Sunday, 29 November 2020

Garden makes way for office development

A DECORATIVE phone box in Sonning Common has had to be taken down because it is

A DECORATIVE phone box in Sonning Common has had to be taken down because it is on private land that is being developed.

The Village Gardeners were given the red kiosk by Sonning Common Parish Council who bought it from BT for £1.65 in 2013.

It was placed in Wood Lane and filled with plants that were maintained by the gardening group.

Now it has been taken down by Gattis Developments, of Caversham, as the company is building an office with a two-bedroom flat above on the land on the corner of Green Lane.

Chrissy Phillips-Tilbury, a parish councillor who organises the Village Gardeners, returned from a holiday to find the phone box on its side at the back of the building site.

She said she didn’t know the land was private when she was given permission to move the phone box to Wood Lane from Blackmore Lane by South Oxfordshire District Council in 2013.

Mrs Phillips-Tilbury said: “I’m not pointing the finger at the developer.

“It’s all very unfortunate that I was given planning permission for it there. I wish we were told then that it was private land because we would not have put it there.

“Now we’ve got to find somewhere new to put the phone box. It’s extremely difficult to find somewhere to put it so currently we’re not sure what we’re going to do with it.

“I’m running round approaching landlords to try to find somewhere to put it. It has got to be somewhere not too cluttered.”

The phone box, which was planted up with evergreen honeysuckle, fuchsia, cotoneaster dammeri, variegated grass and heucherella stoplight, was relocated in 2013 using a crane from Peppard Building Supplies. Gattis Developments, the developer, declined to comment.

The district council has launched an investigation into the removal of the phone box.

A spokesman said: “We haven’t received any correspondence from residents about this.

“However, our officers will look to see if there are any issues relating to this work.”

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