Sunday, 19 September 2021

Council upset by 'unlawful' entry to llama centre

A NEW entrance at an alpaca and llama treatment centre in Goring Heath has prompted complaints from the parish council.

Councillors say the iron gates and tall red brick wall, which were erected at Camelid Veterinary Services in August, are not in keeping with the rural character of the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

They say a lower flint wall would be more appropriate and are urging South Oxfordshire District Council to take enforcement action.

However, planning officers say the development is acceptable and would be approved if a planning application was submitted. The clinic was founded by Claire Whitehead in 2011 and moved into new premises at a timber-framed barn on the site earlier this year.

Henley MP John Howell attended the opening ceremony and planted a silver birch tree to mark the occasion.

The business offers camelid reproductive services and consultancy for medical problems affecting alpacas and llamas.

It has accommodation for the animals plus an operating theatre, laboratory and offices. A planning application for the new building submitted in 2013 had no drawings of the wall or gates, which the parish council argues it should have done.

Council chairman Peter Dragonetti said: “It’s unfair because the district council’s planning rules are applied very strictly to ordinary householders.

“A lot of people are cheesed off about this — they feel it’s one rule for the clinic and another for everyone else. It may well be that a planning application would prove successful but they should still follow the proper procedure.”

Rob Simister, who represents Goring Heath on the district council, said planning officers had decided it was “not expedient” to take enforcement action.

He said: “Unless further works have been undertaken to the wall that may warrant a reassessment, the district council would not re-open the case. The district council’s planning enforcement team believes there is no planning harm.”

Ms Whitehead said she had signalled her intent to replace the gates in the 2013 application and assumed this would be sufficient.

She said: “I didn’t realise this would be an issue and designed the gates in a way that I thought would meet the needs of the business while looking attractive. I’ve had a lot of positive comments from people, including my neighbours.”

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