Sunday, 05 July 2020
THE main road through Shiplake is to be partly shut until the end of February.
Contractors for Taylor Wimpey, which is to build 95 homes at Thames Farm, off the A4155 Reading Road, have begun altering the layout of the road to allow access to the site.
They are widening the western side of the road near the entrance to the Regency Place development and installing a traffic island for drivers turning into it from Henley.
They will also install street lights along the verge as they were required to do when the scheme was awarded planning permission in March last year.
Work started on the section between Bolney Lane and Station Road on Monday last week and is expected to last until February 28 with a three-week shutdown over the Christmas period. One lane at a time will be closed and traffic will be controlled using temporary lights. A number of utility providers, including Thames Water, will be connecting their supplies to the site during this period.
The development of Thames Farm was opposed by villagers and Shiplake Parish Council as well as South Oxfordshire District Council, the planning authority, which rejected two applications for 110 and then 95 homes by the landowner Claire Engbers.
Mrs Engbers appealed and was initially unsuccessful but she escalated her battle to the High Court, which ruled the planning inspector’s grounds for rejecting the application were invalid.
A second inspector gave the go-ahead for the smaller development in August 2017. The district council sought a judicial review of this decision but gave up seven months later after exhausting all its legal options.
The developer says it worked with Oxfordshire County Council, the highways authority, to develop a traffic management plan which will minimise delays as much as possible.
In a letter to Shiplake residents, it says it sincerely apologises for the inconvenience and provides a phone number for anyone with queries to contact.
Councillor David Bartholomew, who represents Shiplake on Oxfordshire County Council. said: “These roadworks are just another unfortunate consequence of the application being approved despite the community fighting against it.
“A variety of changes are needed to the access arrangements as part of the planning conditions and clearly the utilities need to be connected, which the county council has no control over.
“The inconvenience is lamentable but unavoidable and we are going to have to put up with it.
“Given that planning permission was granted, the work does need to be carried out and to an appropriately high standard.”
Thames Farm, a former poultry farm, comprises 14 acres of land that lies just inside Harpsden parish.
It is immediately south of the former Wyevale garden centre, where permission has been granted for 40 homes.
Last month a planning inspector also gave permission for an “extra care” facility for the elderly comprising 65 flats on a field east of Reading Road about a mile to the south.
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