Tuesday, 26 January 2021

Decision on new homes delayed for site visit

Decision on new homes delayed for site visit

A DECISION on plans for 20 homes on a site earmarked for development in Goring’s neighbourhood plan has been postponed.

South Oxfordshire District Council’s planning committee was due to consider an application by Frenbury Developments and Elegant Homes, of Caversham, to develop the 2.2-hectare field between Manor Road and Elmcroft at a meeting last week.

But councillors agreed to delay this until they have made a site visit in order to judge the possible impact on the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The developers want to build on only the eastern half of the land as the rest lies in a medium-risk flood zone.

To create an area big enough to build on, they would elevate part of the flood zone to make it suitable for development.

The application is for 12 houses with either two, three or four bedrooms and eight “affordable” homes, four with two bedrooms and four with three, in order to meet the 40 per cent quota required by the neighbourhood plan, which passed a referendum last year.

The district council’s planning officers recommended approval, saying there was no additional flood risk and the Environment Agency agreed.

But almost 50 neighbours objected, saying the scheme would adversely affect the rural character of the area and increase traffic on the narrow roads.

They also questioned whether raising part of the land would reduce the risk of flooding.

The opponents say the housing should go on a field off Gatehampton Road, which was earmarked as a reserve site in the plan.

The Chilterns Conservation Board said the scheme was “not in character” with the AONB and would erode the boundary between the built-up area and the countryside beyond.

It said plans to screen the site with additional trees wasn’t enough to address the impact on views from the south.

Councillor Peter Dragonetti told the committee: “I’ve very concerned to read the comments by the board which say the new homes would be clearly visible and harmful to their setting. You don’t often get them raising issues like this.”

Councillor Ken Arlett said the site wouldn’t have been included in the neighbourhood plan if there were problems with it.

Cllr Dragonetti responded: “The site may be in the neighbourhood plan but other locations are flagged up as alternatives should the main sites be found to be unacceptable. Under the circumstances, it’s only correct to have a site visit.”

Eight committee members backed the idea while three opposed it. A date for the visit could not be set because of the coronavirus lockdown.

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