Friday, 10 July 2020

Councillors object to retirement village plan

COUNCILLORS have opposed revised plans to build a retirement village in Sonning Common.

Inspired Villages wants to create 133 homes on the
4.5-hectare site opposite the Johnson Matthey Technology Centre in Blounts Court Road.

A virtual meeting of the parish council’s planning committee heard that the application did not include major changes from the original plan and members recommended refusal. 

In the past they have said the development would fly in the face of the village’s neighbourhood plan, which did not earmark the site for housing and is designed to protect the village from speculative development.

Senior Living and Investfront applied for planning permission, on behalf of Inspired Villages, to build 73 assisted living units with communal and care facilities, gardens, green space, landscaping, car parking areas and residential blocks. A separate outline application has been submitted for 60 assisted living units. 

It says the development is needed because the population is ageing and it would benefit the NHS by reducing hospital admissions.

The development would have a “wellness centre” comprising a swimming pool, gym and exercise studio which would be available to both residents and non-residents.

The developer said it had listened to feedback on its previous application and made changes, including providing a 6m wide spine road, increasing car parking provision from 143 to 167 spaces and providing more detail in respect of sustainable transport measures.

It says there would not be a severe impact on the highway network or materially harmful impacts on road and pedestrian safety.

It also says the design has been amended to “simplify” facades in keeping with building in the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

But Leigh Rawlins, who chairs the committee, said: “They’re throwing a lot of money at this. They have tried to adapt to various suggestions of urban design officers to tweak the fascias and appearances of the buildings but they haven’t actually changed anything fundamental about the buildings.

“Some of the solutions in discussion would actually make things worse.”

Dr Kim Emerson, of Sonning Common health centre, said the developer’s offer of a contribution to the Oxfordshire Clincial Commisioning Group would not ease her concerns about the extra pressure that would be caused by the development.

She said: “Some could be mitigated with the finances to put services in but not all of them at all. We still don’t want a great increase in our elderly population.

“They are going to get carers and we know, particularly at the moment, that there aren’t enough of them and it’s not easy to recruit. There are still lots of issues.”

The committee agreed to object to the application on the grounds it was not significant differently from the previous one.

South Oxfordshire District Council, the planning authority, is due to make a final decision by June 30.

More News:

Latest video from

VIDEO: Tributes paid after rugby player's death

POLL: Have your say