Tuesday, 09 August 2022

Residents oppose plans for 95 new homes in village

MORE than 150 people have objected to plans for 95 new homes in Sonning Common.

Gallagher Estates, of Warwick, wants permission to build on 6.65 hectares of land off Kennylands Road.

But the village’s neighbourhood plan, which passed a referendum in September, has earmarked just 1.5 hectares of the site for 26 homes.

Sonning Common and Kidmore End Parish Councils both oppose the plans and about 50 villagers attended a public meeting last month to voice their concerns.

Residents are worried that the neighbourhood plan, which received 94 per cent support, could be ignored when Gallagher’s application is considered by South Oxfordshire District Council, the planning authority.

Patricia Rockell, of Grove Road, said: “The parish council has worked tirelessly over the past four to five years identifying the areas in the village where new developments could be placed.

“To go against the carefully considered plan and the wishes of our local community would be completely wrong.” David Irwin, of Wood Lane, added: “A plan has been agreed and our district council should support that. Remember that we elect councillors to support and act in our best interests.”

Sue Rawlins, of Woodland Road, said: “As one of the many hundreds of residents who gave time and energy to assist the team in the development of the plan, why am I now having to spend more time raising my objection to a planning application that is so flagrantly ignoring the plan?

“If this were to be approved it would jeopardise the future of all neighbourhood plans, trample all over the Localism Act and discourage anyone from volunteering to help with any new initiative in the future.”

Alex Scott, of Kennylands Road, said: “Great care has been taken with the Sonning Common neighbourhood plan to allow for sufficient housing to be constructed without overwhelming the infrastructure and amenities of the village as a whole. This proposal would set a dangerous precedent of exceeding the house-building requirements, overstretching the existing infrastructure and compromising the character of not only Kennylands Road but the village as a whole.”

Martin Seccombe, of Westleigh Drive, said: “I voted for the neighbourhood plan in the belief that the district council would then work with the residents of the village to agree appropriate, manageable growth in the provision of extra homes while protecting features of the village that make it such a pleasant place to live.

“I hope that conviction will not prove naïve.”

John Pearman, of Kennylands Road, said: “The way the district council can salvage its reputation with all communities in the district who have been actively encouraged to prepare neighbourhood plans is to unanimously reject this outline application.

“If the applicant chooses to go to appeal then we and the district council move on in partnership to the next stage in the battle to let the will of the people be heard.”

Gallagher says its plans are a better use of the site and would help the district council, who has failed to identify enough immediately available land in South Oxfordshire to meet housing demand for the next five years.

The company’s consultants Barton Willmore, of Reading, say: “The proposed development would deliver up to 95 new homes in a sustainable location, as acknowledged by the allocation of part of the site in the neighbourhood development plan and the status afforded Sonning Common in the adopted core strategy as a ‘larger village’.

“The site benefits from close proximity to existing bus stops on Kennylands Road, with frequent bus services connecting the site with surrounding centres, including Reading.

“The site is within a reasonable walk and cycle distance of the facilities and amenities available within Sonning Common.

“Non-car modes of travel will be encouraged through the provision of a new footpath on the site frontage along Kennylands Road.”

Emmer Green Residents’ Association has also objected to the application.

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