Sunday, 14 August 2022

Residents unhappy with plans to ‘squeeze’ in home

PLANS to build an infill house in Sonning Common have angered neighbours and the parish council.

James Stone, of Kidmore Lane, also wants to extend a property in Peppard Road as well as build a new three-bed house.

Opponents say this would result in the overdevelopment and urbanisation of the area.

The existing access is a single track lane, off Bird in Hand Lane, and would be replaced with a new access for each property, with the total number of parking spaces increasing from one to five.

The 523 sq m site is currently used for a three-bedroom, semi-detached house. Under the plans the existing house would be extended to provide an extra first floor bedroom with an en-suite. The ground floor would be extended to provide an extra 16 sq m of floorspace.

Pre-application advice from planning officer Davina Sarac said she believed the plans were acceptable but she warned Mr Stone against making the development cramped or bulky.

But nine residents have already registered their opposition to the application. Chris Varnals, of Peppard Road, who lives next door to the application site, said he objected “vigorously”. He and his wife Jane have lived in the area for 35 years.

Mr Varnals said: “This application is a gross overdevelopment of the site and is not representative of the local housing density and scale.

“The proposed detached property is squashed in and it beggars belief that this can possibly be regarded as an improvement or of aesthetic value to the area.”

Francesca Lavelle, of Peppard Road, said an extra house would “urbanise” the area.

She said: “Further traffic going along the track will not have a positive impact on the accessible quiet garden we created at the front.

“The proposed new detached house would also cause a loss of privacy as the only front to back outside access for inhabitants would run along the proposed narrow walkway along our border.

“Clearly noise and disturbance would be a consequence to the proposed dense new development of both houses, this is likely to have an impact on the health of members of my family.”

Ms Lavelle also claims the proposed access to the development would not be able to cope with more traffic.

“I believe the track is inadequate to sustain the increasing demands for vehicular access,” she said. “Bird in Hand Lane already carries a substantial amount of traffic as many use this lane as a cut through.

“There are safety and visibility issues when cars pull out from the track onto this lane and when driving left out of Bird in Hand Lane onto Peppard Road.”

Maureen Robinson, of Peppard Road, said the development would compound problems of previous permitted development in the area.

She said: “All the planning that has been allowed in the triangle formed by Kennylands Road, Peppard Road and Bird in Hand Lane has been so disruptive and offensive to the residents who have lived in the properties long term.”

Daniel Talkington, of Bird in Hand Lane, said the character of the area was being eroded.

He said: “This is an area characterised by large plots and/or widely spaced houses. This development is neither of those. I have lived here less than four years and yet have seen the locality change immeasurably since then.”

The parish council’s planning committee strongly objected on the grounds of significant overdevelopment, highways risks and damage to the unadopted road.

Parish clerk Philip Collings also said building work taking place at other properties using the track for access had already left it damaged.

He added: “In view of all of the above and the strong local opposition the committee sincerely hopes that this application is refused.”

Chris Keen, of agent The Keen Partnership, of Reading, said the house is designed not to overlook neighbours.

He said: “The property is designed to look backwards and forwards and not to overlook either side.

“The application is consistent with the district council’s policies but will comes down to whether it believes that it is too large or bulky. I don’t think it is but, if it does, we could make it smaller. We acknowledge there are concerns but once it is finished they won’t notice it.”

South Oxfordshire District Council, the planning authority, will make a decision by December 4.

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