Sunday, 25 August 2019

Reservoir mobile homes plan revived

PLANS to build mobile homes at a former reservoir in Woodcote have been revived.

Richard Hazell has submitted a second planning application to South Oxfordshire District Council to redevelop the old Thames Water site in Greenmore.

The businessman, from Whitchurch Hill, has planning permission for 20 houses on the 0.49-hectare plot but says these can’t be built as a live water main runs under the site and can’t be moved to dig foundations.

In 2017 he applied for permission for 16 mobile units but was refused as the site is earmarked for 20 homes in the Woodcote neighbourhood plan and he wasn’t proposing any “affordable” units.

Mr Hazell appealed but was turned down by planning inspector Rosalyn Kirby who said the principle was acceptable but objected to the specific layout and the lack of affordable homes.

Now Mr Hazell, who owns road surfacing firm Hazell & Jefferies, is seeking permission for mobile units in principle and says the details can be agreed in a separate planning application.

Although the site could take up to 25, in practice he says there would be fewer in order to provide adequate parking, landscaping and shared amenities.

His agent Frank Dixon, of Cholsey, says mobile homes are ideal for older people wishing to downsize or younger people looking for their first home, both of whom are poorly served in Woodcote at the moment.

Mr Dixon says the units, also known as park homes, can cost up to 50 per cent less than a small ordinary home and the proposal would give buyers in the village a wider choice.

He says they meet environmental standards and have the same facilities as modern homes like double glazing and central heating and people’s opposition to them is based on outdated information.

Mr Dixon says: “There still exists a readily identifiable prejudice against the use of residential caravans, seemingly based on associations with poor quality caravans manufactured decades ago… the modern product is simply a fully-furnished and comfortable home manufactured off site.”

He says the homes wouldn’t be more than 3.05m tall so would have no visual impact on their surroundings and they could be occupied as soon as they were installed.

Mr Dixon argues that the principle of residential use has been established and the council’s local plan says mobile homes are “an acceptable and relatively cheap form of home ownership” while the Woodcote neighbourhood plan doesn’t mention mobile homes.

The district council will make a decision by March 22.

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