Tuesday, 01 December 2020

Regatta loses appeal over demolition of old cottage

AN appeal by Henley Royal Regatta against a decision to prevent the demolition of a historic cottage has been dismissed

AN appeal by Henley Royal Regatta against a decision to prevent the demolition of a historic cottage has been dismissed by a planning inspector.

The trustees for the regatta stewards wanted to knock down Barn Cottage in Remenham Lane, Remenham, which was built in the 1880s and has become rundown.

Plans submitted to Wokingham Borough Council proposed replacing it with a four-bedroom detached house and a garage with three bays.

Remenham Parish Council and a number of residents objected and the borough council turned down the application, saying it would cause “unacceptable harm” without providing any public benefit. Mark Cupit, head of development management, said the development would have an “urbanising impact which would be harmful to the character and the openness of the green belt”.

He added: “The demolition would result in the loss of a non-designated heritage asset which is of local significance and is considered to make a positive contribution to the character of the area and the adjoining conservation area.”

Planning inspector Martin Seddon, who visited the site in March, upheld the decision, saying the proposal would harm the visual amenity of the green belt and would conflict with council’s core strategy, which seeks to maintain or enhance the quality of the environment.

His report says: “The appellants contend that the proposal would be appropriate development in the green belt but have not demonstrated that there are any very special circumstances.

“The harm from the proposed replacement dwelling by reason of inappropriateness, harm to the visual amenity of the green belt and other harm through the loss of a locally significant building is not clearly outweighed by any other considerations so as to amount to the very special circumstances necessary to justify the development.

“The proposed dwelling and its detached garage would be set further back from Remenham Lane compared with Barn Cottage. The dwelling would have a greater height and prominence, partly as a result of raising the ground level to reduce flood risk. This would give rise to some limited increased loss of openness in this green belt location.”

The cottage, which was the home of the late Teddy Selwyn, is thought to have been the clubhouse or groundsman’s cottage on the site of the original Henley Cricket Club, formed in the 19th century.

Mr Seddon said: “The name of the building was used in the creation of the Barn Cottage Boat Club, which featured in post-war rowing in the UK.

“The borough council’s conservation officer considers that its historic and aesthetic value makes it a heritage asset of considerable local importance.”

The cottage, which is semi-derelict after being empty for almost two years, was declared unfit for human occupation in April last year. Mr Seddon said: “Representations in support of the proposal frequently refer to the improvement that would result from the proposal because of the neglected state of Barn Cottage.

“However, that would not be an overriding reason that would justify the appeal proposal.”

John Halsall, chairman of Remenham Parish Council and a Wokingham borough councillor, said: “While this is important for the preservation of Barn Cottage, it is hugely important as a decision supporting the green belt policies of the borough and, most importantly, Remenham.

“The parish council and the borough are very supportive of bringing the building back into use and would be pleased to work with Henley Royal Regatta to find a solution.”

The regatta declined to comment.

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