Saturday, 18 September 2021

Developer says new flats needed to meet growing demand

Developer says new flats needed to meet growing demand

A DEVELOPER is making another attempt to build 10 flats in Henley.

Millgate Homes, of Ruscombe, has resubmitted plans for Parkside after its first application was rejected because the site is not included in the joint Henley and Harpsden neighbourhood plan.

South Oxfordshire District Council, the planning authority, said the single block on the 2.5-acre site south of Gravel Hill would also mean the loss of protected woodland.

Now the company says that since the neighbourhood plan was adopted the housing requirement for South Oxfordshire has been “significantly increased”.

This was a result of the strategic housing market assessment which led to the district council saying that Henley should accept 350 new homes on top of the 500-plus that were agreed under the neighbourhood plan, which passed a referendum in 2016.

A design and access statement by architect Edgington Spink Hyne, of Windsor, says: “The recent increase of housing numbers allocated to Henley as a result of the emerging local plan adds increased need to review the capacity of existing allocated sites and to potentially allocate new sites or to allow windfall development sites such as this to help meet this increased housing need.

“The application site has good connections to public transport, community facilities and local services with Henley town centre, including the provision of education and training facilities, healthcare, community and leisure/recreation facilities.”

The block would be three storeys high with a basement for parking and all the flats would have two bedrooms.

The architect says the “higher quality” trees around the edges of the site would be retained, adding: “The layout and siting of the various elements of the proposed building have been advised following detailed consultation with the tree consultant.

“This process has resulted in the reduction of and the re-alignment of the footprint of the building during the development of the scheme.”

Changes to the original plans include the reduction in the height of the roof by about 50cm, the replacement of rendered timbering and hooded balconies on the second floor with tile-hung gables to merge better with the woodland setting and removal of chimneys.

When landowners were invited to put land forward for the neighbourhood plan, Millgate suggested building 15 homes in 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 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, moving most of the parking underground and 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 care housing.

The district council is set to make a decision on the latest application by May 8.

Meanwhile, plans to convert an office complex in Henley into flats have been withdrawn but are set to be resubmitted.

Ressance, of Newbury, wanted change of use consent to redevelop The Hub at Hallmark House, off Station Road, into 23 flats. Full planning permission was not required as converting offices into homes is permitted development.

A Ressance spokeswoman said: “The application was withdrawn prior to determination because the planning authority requested more information.

“We will answer those questions and enter into positive engagement with South Oxfordshire District Council before resubmitting the application.”

The three-storey complex, which was built in 1991 on land previously owned by British Rail, is owned by a management company in Portsmouth and divided into about a dozen suites. These are occupied by a number of businesses.

The district council could only refuse permission if there was a risk of flooding or contamination on the site or if Oxfordshire County Council, the highways authority, believed there would be an adverse impact on road safety.

A developer with permitted rights does not have to make payments towards improving infrastructure, such as roads, schools or GP surgeries, or to include a proportion of “affordable” homes.

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