Monday, 15 August 2022

Residents split over proposed garage move

RESIDENTS are divided over plans by a garage in Sonning Common to relocate.

Gary Catt, who owns Mike Farina Garage in Sedgewell Road, wants to move the business to land opposite Kidby’s Yard, off Kennylands Road.

The business, which has been on its current site for more than 40 years, has to move because the landowner wants to build homes there.

Mr Catt has applied for planning permission to build a new vehicle workshop and MOT testing station on a 240 sq m piece of land with access via the track used by other businesses on the site.

He says that his lease expires this summer and if he can’t move within the village the business will close.

A design and access statement by Mackley Mulkerns Architecture, of Reading, says: “The proposed move would enable the applicant to develop and expand his business to include MOT testing, a service which he is unable to offer at his existing premises.”

Carl and Ruth Green, who live in Kennylands Road, have objected, saying that the Sonning Common neighbourhood plan states that Kidby’s Yard is suitable for business use (B1) but not general industrial use (B2).

The couple said: “The proposed garage will be very noisy and adversely affect our property and the properties backing on to the site. The rear of our house will become a car park and garage with constant noise and pollution. We have young children that spend a lot of time in the garden but these plans will effectively make our garden unusable.”

Neighbour Paul Mullin said: “The pneumatic guns used for removing and securing wheel nuts will be very noisy and adversely affect the properties behind and backing on to the site.”

He said the plan allowed for seven spaces but this wouldn’t be enough since the current site had up to 20 vehicles parked at the front and along Sedgewell Road.

“They are expanding the business so this means there would be more vehicles,” he said.

Parish councillor Stan Rust, who lives Kennylands Road, said that while he appreciated the desire to keep the business in the village, the site was in a residential area and a garage was not appropriate.

But fellow parish councillor Barrie Greenwood, of Grove Road, said: “This is the only available and suitable site for relocation within Sonning Common.

“Thus its use will ensure that a valuable asset as well as an alternative choice for car repairs will be retained within the village, particularly when its population is steadily increasing. The current business operates only between the hours of 8am and 6pm five days a week, thus has minimal impact on neighbours.”

Joan Grummant, of Maple Close, said: “This a highly regarded and well-established local business that has attracted a lot of much-needed business to Sonning Common over many years.

“We are lucky to have it. Because it is a small scale workshop it is an asset that many local people use and saves journeys into Reading and beyond.

“It would be a shame to lose yet another local firm which provides a great, reliable and effective service.”

Alastair Morris, who lives in Kennylands Road, said: “This company has provided an excellent and valued service to the community for many years and it would be a tragedy if it had to close.

“Kidby’s Yard is a designated site within the neighbourhood plan for just such small scale businesses and already has a number of thriving companies there.”

Oxfordshire County Council, the highways authority, has recommended the application is refused on the grounds of more vehicles using the access track.

Sonning Common Parish Council has not objected.

South Oxfordshire District Council, the planning authority, will make a decision by next Friday.

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