Friday, 04 December 2020

Residents ’ignored’ as developer wins appeal

COUNCILLORS say they are bewildered after a proposed infill development in Sonning Common was approved on

COUNCILLORS say they are bewildered after a proposed infill development in Sonning Common was approved on appeal.

They were opposed to the application for a four-bedroom detached house between Nos 31 and 33 Woodlands Road and South Oxfordshire District Council turned it down on the grounds that the development would be “cramped” and out of keeping with the area.

Now a planning inspector has overturned this decision after an appeal by the developer, Woolf Bond Planning, of Reading.

Sonning Common Parish Council’s planning committee has complained to Henley MP John Howell.

Carole Lewis, who chairs the committee, said they were frustrated by the inspector’s decision and that locals had effectively been ignored.

She said: “We did what we think is right for the village, the district council agrees with us, then it goes to the inspector and he gives it the go-ahead. It makes you question why we bother to do these things.”

She said the committee had considered the “bigger  picture” and the other residents, eight of whom formally  objected.

David Richens, a member of the committee who lives in Woodlands Road, said: “It’s a bewildering decision.

“All the local bodies seem to have been ignored. It makes a mockery of local democracy and the feelings of local people.

“All the residents put in the effort by attending meetings and we had the backing of the district council. We believed there were good reasons to reject the application.” The residents who objected complained about loss of privacy, inadequate parking provision and extra traffic.

In its appeal, submitted in April on behalf of the landowner Mr D Coventry, Woolf Planning said its plans made efficient use of the site and the development was in keeping with the character, scale and form of neighbouring properties.

The inspector Jonathan Price, who made a site visit in September, said the rectangular plot would “adequately accommodate” the proposed house “in keeping with the prevailing spacing and density of housing in this area”.

He continued: “The front-facing gable would differ from the end-gabled houses either side but observe their building line and roof heights.

“The front elevation, with its well-balanced fenestration, two-storey front bay echoing the main roof and mix of facing treatments, would give the design some expression and interest to complement the varied street scene.”

Mr Price said he had considered concerns raised about road safety and parking space, including comments made by the parish council, but noted that the highways authority (Oxfordshire County Council) had not objected.

He also said the back garden would be of similar size to neighbouring houses and obscure-glazed windows would prevent any loss of privacy for neighbours.

Mr Price said that because of this and as he was imposing conditions including appropriate landscaping, an obscure-glazed kitchen window and agreement with the district council on the external materials to be used “the proposal is considered acceptable”.

The application had been recommended for approval by the district council’s planning officers.

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