Sunday, 21 July 2019

Flood-proof house on river island ‘too high’

Flood-proof house on river island ‘too high’

A MAN’S plans to replace his home on an island in the River Thames in Henley have been opposed by councillors.

They say the new two-storey building on Rod Eyot would be too high.

The existing timber-framed building, called Syringa, was constructed in the Twenties and is one of 11 homes on the island.

Raj Aurora, who has lived there for 30 years, says it is vulnerable to flooding and the replacement building would be set on stilts.

Four of the other homes on the island have been raised since the floods in 2014, which were the highest in 50 years.

Mr Aurora’s planning application says: “The proposed siting is an improvement to that of the existing house.

“The impact of the height increase required for flood resilience is offset by locating the new house towards the middle of the site, reducing its prominence.

“The plan has four bedrooms, which is the same as the current house with a small studio room on the second level. The building height is kept as low as possible.”

Mr Aurora’s next door neighbours have objected.

They said: “We are concerned about the height of the new building so close to our house.

“There are no other two-storey buildings raised on stilts on the island and we believe that allowing this application would create a precedent to the detriment of the visual amenity of the island as a whole.

“The applicant is a valued neighbour with whom we have always enjoyed good relations.

“We have informed him that in principle we are happy for Syringa to be redeveloped and indicated that we are open to constructive discussions to arrive at a solution with which we are both happy.

“However, the applicant chose not to engage in discussions with us before submitting his application and the planning application timescale has not allowed us sufficient time to deal to our satisfaction with all the issues we are concerned about.”

The Henley Society has also objected, saying the new house would be too large and the design would be “inappropriate” for the location.

It added: “By having such tall supporting pillars, plus a studio room on top of the building and a boat deck, it would have a much more dominating impact on the island and on the outlook from the Thames Path than the existing building.

“The design, which involves substantial amounts of glass and increased hard landscaping, would be out of character with the surroundings and the construction of the boat dock would entail the loss of semi-natural river bank.”

Members of the town council’s planning committee recommended the application be rejected.

Councillor Donna Crook said: “It’s a lovely design but it’s too high and the top floor needs to be taken off. It’s not in keeping with this area.”

Councillor Will Hamilton said the new building would set a height precedent for other buildings on the island.

South Oxfordshire District Council, the planning authority, will make a decision on the application by July 17.

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