Friday, 12 August 2022

Health centre won’t cope with more homes, say GPs

THE health centre in Sonning Common is at full stretch, say the village’s GPs.

The number of patients has been continually increasing as a result of new homes being built.

But the doctors say that without investment in the centre in Wood Lane it won’t able to cope with any more development.

The warning was issued by Dr Ralph Drury, a partner at the centre, in an objection to a planning application for 25 homes off Kennylands Road by developer T A Fisher, of Theale.

The company had a previous application for 30 homes turned down by South Oxfordshire District Council, the planning authority.

The 1.5 hectares of land was earmarked for 22 homes in the Sonning Common neighbourhood plan.

Dr Drury, who has worked at the health centre for almost two decades, said: “After discussion with all the healthcare team, we feel the development off Kennylands Road should only go ahead if some financial support is offered for the increased demand on healthcare infrastructure. We are already fully stretched at the health centre and with new developments and infill our patient numbers are going up and up.

“We object to further development unless appropriate funding can be found to support our ability to cope with the extra demand.”

The Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, which is responsible for health services across the county, has also objected to the application.

Anne Lankester, locality co-ordinator for south-east Oxfordshire, said: “With the large-scale housing planned across South Oxfordshire, we note the pressure this will have on already stretched GP services.

“We would look to the planning authority and developer to ensure the local health economy is financially supported to manage the resulting increase in patients.”

Residents of Kennylands Road have also objected. Phil Snowden said: “The number of dwellings agreed in the approved Sonning Common neighbourhood development plan was 22, so that should be the maximum number of dwellings proposed for this plot.

“Any increase in the number of approved dwellings would set a precedent for other approved sites, which would mean the neighbourhood development plan was effectively being ignored.”

Helen Fitchett objected to the position of the proposed access road to the development.

She said: “My house is directly opposite the access. I am concerned that during the winter months and at night the headlights of any vehicle coming out of the development will shine directly into our dining room and upstairs bedroom.”

Ann Layton said: “I want to know what is going to be done about disturbance. Where are the workers’ cars going to go?

“And we need to know how long it is going to take to build.”

Sonning Common Parish Council has agreed not to object.

Leigh Rawlins, chairman of the planning committee, said: “My understanding of what we have now is the result of one or two tweaks, which were necessary after comments from residents.

“It’s a variation from our plan slightly but it has been agreed by both parties subject to this plan being honoured.

“The neighbourhood plan always emphasised Kennylands Road was not a place for parking so we will ask them to make arrangements for parking inside the site.”

T A Fisher said the latest application was drawn up in consultation with neighbours and the parish council.

Changes included a new layout to stop overlooking, reduced ridge heights and a landscape buffer on the eastern boundary.

Steve Davies, development director at the company, said: “We have worked intensively with both the parish council and local residents to address their concerns surrounding the development of this site and I believe the scheme we now have represents the optimal solution.”

The district council will make a decision by November 8.

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