Sunday, 29 November 2020

Objections to fifth bid for new homes

A DEVELOPER has submitted a second bid to build homes in Sonning Common.

A DEVELOPER has submitted a second bid to build homes in Sonning Common.

Bewley Homes wants to build 65 homes on land at Lea Meadow, a 10—acre site south of the Herb Farm in Peppard Road.

The company had previously submitted an application for 82 homes on the site last August but withdrew it following criticism from villagers and the parish council.

But the new plan has also received a poor reception and the council’s planning committee has written to South Oxfordshire District Council recommending its rejection.

It says planning permission should be refused on the following grounds:

• The plans are not in line with neighbourhood development plan and its consultation which supports 60 homes on the site

• The number of homes is too high

• There is no clarity in the application on type and mix of houses

• Distance from the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is inadequate

The draft Sonning Common neighbourhood development plan working group has said that the site is suitable for no more than 60 homes. Parish councillor Barrie Greenwood, who leads the neighbourhood plan working group, said: “Our position is firm in that we believe 60 homes is the appropriate number for that site.

“I see this as a difference in opinion but we are open to discussion with the developer who think 65 is right.

“We have already increased the number of homes for Lea Meadow from 47 to 60 having discussed the issue at length with neighbouring residents to the site back in January.”

Villagers have also criticised the new plan.

Steve Newton, of Peppard Road, said the neighbourhood plan should be followed and cited a lack of infrastructure to handle increased demand on Sonning Common’s roads.

He said: “Lea Meadow provides a green area that separates Sonning Common from outlying residential areas.

“The erosion of these green areas weakens the case for maintaining the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty which are to be found nearby. The density of the planned dwellings on the site is far too high, and is out of keeping with the character of the area.”

James Primrose, of Bird Wood Court, said the developer was trying to “bypass” the neighbourhood plan. He said: “This latest proposal is positioned as an amendment to the September 2014 application.

“It is however materially different from that application and therefore a full application should be submitted. This would allow a longer review time, 10 days is simply not enough for such a significant development for Sonning Common.

“The amendment does not provide updated information on house ridge heights, representations of visual impact from the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty along the Peppard Road, and the new housing mix, all of which were important issues with the last proposal.”

Keith Whitelaw, also of Bird Wood Court, said: “The issue of security between Lea Meadow and the back gardens of Bird Wood Court has not been addressed.

“It is not just the new residents of Lea Meadow who will be using the new footpath/cycle path, â?�it will be anyone, including people from outside the village. This represents a very great security risk for existing Bird Wood Court residents as at the moment access to the rear gardens of the Bird Wood Court properties is extremely difficult for potential intruders.”

Councillor Carole Lewis, who chairs the planning committee, said: “While Bewley Homes have reduced the number of properties from their application they should be reduced further.

“The planning committee are quite anxious about the possible mix of homes with too many expensive ones and not enough for small families and people who are downsizing.”

Ken Dijksman, agent for Bewley Homes, said: “The site is identified as being an acceptable location for residential development within the draft Sonning Common development plan, the scheme now proposed has been designed to deal with all technical and urban design concerns expressed by council officers during the consideration of the original submission.”

Three previous applications to develop the land, for 105, 85 and 55 homes, respectively, have been submitted and withdrawn in the last four years. The district council is expected to make a decision by July 31.

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