown and Mr Marston says it is poorly insulated.

He has submitted a new application to Wokingham Borough Council, the planning authority, having had a previous one rejected in July last year.

The council previously said the new property would be “overbearing” and “harmful” to neighbours.

Mr Marston has now amended the plans following advice from the council so that the house would be further away from the river and would no longer have a single-storey wing on one side. He says it would be in keeping with the character and appearance of the area. However, neighbours are still unhappy. Terry Grouk, who lives at the adjoining Wargrave Hall, said: “We are in favour of replacing Silvaplana with a new building as long as it maintains a similar footprint and abides by the restrictive covenant in force. The current application is clearly in breach of this covenant.

“We feel very strongly against this application. We are concerned that trees were removed without consent and have essentially paved the way for this application and the applicant is now benefiting from this.”

Michael Stubbs, of Ferry Lane, said: “The proposed dwelling would have a material impact on the area, which is a significant amenity for the local community and lies within a conservation zone.

“Building such a large property would significantly change the characteristics of the area. The stretch of river hosts the River Thames’s oldest regatta and developing the site in such a manner would radically alter the enjoyment of the river’s public space by local villagers.”

The Middle Thames branch of the River Thames Society has also objected.

Chairman John Skuse said: “The development is too large and overwhelms the site. It would destroy the view of the river from the land side.

“We are not reassured about the retention of trees on the site, as past experience would suggest trees will be vulnerable.”

Wargrave Parish Council decided not to object to the application after hearing from Neil Davies, a chartered town planner, representing Mr Marston.

Mr Davies said: “This revised submission has responded to all the points raised by the borough council.

“It is no longer of an excessive scale and the removal of the side wing will reduce the impact. The site will remain well secluded and is not located in the green belt.

“The existing property is not listed and the proposal will preserve the character and appearance of the conservation area.”

He added: “Restricted covenants are not a planning matter and cannot be considered as part of a planning process.”

Councillor Philip Davies said: “We objected to this last time because of bulk and mass for the size of the plot. I am not quite sure, but it is a considerable improvement from the previous design.

“Having addressed most of the issues that we raised, I can’t see any reasons to object.”

Councillor Marion Pope said: “The building is set way back from the road and it is not visible from High Street.

“You can’t actually see the building from the water and there are several other properties nearby that are quite substantial in size.

“The height is perhaps the only issue but it is a far more pleasing design and looking at other properties along the river it would not be out of place. It is a far better proposal than the previous one.”

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