Despite the start of the demolition of the old Wyevale Garden centre buildings in the last week, South Oxfordshire District Council have this week refused the full planning application to develop the site.
Beechcroft Developments submitted plans to provide 55 new homes including 22 affordable units and a commercial building (Use Class E/F) with 25 of the homes in 3 storey high apartments. Beechcroft had previously submitted an application for 40 homes. They gained demolition permission to clear the site. The Joint Henley & Harpsden Neighbourhood Plan includes 40 homes on this site.
In the notice, issued by Head of Planning Adrian Duffield, it states that the plans does not provide enough range and type of accommodation for families or amenity space, there are problems with drainage (similar to that of Thames Farm), there is not enough protection of trees, not enough information on biodiversity and the development itself is out of character of this rural edge location.
The notice states:
- The proposed affordable units would be heavily weighted towards small apartments, which would not provide a range and type of accommodation suitable for families.
- The application is not supported by a biodiversity metric assessment. As such, it is not possible to assess whether the proposed development would enhance biodiversity and if any impacts can be avoided, mitigated, or as a last resort, compensated fully.
- The drainage features associated with the proposed development would be within the root protection areas of trees that are protected by a Tree Preservation Order. The proposal would therefore threaten the health and longevity of trees on site that are significant landscape features.
- The extent of built development across the site, combined with the scale and height of some buildings and the lack of open space to break up the built form, would result in a dense development that would not be in keeping with the character of this rural edge location.
- The proposed development would not incorporate an adequate amount of quality amenity space for each residential unit. The amount of usable public open space would also be limited, and the quality of the space would be poor.
- The proposed development fails to demonstrate an appropriate drainage strategy for the site, including its location in a Source Protection Zone 1.
Henley Town, Harpsden Parish and Shiplake Parish all recommended refusal of the application on the same basis above.