Tuesday, 24 November 2020

Objection to plan for house in former farmer’s field

RESIDENTS are opposing plans to develop part of a former farmer’s field still registered for agricultural use.

RESIDENTS are opposing plans to develop part of a former farmer’s field still registered for agricultural use.

Russell Smith wants to build a five-bedroom house on what he says is the garden of his existing property in Rotherfield Road, Henley.

But neighbours say he has not obtained permission for change of use from agricultural to garden land, having bought the 0.2 hectare site off the owners of Lucy’s Farm in June.

They are supported by town councillors who say the development would extend the parish boundary into Harpsden parish.

Lucy’s Farm was among the sites put forward for inclusion in the Henley and Harpsden joint neighbourhood plan but was excluded on the grounds that it was not suitable for housing.

Alistair Crawford, of Rotherfield Road, told a meeting of the council’s planning committee that he and his wife Susan were concerned because Mr Smith’s application stated the land was a garden.

“This is wrong,” he said. “The site was part of Lucy’s Farm but was bought on June 30. The land is agricultural. It is a bit out of a field.

“The neighbourhood plan housing group had Lucy’s Farm at the bottom of its list of preferred sites and it was not mentioned in the final plan.

“It would be my impression that Lucy’s Farm is being broken up and built on from the edge to the middle.”

Neighbour Hugh Crook said no change of use application had been made.

Fourteen people have officially registered an objection with South Oxfordshire District Council, the planning authority. A number of them said that a fence had been put up around the land earmarked for development.

Robert Munroe, of Blandy Road, wrote: “It seems that the site is proposed for what has been for very many years clearly identified as agricultural land, i.e. not as a garden of a property.

“Over those many years the overall site known variously as Lucy’s Farm or Drawback Hill has been the subject of many planning applications for housing, all refused.

“That the latter ‘housing is not wanted there’ status still applies has recently been reaffirmed by the housing working group of the neighbourhood plan which accorded this site the lowest number of points of all sites considered.

“An important contributory factor mitigating against this site’s development is the potential impact on views to/from the Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty that is located on the south side of the road through the Harpsden Valley and includes parts of Henley Golf Club’s land.”

The design and access statement in Mr Smith’s application says: “The objective of the design is to provide a five-bedroom dwelling with a pleasing design with minimal impact on the locality.

“The proposed site for the new house is very well screened by existing trees and hedges and will be reinforced with further planting.

“The property is adjacent to the built up area of the town and this has been considered during the design process.

“A new double garage is proposed and a car parking area to the south of the proposed dwelling.”

The committee agreed unanimously to recommend the application is refused. Councillor David Nimmo Smith said: “It is actually extending the boundary of Henley. On those grounds I would be against it.”

The district council will make a final decision by January 5.

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