Tuesday, 16 August 2022

Appeal over Thames Farm development plan withdrawn

AN appeal against the refusal of plans for 110 new homes at Thames Farm, near Shiplake, has been withdrawn by the applicant.

But Claire Engbers, who owns the 15-acre site off the A4155 Reading Road, is proceeding with a second appeal over her application for 95 houses on the land.

Mrs Engbers, of Norman Avenue, Henley, first put forward the larger scheme to South Oxfordshire District Council in 2013 but it was rejected.

She appealed in 2014 but a government inspector upheld the district council’s decision following a planning inquiry in Henley. The following year, Mrs Engbers took her case to the High Court and a judge overturned the inspector’s ruling, saying his reasoning was flawed.

The Department for Communities and Local Government contested the judgement but was overruled, clearing the way for the appeal to be heard again.

However, while waiting to hear the outcome of the department’s appeal, Mrs Engbers submitted the smaller application, describing it as “greener” than the first.

The district council’s officers recommended approval but the planning committee rejected the application on the grounds that the site, which is in Harpsden parish, was not included in the parish’s joint neighbourhood plan with Henley. Councillors also said the development would pose a traffic hazard.

Mrs Engbers then appealed the decision.

This week Tudor Taylor, chairman of Shiplake Parish Council, which opposed both applications, said: “We welcome this development as it confirms we don’t have to prepare for two separate processes. It was always difficult to see how that would work in practice. I suspect the Planning Inspectorate asked her to choose one and she probably felt the smaller one had a better chance.”

Kester George, chairman of Harpsden Parish Council, said: “It’s a step in the right direction but zero homes would be even better. It is outside the neighbourhood plan and has negative consequences for traffic safety and the character of the area.”

Mrs Engbers did not respond to requests for comment.

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