Monday, 23 September 2019

Arrogant, greedy developer wants to destroy my rural haven, says estate owner

Arrogant, greedy developer wants to destroy my rural haven, says estate owner

A WEALTHY landowner has accused a developer that wants to build 60 homes next door to his estate of being arrogant and greedy.

Wayne Burt, the owner of Pyrton Manor, near Watlington, says the development would be “excessive ubranisation” of a beautiful rural area and it would be “reckless” to allow it.

The businessman was responding to plans by Providence Land to build on a field west of Pyrton Lane which abuts his land.

The site is one of three earmarked for housing in the Watlington neighbourhood plan, which was approved at a referendum last year.

Dr Burt also objects to a second application by the developer for more than 100 homes east of Pyrton Lane on a site that has not been earmarked for development.

In his response to the company’s application to South Oxfordshire District Council, the planning authority, Dr Burt says he objects in the “strongest possible terms” to the “gross urbanisation” and “despoiling” of the historic parklands of Pyrton Manor and Shirburn Castle.

He says: “This is completely out of place in the proposed location and would be hugely detrimental to the ancient strip parish of Pyrton.

“Moreover, there are far more suitable and less impactful options available for building new houses in the Watlington (and indeed wider) area.

“It would be reckless in the extreme to allow the excessive urbanisation on the edge of this beautiful parish by granting permission... (and knowing full well that the developers will come back for second and third bites to push the eventual density towards 100 houses).

“This is in addition to the separate application by the same developer for 100-plus houses east of Pyrton Lane.

“This would effectively destroy the integrity of the Pyrton parish and merge it into a continual urbanisation, which extends from Pyrton to the far extremes of Watlington.

“Surely it is part of your planning remit to protect the most beautiful of the rural villages that still exist in their ancient form?

“Both Pyrton Manor and Shirburn Castle parklands sit beautifully and serenely in their ancient settings, flanking either side of the Pyrton strip village.

“To add an urban sprawl to these two ancient houses and parklands would seem to be planning madness and a weak-kneed response to opportunistic developers.

“The developers are clearly opportunistic and are adopting a scattergun approach to the lodging of the maximum number of applications regardless of the planning merits of any particular location. 

“Moreover, to my knowledge, the developers have not had the decency to consult with anyone in Pyrton regarding their proposal.

“This is arrogance in the extreme from avaricious developers sitting in London who have scant regard for the beauty of the area and the lifestyle of those people who have chosen to live here, many for multiple decades.”

Dr Burt raises concerns about the impact on the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Beauty as well as the risk of flooding, noise, traffic and light pollution.

He is also concerned about the proposed Watlington bypass, or “edge road” to the west and north of the town that relies on the development of the other two sites in the neighbourhood plan.

One is on land off Cuxham Road where Providence Land has submitted plans for 70 homes and the other is at a pig farm between the B4009 Britwell Road and the B480 Cuxham Road where developers Archstone and Bloor Homes have applied for permission to build 183 homes.

The three developers have agreed to deliver a section of a bypass, which is seen as vital in reducing traffic and improving air quality in the town centre.

Dr Burt has submitted legal advice to the council that suggests there is no need for the relief road.

Simon Randle, a London barrister specialising in planning and environment, was asked by a number of residents, some of whom are major landowners in the area and likely to be affected by both new housing and the road.

He says: “I cannot currently understand the basis for the promotion of the relief road, the nature of, or the justification for it, or why it is thought necessary or how it is to be funded.

“In my view and based on my experience, if the reason for promoting the construction of a new road to bypass an existing road was to tackle an existing air quality problem, the information would be readily available to demonstrate why a new road was not only necessary to address the problem but further that it had to be built as intended in order to justify the construction.

“I have not been able to find any definitive answer to the questions, ‘Why is a relief road required, why is it necessary and should it follow the route corridor suggested?’

“Such a position is surprising given that the possibility exists that owners of land, which would include developers, may be deprived of their land or at least parts of it to address an existing problem that others may be responsible to address.

“Given that the use of compulsory purchase cannot be ruled out in those circumstances... I would have anticipated a clear statement of why that is justified and a clear explanation of what was intended in a document that was written following the relevant investigation and taking into account all relevant considerations. 

“Roads are not simply built. They are built for an identified purpose, if for no other reason that someone’s land may be taken against their will; given the indication in the district council’s alignment that would involve land from one of my clients who has no desire to sell.”

Another objector is Cuxham with Easington Parish Meeting (parish council), which says the development would lead to a “major increase” in traffic going through Cuxham.

It adds: “Should the applications be approved, we would request that conditions are included that provide mitigation funded by these developments to alleviate Cuxham’s dangerous traffic volume and speed issues and ensure that construction traffic does not travel along the B480 through Cuxham.”

The district council is due to make a decision on Providence Lane’s 60-home application by September 17.

Watlington Parish Council will discuss all the applications at a special meeting on August 28.

Archstone and Bloor have appealed after South Oxfordshire District Council failed to make a decision on its application to build 183 homes at the pig farm and a public inquiry will be held in October. The developers have also submitted a second application.

Planning consultants Howard Sharp & Partners, the agent for the Providence application, refused to comment.

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