Tuesday, 28 September 2021
PLANS to turn a former pub in Gallowstree Common into a veterinary surgery have been opposed by residents and parish councillors.
Brakspear, which owns the Reformation in Horsepond Road, has applied to South Oxfordshire District Council, the planning authority, for change of use permission.
The company also wants consent for three new houses, which Kidmore End Parish Council is against because the site was not earmarked for development in its neighbourhood plan.
Brakspear says the veterinary surgery would “positively contribute to local infrastructure and meet the needs of local residents for their pet health interests and can be viewed as a form of community facility”.
The council has tried to have the pub listed as an asset of community value but failed due to a lack of evidence about social events taking place there.
The proposed properties would include a four-bedroom detached house with a garage to the east of the pub and two three-bedroom detached cottages with parking spaces and gardens to the west.
Parish clerk Roger Penfold said councillors were “sympathetic” to the idea of a veterinary centre.
However, they were “concerned” because Gallowstree Common was not expected to accept a “significant” increase in housing.
He said the pub was in the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and the land was not an infill or brownfield site and was not included in the neighbourhood plan.
Many residents of Horsepond Road are against the development, saying it would lead to more traffic and increase the risk of flooding.
Sarah Kidd-May said more housing would be out of character with the rural village.
She said: “It would also potentially exacerbate the problem of flooding in the dip on Horsepond Road during and following moderate rain.
“There is no indication regarding external lighting, both on the site and on the buildings, which has the potential to be intrusive and result in loss of privacy to my property and other immediate neighbours.
“The back terrace is only feet away from our boundary and this would be likely to result in loss of privacy, particularly as the hedge is not evergreen and does not provide year-round screening.
“There is no indication on the plans about how and where sewage would be sited and managed or the ownership and responsibility for boundary maintenance.”
Antony Collins said the pub and surrounding land were the focal point of Gallowstree Common and gave the village its character. “Redeveloping the area and building modern houses will destroy this and prevent any future community asset being developed,” he said.
Mr Collins said a veterinary surgery would not be a community asset but rather a commercial enterprise.
He added: “Any redevelopment should be designed so that the character of the village is maintained and should seek to provide a genuine community asset maintaining its greenfield plots either side.”
Terri Halliday said the traffic using the road was already busier than ever.
“In my opinion it’s a real danger to the locals that live on Horsepond Road,” she said. “There are no speed checks or means of slowing down the commuters that hurtle through our village at frightening speeds.
“As we are a growing village, the lack of amenities for the elderly and non-drivers in our community became clear to me when I was without my car due to it having a mechanical fault.
“There is no bus stop here to get into town nor a single streetlight on the main road. The nearest shop is a good half an hour’s walk away. There is no path to walk there on.”
She added that the village had greater needs than a veterinary practice and there were already a number in the wider area.
Toby and Georgina Warren also said they were worried a veterinary surgery would increase traffic and make it more dangerous to leave their driveway.
Vukan Andjelkovic called for a comprehensive flood risk assessment for the proposed development.
Brakspear says the prospective veterinary practitioner already has clients in the area and there would be demand for her service, adding: “In her judgement, the site is ideally located.”
The closest veterinary surgery is Sonning Common Vets (Active Vetcare) in Green Lane.
The Reformation has been closed since August last year when Bob and Sandra Hurst completed a one-year contract with Brakspear.
Before they took over, the pub had been closed since November 2018 when landlord Stephanie Busher left.
Kidmore End Parish Council has applied to the district council six times to have the pub listed as an asset of community value.
The applications were rejected because the supporting evidence of social events taking place at the pub did not include dates.
There was also a lack of supporting evidence that the pub’s primary use over the next five years would further the social wellbeing and social interests of the community.
If an application had been successful, it would have meant the community had six months to make an offer if the pub was put up for sale by Brakspear.
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