Tuesday, 21 September 2021

Developer's plan for 10 flats turned down due to loss of trees

PLANS for 10 flats in Henley have been rejected.

Millgate Homes, of Twyford, wanted to build a single block at Parkside on a 2.5-acre site south of Gravel Hill.

All the flats would have had two bedrooms and been built across three floors with a basement for parking.

But South Oxfordshire District Council, the planning authority, refused planning permission, saying the site was not allocated for development under the joint Henley and Harpsden neighbourhood plan.

The scheme would also mean the loss of woodland protected by a tree preservation order.

The decision notice said: “The application does not demonstrate that there is an overriding public justification for the extension of built development into the countryside.

“The scale, bulk and massing of the proposed building would be at odds with the built form within the locality.

“This would be exacerbated by the extensive tree removal and landscaping works.

“The proposal would erode the undeveloped, sylvan character of the site, materially harming the rural landscape character of this part of Henley.”

The council also said that in the absence of a section 106 agreement, whereby a contribution is paid by a developer when it builds housing, the proposal failed to provide affordable housing to help meet the needs of the district, secure off-site biodiversity offsetting measures or make financial contributions towards waste and recycling provision.

When landowners were invited to put land forward for the neighbourhood plan, Millgate suggested building 15 homes off Parkside.

When the draft document went out to a consultation, 70 per cent of respondents supported development there but the site was ruled out because of the impact on the surrounding trees.

The district council said the land was on the edge of the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty so should be removed from the plan unless Millgate could offset the impact.

The company said that it had done this by shrinking the proposed development and moving most of the parking underground, reducing the number of trees that would need to be felled.

It also said the flats would help make up for the loss of other housing sites in the plan which were set to become care housing.

Meanwhile, Henley Glass has lost its fight over a first- floor extension to provide additional office space at its premises in Greys Road.

The company lodged an appeal after the district council’s planning committee refused to grant planning permission in October.

The committee said the extension with a dormer window would fail to preserve or enhance the character and appearance of the Henley conservation area and would have an overbearing and oppressive effect on, and cause overshadowing to, neighbouring properties.

Planning inspector Nick Fagan upheld the decision.

He said: “I conclude that the width of the proposed extension and its design, which would breach the existing eaves of the building, would fail to respect the scale and character of the existing Victorian terrace, this character being an important element of the conservation area.

“The proposed development would therefore fail to preserve the character and appearance of the Henley conservation area.

“I appreciate that the business requires additional office space and that the physical constraints of the existing building require the extension’s roof to breach its eaves line.

“But the public benefit of providing additional employment by strengthening an established business is insufficient to outweigh the harm identified above.”

Mr Fagan said the extension would have a “significant” effect on the daylight entering the nearest first-floor window and, to a lesser extent, the other first-floor window and ground floor French windows next door.

The extension would be “generally overbearing and oppressive” to the occupiers, he added.

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