Saturday, 27 February 2021

£30,000 legal bill to fight appeal

£30,000 legal bill to fight appeal

SONNING Common Parish Council is to spend £30,000 on legal representation at an inquiry into a development it opposes.

Inspired Villages  appealed after being refused planning permission for a new retirement village in Blounts Court Road, opposite the Johnson Matthey Technology Centre.

Its application was rejected by South Oxfordshire District Council, the planning authority, in June.

The appeal will be heard at an inquiry in front of a planning inspector in April. 

The parish council opposes the plans on the grounds that the development would be “excessive and inappropriate” and contrary to the village’s neighbourhood plan. 

Councillor Tom Fort, who chairs the neighbourhood plan revision working party, proposed hiring a consultant and barrister so the council could “fight... with all guns blazing”. 

The council agreed unanimously and will launch a crowdfunding page on its website. 

The consultant will be Emily Temple Planning, which represented the council in 2018 when it saw off an appeal by Gallagher Estates over plans for 95 homes in Kennylands Road.  The barrister will be chosen from the Cornerstone chamber used by the district council. 

Cllr Fort said: “If the appeal is successful, we will have a huge development in the most undesirable and unimaginable position.

“Without making dark predictions, it will have a severe impact on the revisions of the neighbourhood plan. It’s a huge challenge for the village and one I would like to see us fight.” 

Inspired Villages says the village would benefit as more than 25 per cent of residents are aged over 65, one of the highest proportions of elderly in any community in South Oxfordshire. 

The proposed development would have 40 “close care” flats and 110 assisted living flats, each with one or two bedrooms and a sitting room and kitchen, plus 165 parking spaces for residents and staff.

There would also be a restaurant, hairdresser, coffee shop, convenience store, library, reading room and communal space. 

Residents would have use of a swimming pool, spa, gym and treatment room and the pool would be available to the wider community and local schools. 

Cllr Fort says the working party is already considering the needs of the village’s elderly population.

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