Friday, 04 December 2020

Parish councils to resist plans for 110 homes

COUNCILLORS have refused to back plans for more than 100 homes on land between Henley and Shiplake.

COUNCILLORS have refused to back plans for more than 100 homes on land between Henley and Shiplake.

Members of Harpsden and Shiplake parish councils discussed a proposal to develop Thames Farm at a meeting on Monday.

Claire Engbers, who owns the 15-acre site off Reading Road, is to submit an outline planning application for up to 110 homes next Monday.

She says the development would help Henley meet its target of 400 new homes by 2027 set out in South Oxfordshire District Council’s core strategy.

Kester George, who chairs Harpsden Parish Council, told the meeting: “So far my council has received nothing but objections from local residents due to the density of what is proposed and there clearly would be infrastructure issues.

“The density of houses would be out of line with the area. It is part of the Thames Valley that is green and separates the two communities of Shiplake and Harspden.”

“What we have done in the past is opposed each and every application for that site and I can’t see why the majority would go against that.”

Tudor Taylor, who chairs Shiplake Parish Council, said his council would be “strongly opposed” to the application. “It is unbelievable that we would consider building houses on green fields,” he said. “It is iniquitous to the village of Shiplake as it would also worry me that we could become a large village.

“There are various other developers on our doorstep trying to develop which could destroy the very nature of Shiplake and would mean we had continuous housing on the way to Henley.”

Cllr Taylor said a recent community plan survey showed 86 per cent of residents were against development on the edge of the village.

Councillor Michael Leonard, who represents Shiplake on the district council, said: “We are lucky in that we have a core strategy which has been agreed by inspectors and accepted. That would put us in a strong position when the application comes.

“Shiplake is a small village and small villages are not going to have a housing allocation and it is a green field site.”

Harpsden councillor Malcolm Plews warned that building on Thames Farm would encourage other developers and pointed out that Aida Hersham, who owns Fawley Court, had bought the former Shiplake garden centre which adjoins the site.

He said: “Mrs Hersham has written to us say it is her intention to put in an application. I worked it out and she could probably get 60 houses on there, so we are not just talking about 110 at Thames Farm, we are opening the gates to 170.”

Barry Wood, who lives in Blandy Road, Henley, and chairs housing pressure group UNITED! said some residents supported the plans. “It is not 100 per cent one way and nought per cent the other,” he said.

Two weeks ago, Mrs Engbers, told the Henley Standard that Thames Farm was ideal for development.

She said: “Henley needs to find sites for 400 to 450 houses but is constrained by the Henley conservation area, the AONB, the river crossing, flood plain and a wealth of listed buildings. It is a town with a medieval street pattern that suffers from congestion and high levels of air pollution whereas Thames Farm is located around 2km from the centre of town.”

She said the site was sustainable because it is on a bus route, within walking distance of Shiplake station and has access to the A4155 as well as being screened by trees.

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