Monday, 24 June 2019

Councillor: new homes will affect road safety

THE construction of 95 homes near Shiplake will lead to road safety problems, say councillors.

Taylor Wimpey wants to develop Thames Farm, off Reading Road, in Harpsden parish.

The land was not earmarked for housing in the joint Henley and Harpsden neighbourhood plan but outline planning permission was granted in 2017 after an appeal by the landowner Claire Engbers.

Opponents say the development will lead to more traffic on an already busy road.

Kester George, chairman of Harpsden Parish Council, told a meeting of Henley Town Council’s planning committee that previous pledges had not been honoured in Taylor Wimpey’s planning application.

He said: “There are two unpleasant surprises for those who attended the several appeal hearings.

“The first and most important one is transport safety along the Reading to Henley road. Although the entrance has been widened, the slip road that was proposed and I thought accepted by the county council to make it safer, has been removed from the plans.

“I can’t see any method of slowing traffic that comes round the crossroads between Woodlands Road and Station Road. That crossroads has always been dangerous and there is no means of slowing traffic other than signs.

“The plans look very much less safe than those pushed at both planning enquiries and I hope your members of the district council will press highways with their views.”

Cllr George said tree screening between the development and the road had been promised but did not appear in the company’s application.

He said: “Clare Engbers promised to spend £200,000 on trees between the houses and the road but I see no sign of that. The arboricultural papers say tree planting on one side of the estate will be left to the owners and that seems to me to be a recipe for neglect. I think the developers should accept responsibility for planting.”

The committee agreed to recommend to South Oxfordshire District Council, the planning authority, that the application is refused.

Taylor Wimpey wants to build a mixture of houses and flats with up to five bedrooms, 38 of which would be “affordable”. The company says it has amended the plans following consultations with residents to include additional planting, lighting and speed bumps around the development.

The scheme was first put forward by Mrs Engbers in 2016 but was refused permission by the district council, which said the land wasn’t in the neighbourhood plan and there were road safety issues.

Planning inspector John Braithwaite overturned the decision when Mrs Engbers appealed. He said the council had failed to secure enough housing sites to meet demand for the next three years, making the neighbourhood plan unenforceable.

The council then sought a judicial review at the High Court, saying the inspector’s methodology was flawed but judges argued this was a matter for his discretion.

Last year, the council had to abandon its fight against the development after being denied the right to challenge the planning inspector’s decision to approve it.

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