Villagers Traffic Worries

Villagers worry over traffic and noise from new homes

RESIDENTS have criticised plans for 50 new homes in Sonning Common.

Linden Homes and Patricia Pelly, who owns Bishopswood Farm, have applied for permission to develop land off Reades Lane, which backs on to Ashford Avenue. The 7.7-hectare site is earmarked for 50 homes in the village’s draft neighbourhood plan. They also want to transfer ownership of a piece of neighbouring land from Mrs Pelly to Sonning Common Parish Council so it can be used for recreation, as suggested in the neighbourhood plan. Linden Homes wants to build four one-bedroom flats and 46 houses with between two and four bedrooms, 40 per cent of which would be “affordable”.

The site is only 450 yards from land currently used as playing fields by Chiltern Edge School that is earmarked for 37 homes in the plan. Nine people have lodged objections with South Oxfordshire District Council, the planning authority, while two have registered their support.

Nigel Gough, who lives in Reades Lane, said that if both developments went ahead it would have a “detrimental” effect on a quiet, rural area. “Reades Lane will have traffic that it will not be able to cope with,” he said. “Even now at peak times the lane becomes gridlocked.

“While I realise that we need to build more houses in Sonning Common, it is wholly unfair that such a large proportion of this housing would be concentrated in this corner of the village. This proposal is reasonable but must be considered as an either/or proposal with the school playing fields site.”

Jane and Ian Scholey, who also live in Reades Lane, claimed the developer was trying to “rush” the application through by making it look as if the development was in line with the draft plan. They also claimed that part of the neighbouring site not earmarked for recreation use could be developed in future. The Scholeys added: “The plan has still not been finalised. Why the impatience regarding these two sites?” Susan Pigden, of Orchard Avenue, said: “It would be more appropriate if this development could be delayed and included in the neighbourhood development plan so that the 50 new homes would not be in addition to the allocation for the village.” Jean Thompson, of Lambourne Road, said: “I am not in favour of so many houses right next to my house. I have been here 40 years so having so many people next to me will be noisy.

“I am not in favour of a big development or sports facilities. Fewer houses and landscaping would blend with the area better.”

A number of residents expressed concern about transfer of the land earmarked for recreational use.
Penny Snowden, of Kennylands Road, said: “The transfer of land to the parish council makes no mention of money to pay for amenities or maintenance of the land. It is unrealistic to consider it a community facility without funding being provided as well.”

Sharon Garnett, of Ashford Avenue, raised concerns about noise and dust during the development. She said: “I am not happy having properties built in front of mine. The reason I bought my property was because of the open fields and I have already had the building company visit me and I aired my opinion.” But Adrian Vanheems, of Baskerville Road, said: “As extra housing is necessary, this is a good place to put it, especially if we are to gain new leisure facilities as a result. “I hope the developers bear in mind that each home will have at least two cars, which will need to be accommodated off road in order to preserve the appearance and safety of the estate.”

In a covering letter with the application to South Oxfordshire District Council, Stuart Miles, associate director at Development Planning and Design Services, of Swindon, says:

“The site is allocated in the current and previous draft Sonning Common neighbourhood development plan for a mix of residential development and sports and recreation facilities. Delivery of the sports facility is a key objective for Sonning Common, so the proposal has achieved substantial support and should therefore be considered to carry substantial weight. While the site is on the edge of the Chilterns Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the provision of sports and recreation facilities meets the exceptional circumstances/public interest tests set out in the National Planning Policy Framework. Furthermore, the substantial landscaping scheme proposed would enhance the setting of the local area and therefore the AONB.”

Sonning Common Parish Council’s planning committee will discuss the application at a public meeting in the village hall on February 8 at 7.30pm.

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