Friday, 19 April 2019

Neighbours in protest at flats over traffic and lack of parking

A NEW block of flats in a Wargrave street would cause parking chaos, say residents and councillors.

Rob Riddout and Nigel Dearman want to demolish a house in Victoria Road and build the block of five one-bedroom flats.

They say this would provide much-needed smaller properties for people looking to downsize and that each flat would be provided with an on-site parking space.

But neighbours say the site is on a busy junction used by children going to school and the development would exacerbate parking problems in Victoria Road and Hamilton Road, which adjoins it.

In a planning statement, the developers say: “The current dwelling is an elevated, unattractive two-storey house on a prominent site.

“The proposed flat development has been sited to maintain an acceptable relationship with neighbouring dwellings.

“Adequate on-site parking can be provided for the development along with compliant visibility splays, so there will be no highway safety or parking issues.

“Wargrave is well-served by public transport and facilities and thus is a sustainable settlement where further development is supported.”

Architect Adrian Collett told a meeting of Wargrave Parish Council on Monday that much of the building would be surrounded by a 1.8m high fence with pedestrian and vehicle access on to Hamilton Road.

He said only three of the flats would have amenity space but all would be “massively” over Wokingham Borough Council’s minimum size requirements for flats. He added: “In terms of parking, Wokingham’s requirement is slightly under one space per flat but we have gone one for one to keep as much as we can off the highway.

“We understand there are parking issues there and the junction is very busy but we can’t control that street.”

He said the development would provide housing that didn’t exist at present.

“It’s aimed at downsizers,” said Mr Collett. “Wargrave has lots of big stock and the developer wants to provide five one-bedroom homes to allow people to downsize and remain in the centre of Wargrave.”

Deborah Lancaster, of Hamilton Road, said: “The potential for a significant increase in traffic on an already busy road is a major concern.

“Increasing the driveway access, which has not been used for 11 years, to double the size will put yet more pressure on parking.

“Assuming the flats could potentially be occupied, in a worse case scenario, by couples with one car each, there is simply not room for 10 more cars.”

Mrs Lancaster said the block would overlook her home.

Peter Emms, also of Hamilton Road, said the block would be too big.

He said: “The loss of the existing rear garden and its replacement by a harsh, open car park is uncharacteristic of the traditional nature of the area and represents a loss of green space. The insertion of this intrusive urban parking element immediately next to our property will lead to a significant loss of residential amenity due to an increase in intensity of use, noise, uncharacteristic timing and intrusion from headlights.

“The junction of Hamilton Road with Victoria Road is especially busy with the chemist immediately around the corner and doctor’s surgery just opposite. As a result, parking space in the road outside is already very difficult to find, particularly for the frail and elderly who need to park close to both.

“The addition of five flats could easily mean 10 cars overflowing into Hamilton Road on a very busy corner used by parents and children on their way up Hamilton Road to the Robert Piggott Infant School.”

Councillors said that while they had no issues with the principle of smaller flats, they were worried about parking and more vehicles.

Councillor Marion Pope said: “It’s on a busy junction and a busy walking route.

“It might be one-bedroom flats but you could have two people living in one and Wargrave is a two-car place.

“If there were fewer flats it would take away the problem of the volume of vehicles. If there were three instead of five I would feel much happier.”

Councillor Andrew Luckwell said: “I think it fits in well with Victoria Road but the problem is the parking.”

The parish council agreed to object to the application on the grounds of the detrimental impact on road safety. A final decision will be made by the borough council.

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