Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Four sites in village named as suitable for development

ONLY four out of 15 sites put forward for development under the Goring neighbourhood plan are to be included in the first draft.

The volunteer steering group which is compiling the document has named the plots where up to 91 homes should be built by 2027 to meet government targets. If the plan passes a referendum next summer, it will become legally binding.

The sites are as follows:

l A 2.8-hectare field behind houses in Springhill Road, which would be accessed from the street and from land to the north-west, off Wallingford Road.

This has been been deemed suitable for about 40 homes as long as they are built at the south-eastern corner of the site, where they will be at the foot of a slope and therefore less intrusive.

Earlier this year. McAdden Homes, of Spencers Wood, proposed building 67 units on the land.

The company was advised by South Oxfordshire District Council, the planning authority, that it wouldn’t have to carry out a full landscape impact assessment before submitting a planning application, which it is yet to do.

l Land on the eastern half of a field between Manor Road and Elmcroft, where another 20 to 25 houses would go, with vehicle access from the former and pedestrian access from the latter. The entire field, which measures 2.6 hectares, was submitted for the plan but the steering group omitted the western half because it is at increased risk of flooding.

The land was recently the subject of a failed planning application and subsequent appeal by Elegant Homes, of Caversham, and Frenbury Developments for up to 35 homes.

Appeal inspector Kenneth Stone shared Goring Parish Council’s concerns that it would be an inappropriate development in the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

l The car park and warehouse behind Thames Court, an office complex off High Street and Cleeve Road, which could take about 16 dwellings.

Owner Thames Properties, of Richmond, says the site would take only a year to redevelop but the work could not start until 2018 at the earliest because it is currently let to a commercial tenant who could invoke a break clause in its contract in two years or will occupy the site until 2023.

l A 0.63-hectare field for about 10 homes off Icknield Road, behind Cleeve Cottages and next to the town’s fire station. Elegant Homes submitted a planning application for 10 houses there in September.

The parish council objected, saying this would be overdevelopment and the company should wait for the neighbourhood plan to be published. The district council has not yet made a decision.

The steering group felt only two other plots were acceptable in principle.

The first was a 0.6-hectare field to the west of Manor Road, which was considered less desirable than the top four sites and wasn’t needed to make up the village’s minimum quota of 86 homes.

The second was a large plot of land between Station Road and High Street incorporating The Arcade and several other retail units, South Oxfordshire District Council’s Wheel Orchard car park, the BT telephone exchange building and Goring Community Centre, which Oxfordshire County Council owns.

This was put forward on a speculative basis by Lochailort Investments, of London, but withdrawn as there was no suggestion that any of the landowners would agree to the idea.

The steering group said it would welcome a “mixed-use” redevelopment of the site to include flats, offices, shops and other amenities as long as the existing businesses were allowed to remain. The other nine sites were at the village outskirts and were considered unacceptable because of their impact on the surrounding countryside.

Seven were off Gatehampton Road, another spanned both sides of Battle Road while the ninth was to the west of Wallingford Road between the last house and the access road to the Leatherne Bottel restaurant.

The sites were announced at an exhibition at Goring village hall, which was attended by about 350 people.

This also included information boards about the pressures facing Goring and the criteria the steering group used to reach its decisions.

Spokesman David Bermingham said: “The widespread view among villagers who attended was that the exhibition was enormously professional and gave a very clear understanding of the process, the issues and the outcomes to date.

“One commented that if the case for Brexit had been so clearly laid out, the country would not have been nearly so divided on the issue!”

The draft plan will be presented to the parish council in February before public consultation. The feedback will be reviewed and the plan updated before it is submitted to the district council, which will carry out more consultation before the document goes to an independent examiner.

It’s hoped that a referendum will take place in the summer.

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