Sunday, 07 August 2022

Neighbours in semi-rural street oppose new homes

NEIGHBOURS have criticised plans for three new homes in a semi-rural street in Henley.

Kingerlee Homes, of Kidlington, has applied for planning permission to demolish The Mount in Rotherfield Road.

It says the two-and-a-half storey detached property is “tired and dilapidated” with no significant architectural or historic merit.

The house would be replaced by three detached properties, each with a separate garage and gardens.

The developer had originally wanted to build four houses but received pre-application advice from South Oxfordshire District Council, the planning authority, that this would be overdevelopment of the 0.88-hectare site, near Harpsden Cricket Club.

Residents of Rotherfield Road have objected, saying their homes would be overlooked and the scheme would harm the setting of the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Shelagh Stanbridge-Bennett and David Williams wrote to the council with nine objections, including loss of light and privacy.

They say: “This proposal further fills in the Harpsden valley, which overlooks the sleepy, picturesque village of Harpsden on the southernmost edge of the AONB.

“If this proposal was accepted by the planning authority, it would be embracing the idea that this valley can be peppered with housing which, however grand, will change the character and culture of this beautiful amenity enjoyed by so many, not just those of us fortunate enough to live here.”

Colin and Christine Batt say: “This is of considerable significance as Rotherfield Road gives access to Harpsden valley via two byways.

“Dog walkers, joggers, cyclists, riders and families can use this amenity to get away from a built-up area without having to use a car.

“Through a development that replaces one house with three the valley loses its undeveloped character.”

Adam and Jane Warby say: “We object to both the principle and the details of this proposal which we believe would have an irrevocable adverse impact on the form and appearance of this part of Henley, the Harpsden valley and neighbouring AONB.”

The John Hodges Trust for Harpsden Hall, which owns Harpsden cricket field, also objects.

Rod Birkett, a trustee, said: “The proposed houses would have an overbearing impact on their surroundings, including the cricket ground, and would create a triple tandem development which is significantly out of keeping with the prevailing character of development around the cricket ground.

“The scale and bulk of the proposed dwelling at plot three is wholly inappropriate for an edge of settlement location, let alone development which represents an encroachment beyond the existing settlement limits.”

Robert Erskine, who lives in Rotherfield Road, raised the issue at a meeting of Henley Town Council’s planning committee.

He said: “If you believe that Rotherfield Road is something that is rather good in Henley then, frankly, that’s under challenge.

“This has three houses that progress vertically down the hill. They are squeezed in.

“House number three, which is in line with mine, is very tall. My house is effectively one-and-a-half storeys with the bedrooms sort of in the roof. This one conservatively is three storeys and if you seek to be a little bit lenient with the detail it’s four as there is an underground [level].

“It will certainly invade my privacy but, much more importantly, all three houses have big windows looking down the valley and you won’t be able to miss them.

“Were you to support this application and South Oxfordshire to do the same, it would be the straw that broke the camel’s back as others would start to do the same.”

The committee voted to recommend the application is rejected.

Councillor Laurence Plant said “It is out of character and keeping with the road. I know there has been some building on the road already but we do our best to protect the character.”

Councillor Stefan Gawrysiak said: “This particular road and Lambridge Wood Road are two roads in Henley, and there are others, that we sought to protect.”

Harpsden Parish Council has also objected.

The district council is due to make a decision by Tuesday.

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