Monday, 29 November 2021

House plan at former chalk pit

A HOUSE could be built in a former chalk pit near Watlington.

Geoffrey Copas wants to construct the property at Lys Mill Farm at the top of Cobditch Hill as well as turn
35 acres of arable farmland into a wildflower and grass meadow.

The two-storey house would have one storey above ground level.

A planning statement by Duncan Gibson Consultancy says the house would reflect the highest standards in architecture and help to raise standards of design in the surrounding rural area.

It added: “The applicant’s mission and vision is to demonstrate how wildlife and mankind can successfully co-habit Cobditch Hill without being detrimental to each other.

“The house would appear cut into the landscape, the same way the existing chalk quarry pit had left its mark on the hill. The dwelling emerges from the landscape as if it ‘grew’ on site.”

Watlington Parish Council supports the application.

It said: “The innovative design of this house and the use of sustainable technologies to enable it to mitigate its impact on both the landscape and the environment is an exemplar of good design in a time of climate change.

“The rewilding of arable land is also to be commended at a time when natural wildflower meadows continue to disappear.”

However, councillors said they were concerned about potential for overdevelopment of the site in the future and the continued maintenance of the rewilded area.

To ensure that no further development is possible, the council suggested all permitted development rights must be withdrawn and the maintenance of the wildflower meadow in perpetuity must be enforced as a condition.

The Britwell Salome parish meeting objected to the application, saying that the development would be detrimental to the landscape of the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

It added: “The proposed rewilding of a 35-acre site within farmland should not necessitate the intrusion of a new dwelling on elevated landscape. Being half buried and attempting to be less intrusive is not the test in an AONB.

“The proposed house may have a degree of innovation and architectural merit but would do nothing to enhance its immediate surroundings and would most certainly be detrimental to the defining characteristics of the local area.”

Trevor Hannon, who lives in nearby Castle Hill, claimed the new house would “effectively destroy the treasured rural landscape”.

He said: “We fear that we would end up with a similar situation with the development at the top of Britwell Hill, originally know as West Cottage, where we are subjected to ‘illuminations’ most evenings when the floodlights are still on at 2am several times a week.”

Matthew Newton, of Coopers Farmhouse in Britwell Salome, said: “We believe this risks overdevelopment of a rural area and the creeping extension of the border of the built-up area of Watlington into the surrounding countryside.”

The district council is due to make a decision on the application by November 11.

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