Wednesday, 06 July 2022

Plans for block of flats in cul-de-sac refused on appeal

Plans for block of flats in cul-de-sac refused on appeal

A DEVELOPER has lost an appeal over plans to build a block of five flats in a cul-de-sac in Henley.

Ray Hudson wanted a three-storey building with one one-bedroom flat, two flats with two bedrooms and another two with three bedrooms in Harcourt Close.

He was refused permission by South Oxfordshire District Council, the planning authority, in November on the grounds that it would be overdevelopment of the site and out of keeping with the character and appearance of its surroundings.

Mr Hudson appealed but a planning inspector has now upheld the council’s decision.

The block of flats would have been close to a park and a small area of woodland and the inspector said the main issues were its impact on the character and appearance of the area and on the quality of life in terms of noise, disturbance and the privacy of neighbours.

He said that despite the building being set back on the site, it would be at odds with the scale, height and form of the nearest houses. He was also concerned about the impact of a large parking and turning area at the front.

The inspector said limited landscaping proposals would not offset the harm to the leafy character of the area.

However, he did not agree that the development’s communal area would result in an unacceptable level of disturbance or loss of privacy to neighbours.

Mr Hudson, who already has permission for a three-bedroom house on the site, had argued the new plans made better use of the land and would contribute to local housing stock.

But the inspector concluded: “While I attribute these benefits modest weight in the overall planning balance, they do not outweigh the harm to the character and appearance of the area.”

Mr Hudson had previously been refused permission in June last year.

That application had been recommended for approval by council officers but residents and town councillors spoke against it.

Stefan Gawrysiak, who is a town and district councillor, said the block would be “gross overdevelopment” of the site.

The council’s decision notice said the occupiers of the flats would suffer a “substandard quality of living environment” due to the lack of “private outdoor amenity space” and shading of both internal and external living spaces.

In his new application, Mr Hudson said he had sought professional advice and was advised that there was “a strong likelihood” that he would win an appeal.

The inspector’s decision was welcomed by the Henley Society, a conservation group which had objected to the application on a several grounds including over-development, overlooking near neighbours, increased traffic and the difficulty of access for emergency vehicles.

Society chairman Geoff Luckett said the district council had been minded to approve the plans despite them falling foul of a number of its own planning guidelines.

But the society wrote to all members of the planning committee listing its objections and requested a site visit by the councillors.

Mr Luckett said: “The society had the support of Henley Town Council and a number of the site’s near-neighbours.

“The site visit took place and at a subsequent meeting the councillors voted to refuse the application.

“We draw attention to this, not to claim any great success, but to illustrate that people power, properly harnessed, can and does have an effect, as has been proved in a number of planning applications over recent months.

“We encourage all residents to contribute where an application concerns them. It is not a waste of time.”

He said the society’s planning committee reviewed about 300 planning applications every year before the council ruled on them and most were “merely nodded through”.

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