Agenda item

Application No. 192312 - The Atrium and Pool Court, Thames Street, Sonning, RG4 6UR

Recommendation: Conditional approval


Proposal: Full application for the proposed construction of an external swimming pool and ornamental pond to the rear of The Atrium, regrading of garden land at Pool Court (retrospective) and amendments to approved landscaping schemes proposed in connection with applications 181850, 173369 (Pool Court) and 180857 (The Atrium)


Applicant: Mr and Mrs T and C Murphy


The Committee received and reviewed a report about this application, set out in agenda pages 143 to 172.


The Committee were advised that the Members’ Update included:


·           Clarification that due to the Christmas and New Year period, it was appropriate to extend the submission deadlines of lighting and landscaping details (Conditions 3 and 4) by a month;

·           Removal of references to Pool Court in the heading and content of Condition 13.


Trefor Fisher, Sonning Parish Council, spoke in objection to the application. Trefor stated that Sonning parish Council felt strongly about this application and had taken professional advice over a number of issues relating to this application. Trefor stated that the Parish Council appreciated the withdrawal of the tennis court lighting, and noted that some further plan submissions were still required. Trefor added that this site had a history of retrospective planning applications, and noted that the land had been raised on the north-western side of the Atrium. Trefor was of the opinion that the proposals would have a negative effect on the soft edge of the site, and asked that this application be deferred until the additional plans had been submitted and fully consulted on. Trefor stated that the Parish Council would like a formal condition limiting the outbuilding to incidental usage only, and a further condition prohibiting tennis court lighting in future.


Adrian Gould, agent, spoke in support of the application. Adrian clarified that it was the previous owners’ wishes to demolish the existing structures, however this was not the intentions of the current owners who instead wanted to improve the site. Adrian stated that the proposed driveway was outside of the root protection area of the nearest tree, and clarified that it was not a material consideration to change the boundary of two existing properties. Adrian added that the replacement tennis court was lower than the previous court and was therefore less conspicuous to neighbours. Adrian stated that the rear boundary would now be covered by a native hedgerow, which had a positive impact on the views from the towpath. Adrian added that drainage proposals had been approved with building control, and surface and foul water drainage proposals had also been agreed.


Michael Firmager, Ward Member, spoke in objection to the application. Michael stated that the Atrium would be visible from the towpath and the proposals could have a negative impact on drainage. Michael added that if these two issues were resolved, he had no further issues with this application. Michael stated that he was determined to protect the character of the historic Sonning village, with this application being situated within the Sonning conservation area.


Simon Weeks queried what the balance was when considering this application with a conservation area, and whether the proposals would be visible from the towpath. Simon Taylor, Case Officer, stated that the tennis court lighting had been removed from the application as it was not deemed to have fitted in within the context of the conservation area. With regards to the towpath view, Simon Taylor stated that there was a hedgerow along the site boundary with some further replacement trees due to be planted. The landscaping Officer had found the proposals acceptable and it was conditioned that the natural ground levels be retained.


Simon Weeks queried whether condition 13 stopped the outbuilding being used on office, and whether a condition could be added to stop tennis court lighting being installed. Simon Taylor stated that both condition 13 and the additional comments contained within the Members’ Update restricted the usage of the outbuilding to incidental usage. With regards to the tennis court lighting, Simon Taylor stated that a condition could not be added that precluded a future planning application. It was clarified that a planning application would be required prior to installation of any tennis court lighting in future.


Stephen Conway queried whether more emphasis could be added to condition 10, to allow the protection of trees within the conservation area beyond the standard 5 year time limit. Simon Weeks suggested that clarification be added to the reasoning behind condition 10, this was subsequently seconded and agreed by the Committee.


Andrew Mickleburgh queried whether the Committee could be confident that the proposed landscaping changes would not lead to additional flooding. Simon Weeks stated that via the consultation responses, drainage Officers had raised no objections to the proposals and they were acting in their professional capacity as experts in this area. Simon Taylor added that hard surfacing was only being added to permeable areas of the site and the swimming pool.


RESOLVED That application number 192312 be approved, subject to conditions and informative as set out in agenda pages 144 to 148, extension of the submission deadlines relating to Conditions 3 and 4 as set out in the Members’ Update, removal of reference to Pool Court in the heading and content of Condition 13 as set out in the Members’ Update, and additional clarification of the reasoning behind Condition 10 as resolved by the Committee.  

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