Thursday, 03 December 2020

Stoke Row couple told to remove their mobile home

A COUPLE who “dropped” a mobile home into their garden into Stoke Row have been told by councillors to move

A COUPLE who “dropped” a mobile home into their garden into Stoke Row have been told by councillors to move it or remove it.

Graham and Sarah Whittaker installed the two-bedroom mobile home in their garden last year so that Mrs Whittaker’s mother — who was terminally ill — could move into it.

They were refused temporary planning permission to keep the mobile home for a maximum of two years due to its “inappropriate siting, design and external appearance” and the couple began considering submitting an appeal.

Mrs Whittaker’s mother died shortly afterwards and the Whittakers decided to submit a new application to use the building to provide additional accommodation to the existing house.

Planning officers from the district council had recommended the application for approval but councillors voted to reject the proposal at a committee meeting.

Catherine Hale, from Stoke Row parish council, urged councillors to refuse planning permission during the meeting.

She said: “The parameters seem to be widening all the time for this application. We believe that the applicant disregarded a lawful planning system in going ahead with the siting of this mobile home which suddenly appeared one day in the hedge and on the verge of the road running through Stoke Row.

“It was positioned almost as far as it could have been from the main house, close to the boundary hedge and visible from the road, four metres from the neighbours at Dogmore Cottage and in the heart of the village conservation area where we believe design is of the utmost importance.”

Rob Megson, acting on behalf of the Whittakers, said the building would be obscured by the recent planting of holly bushes around the house boundary. The applicants had also proposed re-painting the building’s terracotta roof tiles dark grey in order to reduce the impact on the surrounding area.

Mr Megson said: “There are very similar buildings dotted around the green itself, I can think of three examples in various residential curtilages that can be seen from the centre of the green.

“The building will only be used for residential purposes and it’s not proposed at this stage — and we will accept a condition protecting it —that it will be used for any other non-residential use.”

Sue Spencer, planning officer for the district council said: “The building is now much better screened and will be even more so once the planting has matured. In these circumstances, officers have concluded that the harm previously caused has been considerably reduced and that there is no longer sufficient reason to refuse planning permission.

“It is a temporary mobile home made of composite factory designed materials which we feel is out of character with the unique buildings that nestle around our village green in an area of outstanding natural beauty.”

But councillor Jeni Wood accused the applicant of having “no respect” for planning rules.

She said: “Stoke Row is a lovely village. It has a village green, it is a conservation area. The village itself is set in an area of outstanding natural beauty and the sort of mobile home he’s talking about would sit very nicely into a park for mobile homes, we have one in Henley and they are very smart.

“It is in a conservation area, it is not made of materials that sit well in a conservation area, it wasn’t moved when it was supposed to be moved.”

A meeting was held between Mr Megson and a district council planning officer last week and the council says the agent will need to decide whether to remove or relocate the home, or lodge an appeal.

Mr Megson said: “We did meet with the district council last week and the reasons for refusal and the decision notice has been issued and my client is reviewing all the options.”

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