Sunday, 14 August 2022

New homes would damage our rural idyll, say villagers

RESIDENTS have criticised plans to build up to seven homes on a field in Lower Shiplake.

North Oak Homes has applied for outline planning permission to develop the site, which is north of New Road.

The developer says the houses would be of “similar size and proportion” to those along New Road, which they would face, each with four or five bedrooms and a large garage.

Access would be from New Road through an existing gate into the field and an unmade section of the road would be improved.

More than 10 neighbours have written to South Oxfordshire District Council, the planning authority, to object.

They warn that the development is not suitable for a rural area and would create traffic problems.

David Blomfield, of New Road, said: “Shiplake used to be a quiet village but, due to excessive planning grants, now permanently resembles a building site to the detriment of all residents. At some point local development has to be controlled. The primary school is full (my wife is chairman of governors), the station and other facilities are crowded and the roads resemble car parks.

“Specific to this development, New Road is unmade and is currently mainly used by pedestrians and cyclists, a large proportion of whom are schoolchildren who do not have to be driven to school due to the road being relatively quiet.

“Extending the tarmac and increasing the traffic on New Road would increase the danger of the road for our children and others. It would also create a rat-run for delivery drivers with their errant sat-navs.

“This development introduces no affordable housing and therefore has no wider community or social value, it is a purely profit-making exercise.”

Fellow resident Sean Briscall said: “Shiplake is a quiet and attractive village and home to a small number of people. The infrastructure and limited approach roads reflect this fact.

“The section of New Road in question is not a road but an unmade track which makes it a wonderful resource used by walkers and runners. It is a real asset to the area due to the limited traffic flow.

“Any development of this area starts a precedent that would cascade, resulting in more homes being built and the green field area being spoilt for existing residents.”

Jennie and Ian Rechner, of Baskerville Lane, said: “Development of New Road would significantly increase the amount of traffic using it.

“This area of Shiplake (and surrounding roads) is used extensively by children on bikes and walkers.

“This development does not contribute in any way towards affordable housing for young adults in the area.”

Carol Wild, of New Road, said a previous application for a single house on the site was rejected on appeal.

“This is a green field site in a rural area on an unmade road,” she said. “The proposed development would be very damaging to the area.”

Susan Barbour, of Crowsley Road, said: “This development is wholly inappropriate for a village setting. This part of New Road is a rural, unmade road with open spaces and used regularly by local people.

“This is yet another unwanted infill that benefits no one other than developers who don’t live in the village.”

North Oak Homes held a pre-application meeting with the district council in June and says planning officers stated the plans were likely to be considered “favourably” as “the benefits of providing the housing would not be demonstrably outweighed by the adverse impacts of the proposed housing development”.

The company says the development takes full account of the site’s semi-rural character and that trees and vegetation along the boundaries would be retained “where possible”.

It would also “respect the privacy” of existing residents in New Road and Baskerville Lane.

The district council will make a decision by January 16.

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