Wednesday, 25 November 2020

Councillors face dilemma over £400,000 sale of housing land

COUNCILLORS in Sonning Common have disagreed over what to do with a piece of land that could make

COUNCILLORS in Sonning Common have disagreed over what to do with a piece of land that could make the parish £400,000.

The parish council has been granted outline planning permission for two three-bedroom houses on the 0.18-hectare site on the corner of Brinds Close and Wood Lane.

It had planned to allow developers to blind bid for the property through an estate agent.

But Councillor Leigh Rawlins has suggested submitting new plans with another bedroom in the loft of the houses, as a developer would do, in order to make more money.

Speaking at a council meeting, he said: “We want to try to get as much as we can out of this particular gift.

“We should put more bedrooms in the houses to add value which will have a direct effect on the plan value.

“I would want to put in a new application because of the size of the value difference. Doing it will increase value and far exceed the cost.”

Parish clerk Philip Collings said that South Oxfordshire District Council had advised having one large house on the plot but estate agents had suggested two would be better.

The two houses would have a shared access with two parking spaces each.

To create the access a bus stop in Wood Lane would have to be moved.

Mr Collings added: “It’s a problematic site and resubmitting an application could put us back three to six months and we could end up with a dead property market.”

Councillor Barrie Greenwood said: “I think we can get more out of this but I do not necessarily support what Councillor Rawlins is saying.

“The only way to guarantee what we want is to go the whole hog and build it ourselves but we are not builders or developers.”

Councillor Chrissie Phillips Tilbury said: “I feel extremely anxious about this because it is a big decision. I am anxious to get it right.”

Mr Collings said it would be possible to put a clause in the sale agreement that if a house sold for more than a certain amount, then some of the extra money would go to the parish. He said he intended to use Sonning Common estate agent Beville to sell the land.

Councillor Colin Reynolds said at least two or three estate agents should be consulted “to make sure we are getting the best for what we’ve got”.

Cllr Greenwood suggested the council asked three estate agents if the current plans were cost effective prior to trying to sell the land with outline planning permission.

He said: “All the talk is about two three-bedroom houses which we have outline permission for.

“Councillor Rawlins’ requirements are for a fourth bedroom with suitable car parking for the extra bedrooms.

“My proposal is we consult with the three estate agents to see if this is cost effective, the overall cost of it and see what their advice is about whether a second outline planning application is required.”

His proposal was unanimously agreed.

The money raised from the sale of the land would be used for capital projects in the  village.

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