Tuesday, 22 January 2019

Couple want to rebuild home in flood-prone road

A COUPLE from Wargrave want to rebuild their home to protect it from flooding.

Victor and Liz Tawse want to demolish their existing property in Loddon Drive and construct a new five-bedroom house.

They say the building is in a bad state of repair with poor insulation, which means it is cold and damp.

Parts of the ground floor are also below the one-in-a-100-year flood level, meaning the house could be at risk if the River Loddon and River Thames nearby were to flood.

In January 2014, houses in Loddon Drive were submerged after the rivers burst their banks.

Although many of the properties are raised to protect them from flooding, several residents were forced to evacuate.

Mark Bond’s bungalow had a foot of water in the lowest-lying rooms, while Christine Hopcroft’s garden was under 4ft of water.

Mrs Tawse told a meeting of Wargrave Parish Council that she and her husband bought the house two years ago but during the previous 30 years little or no maintenance was done, which caused the current problems.

She said: “The windows are single-pane and there is no loft insulation, which makes for a very cold, damp house. The initial costs indicated it would cost the same to bring it up to standard as it would to rebuild.

“The home we have designed is sympathetic to the site and surrounding houses. Natural materials are important to use as one of our children has asthma.”

Councillors supported the couple’s plans, saying that other homes in the street had been rebuilt in recent years.

Councillor Michael Etwell said: “It’s a modern, energy-efficient development. There are quite a lot of modern developments in this area and this would be keeping in concept with those. The house would be raised to take full account of the flood risk.”

The Tawses are also supported by neighbours.

Andy Whittam said: “We would like to voice our support for this application, which will allow a family valued by the local community to live in a modern house free from the risk of flooding and with a far lower environmental footprint than the rotten structure that is there currently.

“The eclectic nature of the architecture on Loddon Drive is what makes it special and this home will only add to that.” Ross Ahlgren said: “The design is fresh and sympathetic to our unique setting. It is not being built to be flipped but as a unique family home that should stand the test of time.”

Councillors also supported revised plans to build a 140m boundary fence at a house in Wargrave Road.

They had originally objected to Tom Walsh’s application for a 1.8m acoustic fence, which would protect his garden and home from traffic noise and improve security.

The fence was to be 1m from the road and most of the existing trees and hedges on the boundary were to remain.

But councillors said the fence would have an “overbearing and urbanising appearance” in the conservation area.

They said it would be too close to the road and would have a tunnelling effect on the street, which has a steep bank on the other side.

In his revised plan, Mr Walsh has reduced the fence height to 1.5m.

Parish clerk Stephen Hedges said the application addressed the issue of the verge and the land was Mr Walsh’s.

He said the trees would need to be removed, one of them on the grounds of road safety. The other two were not of any value.

Councillor Marion Pope said: “I think it will be better because what worries me is there’s a big ditch down there and this will make it safer.”

However, Councillor Philip Davies said: “It is better I know but we looked at a picture of it and it would have a long urbanising effect on that road because it’s quite long.

“The other side of that road is very high land so it will have a tunnel effect.”

Councillor Terry Cattermole said: “The height seems to have been addressed and the line seems to have been addressed. The urbanising needs to be looked at.”

Councillor Nick Hart suggested that a fence with slats or made from natural materials would look less intrusive.

But Mr Hedges said this would not provide the protection from road noise that Mr Walsh wanted.

He said: “One of the elements of an acoustic fence is that anything that has a space through it is very difficult. One of the problems with that road is the other side is quite high and it reverberates back to double the amount of sound.”

Councillors recommended approval on the condition that planting is carried out to maintain the current appearance of the roadside.

Both applications will be decided by Wokingham Borough Council, the planning authority, later this month.

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