Friday, 12 August 2022

Villagers object to restaurant's parking scheme

A TEMPORARY car park for a restaurant in Sonning would be unsafe, say parish councillors.

The Great House Hotel, run by Coppa Club, wants to create the car park on land on the other side of Sonning Bridge, with a minibus service ferrying customers and staff between the two sites every 15 minutes.

It says the land, which is part of Frizers Farm, would be able to accommodate between 50 and 70 cars and would be open Wednesday to Sunday.

Half the spaces would be reserved specifically for customers and staff and the rest would be used as a public park and ride.

The hotel has applied for planning permission to use the car park for a year with an option to make it permanent if successful.

Its application says: “The proposed car park will support the existing operations at the Great House and within Sonning.

“The majority of the car trips it attracts will not be new and will simply be reassigned from other areas within Sonning. The proposals therefore are unlikely to have a significant impact on the safety or capacity of the surrounding road network.”

But the parish council said the location of the car park would be “unsustainable” as there is no pavement on the 400m route to the hotel and customers would attempt to walk the short distance rather than wait for a minibus.

Councillors also said the exit from the hotel on to Thames Street was already very busy.

Neighbour Paul Stevenson said: “Entry and exit to the main road is partially sighted and is, in my opinion, dangerous. Pedestrians making their way between car park and Coppa need to walk on sections of narrow, busy road with no paving. In poor light/visibility this is an accident in the waiting.

“People are impatient. They will not wait for a shuttle bus if the distance is too short. A shuttle works when the incentive is to ride.”

Mr Stevenson said he also had concerns over pollution and noise disruption and suggested the company should look at overflow parking at the Berkshire County Sports site.

Judith Cassingham said the land was already being used for parking and she had experienced noise and light pollution.

She said: “Our bedrooms are directly opposite the farm and the access road to the car park so we hear the movement of people and cars as they leave, which is very noisy, especially after customers have been for a night out.

“One of our bedrooms has a window that looks out on to the access road to the car park, so every car that leaves the car park via this road projects its headlights directly in through the window.

“This is significantly disruptive and will have an impact on the ability to sleep and, potentially, our mental health.”

The Sonning and Sonning Eye Society said that the plans would be acceptable for 12 months in which time the business should look at other options for parking.

A decision will be made by South Oxfordshire District Council next month.

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