Tuesday, 09 August 2022

Conservation groups object to plan for 'ugly' steel barn at rural stables

A COUPLE’S plan to cover a riding arena at their stables in Rotherfield Greys has been criticised by conservation groups.

Amanda Gould and her husband have applied for planning permission to erect a steel barn over the practice area at Rocky Lane Farm in Rocky Lane.

But opponents say the 7m high green building would be “ugly” and harm the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

The couple’s application says the arena is used to train event horses and the roof would allow it to be used all year round.

It says: “The welfare of horse and rider are a top priority and this improvement would be a huge benefit.

“The existing riding arena is an L-shaped construction. We propose to cover only half of the area with a suitable steel structure.

“The area is already well screened to the south and east, where there is a public footpath. There is a possibility that some planting may be beneficial to the north and west and we are happy to discuss this and revise the plans to suit.

“It is hoped that any impact on the character of the surrounding landscape has been lessened and mitigated where possible and this is an acceptable proposal.”

The Henley-based Open Spaces Society said the barn would look like a warehouse on an industrial estate.

General secretary Kate Ashbrook said: “The proposal is for a massive, ugly steel barn to enclose the riding school.

“Despite claims by the applicants, the development would be visible from many public places.

“At over 7m high, it would be seen from the public footpath which runs alongside the site because it would tower over the fence and hedge, generating an unpleasant enclosed atmosphere. A development of this size and scale is inappropriate in this sensitive location in the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

“It would spoil people’s enjoyment of these attractive routes and have a severe impact on the natural beauty of the Chilterns.”

Peter Willis-Fleming, planning field officer for the Chiltern Society, said: “The proposed construction would dominate and represent a visually intrusive element in the area, which would be harmful to the well-established landscape character within the Chilterns AONB, the proposed screening measures notwithstanding.

“There is a number of well-used footpaths and bridleways in close proximity, the enjoyment of which would be adversely affected by the presence of a construction out of keeping with the surrounding area.”

The Henley and Goring Ramblers have also objected.

Member John Case said: “Rocky Lane is uniquely attractive and the buildings along it are predominantly historic and traditionally built.

“The proposed building is of modern utilitarian materials and huge size, with a length of 40m and a height of over 7m and cannot help but be visually intrusive and quite out of keeping with the area and its natural beauty.

“This development is too big and in the wrong place and would severely compromise the natural beauty of the area and the pleasure that walkers and riders experience here at present.”

The South Oxfordshire branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England says that if permission is granted any changes to the lighting in future should be subject to a full planning application.

Rotherfield Greys Parish Council says it has no strong views on the application but that consideration should be given to neighbours over the height of the building.

South Oxfordshire District Council, the planning authority, is due to make a decision by January 24.

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