Wednesday, 08 July 2020

Landowner agrees deal with village over fence

A LANDOWNER has reached a compromise with villagers over his plans to fence off his estate to protect it from intruders.

David Pain has been granted planning permission to erect a 2.2m high fence along a section of Hartslock bridleway, off High Street, Whitchurch, which runs along the boundary of his Coombe Park estate.

The vertical timber palings will replace a 2.4m steel spiked fence, which he put up without permission last year.

South Oxfordshire District Council, the planning authority, ordered him to submit a retrospective application after residents and the parish council complained, saying the design was unsuitable for its rural surroundings and too near the road so it would force pedestrians to step into the path of traffic

The new fence will still have a green steel frame but will be further back from the verge.

Mr Pain has also been given permission to install fencing of a similar design along the western boundary of the estate’s driveway off Manor Road, which runs behind the village hall.

He originally wanted this to be taller and made of steel as he feared the driveway was a vulnerable access point for criminals.

However, objectors said this would deprive the hall of natural light and deter potential hirers.

There were originally 28 objections from neighbours but only nine opposed the revised plans. Seven were broadly in favour but still had reservations about the visual impact on the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Planning officers said the timber fencing wouldn’t significantly alter views and it would be “unreasonable” and to be “overly prescriptive” about the design and open to challenge.

They said there was no harm in the proposed removal of a number of non-native trees.

Jim Donahue, chairman of Whitchurch Parish Council, said: “We’re very pleased that they’ve come back with a wooden fence as the main issue was the use of steel with spikes.

“It wasn’t in keeping with the AONB or the Thames Path so the new design is a huge improvement which we welcome and we’ll be in contact with the owner to find out when they’re going to replace it.

“We have a few concerns, for example about animals getting trapped underneath it, so we’ll work with the estate to make sure they leave enough room.

“We completely understand the need for security and we’re very thankful to the owner for co-operating with the planning system to reach a satisfactory resolution.”

Mr Pain bought the 125-acre country estate for a reported £10 million in 2018 after it had lain derelict for a number of years.

The 19th-century residence and its grounds, which served as a convalescent home for US airmen during the Second World War, hadn’t been maintained in decades so were a target for “urban explorers” who would sneak in to take photos and videos. There were also reports of youths using the site to take drugs, vandalise the structure and start fires.

After Mr Pain moved in, he regularly found intruders on the site so he hired a private security company.

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