Monday, 08 August 2022

Eight homes cut to six on proposed development

A COMPANY planning to redevelop land in Sonning Common has reduced the number of proposed houses from eight to six.

Groom Estates, of Henley, has applied to knock down two houses next to the Vauxhall dealership in Peppard Road and build a pair of houses with four bedrooms, two more with three bedrooms and another two two-bedroom homes.

The developer had previously planned to build eight two-bedroom properties on the 0.17-hectare site.

Despite the reduction, Sonning Common Parish Council is still concerned about the density of the development.

It opposed the previous application on the grounds of overdevelopment and lack of sufficient parking space.

Mark Groom, a planning consultant and developer, said the new plans had addressed these concerns.

The revised scheme has 15 car parking spaces, with two allocated to each property plus three for visitors.

Mr Groom said the mix of units would help to rebalance the housing stock in the village in line with the Sonning Common neighbourhood plan.

He said: “While new development is not always welcomed by all, I consider that the revised application complies with both the principles set out in the neighbourhood plan and local and government planning policies and addresses general concerns.

“I take pride in my developments and believe that I pay more attention to the quality than perhaps larger, mass housing developers

“The proposed site lies within the settlement of Sonning Common and is extremely sustainable. These pockets of opportunities should be developed to allow additional housing that is needed. Preventing these infills will only increase the need to allow more housing to overflow into green belt areas.”

Councillor Leigh Rawlins said the development was still denser than the guidelines set out in the neighbourhood plan.

He said: “With six houses and an average of three bedrooms each, the properties are hardly small. Based on our advice on density, it should be four properties.

“The properties are now more in the building line, which is positive. Six is better then eight but six is still stretching it in terms of density.”

The council suggested that the ridge heights are kept as low as possible to reduce the impact on the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, part of which is behind the site.

Meanwhile, Russell Cooper, of Kidmore Lane, Sonning Common, wants to build a cattery in his garden.

A single-storey wooden building would be erected at the end of the garden and cat owners would be received in the utility room at his house.

Up to 20 cats could occupy the building at one time in four single pens and three double pens, which store two cats and four cats respectively.

The hours of operation would be 9am to 11am and 4pm to 6pm every day except Sunday.

All visitors would come to visit at specified times and would only be allowed one or two at a time.

Cat litter would be collected by a professional waste management company twice a week.

An existing garden shed would be used to store food and cat boxes.

A design and access statement by Keith Halson, of Henley, said: “There are no facilities at present in Sonning Common for the boarding of cats. The proposal has been carefully considered to avoid any disturbance or loss of privacy to neighbouring properties.”

South Oxfordshire District Council, the planning authority, will make a decision on both applications.

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