Agenda item

Application No.200951 - Sonning Golf Club, Duffield Road, Woodley, RG4 6GJ

Recommendation: Conditional approval subject to legal agreement


Proposal:Application for the approval of reserved matters pursuant to outline planning consent 161529 (APP/X0360/W/17/3167142) for the erection of 13 dwellings with associated highway works, public open space and landscaping. Details of Layout, Appearance, Landscaping and Scale to be determined.


Applicant: Mr Chris Rees, Alfred Homes


The Committee received and reviewed a report, set out in agenda pages 107 to 164.


The Committee were advised that the Members’ Update included:


·           Amendment to recommendation A;

·           Updated to condition 2 to include the approved plans.


In line with the given deadlines, four public written submissions were received for this item. These submissions were circulated to Members in advance, and noted on the evening. The submissions as provided can be found below.


Sonning Parish Council provided the following submission in objection to the application:


Sonning is a Limited Development Location with limited access to shopping facilities and opportunities to access facilities within acceptable walking distance. Occupiers would rely heavily on cars. Properties immediately to the left of the site are low, 1 ½ to 2 storey, individually designed dwellings, contributing to the area’s rural character. The plot, together with the Golf Club is in the countryside, where inappropriate development is considered ‘harmful’ and acts as a green buffer between Sonning and Woodley.


The outline plans (161529), allowed at appeal, included an illustrative view of the proposed development, showing modest detached 1 ½ storey dwellings, some detached, some semi-detached and a terrace of three.


The proposed dwellings are large 2 ½ storey dwellings of some height, that will tower over neighbouring dwellings and aimed at larger families than previously indicated. The 8 ‘5’ bedroom, detached dwellings all have ‘bonus’ rooms on the second floor and must be considered as 6-bedroomed. Therefore, is sufficient parking provided?


These changes will have a greater impact on the area than previously suggested at Appeal and represents overdevelopment of the site and are out of keeping with the area due to their height, bulk and size.


The Appeal Inspector said of 161529 ‘it is likely that the layout would be of an increased density and less spacious than the majority of surrounding development. The residential development would also diminish the existing value of green open space when viewed from adjacent residential properties’ This assessment was based on the illustrative view provided with the application. The impact will be so much greater if the proposed much larger dwellings are approved. 


The Inspector also said: ‘The proposal would be contrary to the countryside protection, environmental quality and landscape protection aims of policies CP1, CP3, CP9 and CP11 of the Core Strategy and policies CC02 and TB21 of the Wokingham Borough Managing Development Delivery Local Plan 2014 (MDD)’.


In December 2019, Sonning Parish Council carried out a speed survey along that stretch of Pound Lane with support from WBC Highway Officers, in December 2019. A daily vehicle count of almost 7000 a day southbound towards the proposed entrance/exit, which equates to 14000 vehicles per day. Speeds of 65 mph and 60 mph, were recorded, indicating how dangerous the proposed exit would be, which is close to the scene of a recent fatal accident.”


Paul Etherington, resident, provided the following submission in objection to the application:


“The planning reasons highlighted in my, and many others’ previous submissions in relation to this site/development remain, but the Planning Inspectorate regrettably elected to ignore them for reason of land supply which remains contested.


I would highlight that since the previous substantive application, Pound Lane, that many objectors highlighted as a dangerous stretch of road, has tragically seen a fatal accident.  We highlighted:



      that the proposed access point is on a bend

      dangerously close to the points at which Mustard Lane, Duffield Road & West Drive join Pound Lane


Had the applicant chosen to provide site access through the golf club car park (ringed on their plan) perhaps at the indicated point into the car park it would be considerably less dangerous than the position proposed.    

It would also avoid the developer cutting through the tree line/verge which are owned by Wokingham Borough and covered by Tree Preservation Order TPO 1505/2015. Notwithstanding that one mature TPO’d oak tree was mysteriously felled over a Bank Holiday weekend, it is sprouting well from what was left and there are still a number of trees and an attractive hedgerow making up the street scene (which officers previously highlighted as valuable).”


Chris Rees, applicant, provided the following submission in support of the application:


“1.1 This Statement has been prepared in support of the consideration of the Reserved Matters Application on land at Sonning Golf Club, pursuant to the Outline Planning Approval granted for the erection of 13 dwellings on land adjacent to the Golf Club, at which point the principle and the vehicular access for thirteen dwellings was approved.

1.2 The Reserved Matters application has been the subject of a pre-application submission with the Borough Council and has therefore been shaped by the advice received from Officers concerning the siting, scale, landscaping and appearance of the houses in line with best practice advocated by the Council.

