Wednesday, 17 August 2022

Residents question council U-turn on 50 new homes

RESIDENTS have questioned Sonning Common Parish Council’s change of stance on plans for 50 new homes.

Linden Homes and Patricia Pelly have applied to develop land at Bishopswood Farm with access via Reades Lane.

Parish councillors opposed the original plans but changed their minds after the company made amendments.

The changes include a new layout for the development and the removal of hedging on the boundary with existing homes in Ashford Avenue, Lambourne Road and Russet Close.

In a letter to South Oxfordshire District Council, the planning authority, the parish council says its support for the development is conditional on a spur road being removed, more information on access for emergency vehicles, the retention of existing hedgerows and protection from development on the proposed recreation ground.

But Simon Williamson and Ian Scholey, who both live in Reades Lane, said that few of the council’s other concerns about the original plans have been addressed.

These included the lack of off-road parking, the village’s need for more smaller houses and the application being made before the referendum on the village’s neighbourhood plan, which took place in September.

Mr Scholey told a parish council planning commitee meeting: “When you look at the original objections put forward things have not really changed but you have changed to approval. I want to know why this is. Every point apart from one or two is the same.”

Mr Williamson said more “joined-up thinking” was needed as there were separate plans for 37 new homes at Chiltern Edge School as well as a proposed recreational ground on a field next to the Linden development.

This land is also owned by Mrs Pelly and would be gifted to a community trust overseen by the parish council if the housing is approved.

Mr Williamson said: “We still have not seen the plans for the recreational development next door. There have been no plans put forward.

“There has been no study done on the whole matter and the roads plans. I don’t know how you can approve this in singularity.”

Other residents say more information is needed about the likely effects of the additional traffic caused by the development. Robert Newnham, who also lives in Reades Lane, said: “I cannot accept that the access on to Reades Lane is safe. The visibility to the west is limited and the speeds [of traffic] too fast. There is a school junction almost opposite and a further housing development planned on the school site.

“These issues can be reduced by the introduction of a properly constructed roundabout, not a painted version but a raised island to ensure traffic deflection. It would reduce points of conflict and speeds and ensure a safe access in all directions from both the school and the proposal.”

Mr Scholey and Mr Williamson also claim that public consultation on the plans has been poor.

Mr Williamson said: “It was not well advertised when this was going to be debated.”

Mr Scholey said: “We question the way the most recent consultation was held and how the advertised decision was approached. We have seen calls for more people to come out against the 95 homes off Kennylands Road but we’re not sure why this was not advertised.”

Deputy parish clerk Ros Varnes said the meeting had been advertised online and on parish notice boards three days beforehand.

She said: “We want as many people as possible to attend every meeting. Some residents did come along to the last meeting and I made a point of asking people to tell their neighbours. We want to get people to come along to air their views. We have done what we can to take forward the views of the residents who came to us.”

The parish council agreed to pass a letter from residents about their concerns to the planning officer.

Chairman Douglas Kedge said: “We should forward the points made by residents. It does not mean we agree with them.”

The district council is due to make a decision on the application by the end of the month.

l The parish council still has to agree a deal with Mrs Pelly over the recreation ground land. It says it will need an agreement for the transfer of the land within four weeks of planning permission being granted and £250,000 from developer funding for laying out the site and re-routing electricity cables and £16,000 for fencing.

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