Sunday, 14 August 2022

Residents say ‘mansion’ would spoil riverside view

RESIDENTS and parish councillors in Wargrave have spoken out over plans to build a riverside “mansion” in the village.

Martin Marston wants to demolish an existing property at Silvaplana, off High Street, and build the three-bedroom home with guest suites, a gym and swimming pool.

The proposed development would have two storeys and a lower floor built in to the ground.

A similar application last year was approved by the parish council but later withdrawn.

Mr Marston says he wants to replace the current “ugly” building at the site and has tried to ensure the new home is suitable for the site, which is in the Wargrave conservation area and partly within the green belt.

He added that he also wants to “make amends” after he was fined £1,400 for lopping and felling protected trees at his home without permission from Wokingham Borough Council in 2015.

At a meeting of Wargrave Parish Council on Monday last week, he said: “The height of the proposed building is respective to the surroundings. It’s a beautiful setting and it’s a very, very ugly building. In terms of scale Silvaplana is the smallest in mass by nearly 50 per cent.

“I just ask for quiet and enjoyment. I love Wargrave, I was born here 39 years ago. The conservation area does need to be preserved but look at what High Street is like now.”

But neighbours, while supporting Mr Marston’s aim of redeveloping the site, say the proposed new home is too big, would come too close to its boundaries and could affect views from the River Thames to the west of the plot.

Terry Grourk, of the neighbouring Wargrave Hall, said: “The plans are, in our opinion, of a size and height to adversely affect the residents of Wargrave Hall as well as the surrounding cottages.

“The building scale is out of character with the surrounding cottages, not only in terms of overall square feet but the height is double the existing property and in addition the footprint has moved towards the boundary of Wargrave Hall. We would like to see this and its adjacent sites repaired or sympathetically redeveloped.”

Mike Stubbs, of Ferry Lane, added: “It’s almost identical to the previous application, to which we objected. I’m very concerned about the appearance.

“The proposed mansion is not appropriate in this location or surroundings. It’s a three-storey building and three times the size of the existing building.”

John Skuse, of the River Thames Society, said: “We object to this proposal as the view from the river of Wargrave waterfront is of great concern. It is of the strong opinion that any new construction not dominate the existing buildings.

“The proposed elevation from the river is very modern in appearance and would be seen as a complete contrast to the other existing and adjoining buildings which are typical of the conservation area.”

However, Mr Marston’s plans were supported by neighbour Kasia Kurylin.

She said: “There is no impact on my property. I, as a home owner, am very pleased to see Wargrave being improved. High Street has become a very run-down area. The conservation area needs developments like these and those at Wargrave Motors.”

Councillors said while they had no problems with the design of the proposed home, they also felt it was too big for the plot.

Councillor Andrew Cardy said: “I spend a lot of time going up and down the river. I think it’s rather beautiful but I’m concerned about the overall mass in the conservation area.”

Councillor Philip Davies added: “The issue is the bulk and mass and the position on the plot being very close to the border each side. I don’t have a problem with the design.”

Councillor Terry Cattermole said: “At present it would be screened from the river by a big tree but that tree may not be there forever and I do wonder what it would look like from the river without screening.”

Councillor John Halsall added that he had “an enormous number of concerns” about the plans.

But Councillor Marion Pope said: “It needs to be redeveloped, it’s in total disrepair. It needs to come down and be replaced with something sympathetic to the area.”

A decision will be made by the borough council next month.

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