1.3 As per the Outline Approval, the proposal consists of eight open market properties and five affordable housing properties, set around a central landscaped green. The houses are tenure blind and adopt a classical approach to their architecture and built form.

1.4 The proposal has been supported by a detailed landscape and planting plan, the focus of which is the shared green space within the centre of the development to which the residents have access and can enjoy.

1.5 The application has been the subject of full due diligence with account taken of the distances and orientation to the adjacent residential dwelling to the north and the long-term preservation of the trees on site subject to the tree preservation order.

1.6 Moreover, the proposal has been shaped and formed with Officers, with no objections from any statutory consultee and with a resulting architectural approach that will add to the character of the area and deliver an array of housing types and tenure.

1.7 With the principal of residential development and the access already established, we would respectfully ask that the outstanding Reserved Matters for the 13 new homes before the Committee today are approved.”


Michael Firmager, Ward Member, provided the following submission in objection to the application:


“I was aware this application as a major development would come before the Planning Committee if officers were minded to approve the application.   However, I listed the application as the local Borough Council Member.

I am against this application for the following reasons:-


1)    It is out of character with the area.  Also, it is overbearing and with restricted room for development;


2)    It is inconsistent with the conditions set out by the Appeal Inspector, especially with the increase in the height of the buildings, which is of detriment to the character to the village;


3)    The access will be onto Pound Lane causes me great concern, which is extremely dangerous being on a bend.  Pound Lane itself can be either a fast road or one with traffic jams depending upon the amount of traffic on the A4 going into Reading or onto the A329(M).  This development will only add more traffic to an already over loaded road network.


I hope this committee will take on my comments mentioned here and before, together with those of Sonning Parish Council and the Sonning & Sonning Eye Society and refuse this application.”


Members were asked in turn for any comments or queries on this application. Specific comments or queries are summarised below.


Simon Weeks commented that an Inspector had approved a previous application for this site at appeal, which approved access to the site. Simon queried whether the Inspector would have been aware that a TPO tree would be required to be removed at the site. Justin Turvey, Operational Manager – Development Management, stated that an inevitable result of the Inspector’s decision to approve the grant of planning permission was that TPO trees would have to be removed. Simon queried how many new trees would be planted on the site. Senjuti Manna, case officer, stated that 25 new trees and 16 large shrubs would be planted as part of this application.


Chris Bowring commented that although the outline application had approved the access to the site, the layout of that proposal was also a material consideration. Chris added that he Inspector had commented that the 13 new houses would help to provide for the housing shortfall in the area.


Stephen Conway commented that the Committee were constrained by the Inspectors previous decision regarding this site. Stephen added that there was an unfortunate relationship between the garages of plots 2 & 3 and neighbouring property no.101a, however this was unlikely to constitute a reason for refusal.


Carl Doran queried whether the junction improvement had been carried out, and whether the affordable housing units were of a similar scale and kind as the other housing units. Judy Kelly, Highways Development Manager, stated that the technical approval for the junction improvement was going through at the moment, and the improvements should be carried out shortly after approval. Justin Turvey stated that the affordable housing units were the same as the other housing units in a planning sense, as they met the relevant planning tests. Wokingham Borough Council’s (WBC’s) affordable housing team had specified their preferred mix of affordable units for this site, based on local need.


Pauline Jorgensen queried what the bonus rooms could be used for. Justin Turvey stated that a bonus room was a type of terminology used by developers, and that in essence the room could be used by the eventual buyer for any desired usage within reason.


Abdul Loyes queried why plot 13 had a 10m rear amenity distance, compared to the 11m rear amenity distance that plots 10 through 12 for example. Senjuti Manna stated that although the Borough Design Guide suggested an 11m rear amenity distance, the TPO trees to the rear of plot 13 constrained the length of the garden. However, plot 13 was wider than plots 10 through 12, and therefore had a larger rear garden area overall and was therefore deemed acceptable.


Andrew Mickleburgh queried how the density of the site compared to the outline application, asked why the application before the Committee included two and a half storey buildings compared to one and a half storey buildings considered at appeal, and queried whether the impact on local services such as GP surgeries and schools as a result of the additional housing was a material consideration. Simon Weeks confirmed that any development of any size added additional strain for local services, and S106 or CIL contributions funded local amenity provision. Senjuti Manna stated that the density of 16.25 habitable rooms per hectare was the same as proposed at the allowed appeal. Senjuti added that plans which the Inspector considered had buildings up to 10.2m in height which was equivalent to two and a half storeys, therefore there was no significant difference. Senjuti added that the site now had an additional 300m2 plot coverage compared to the plot considered by the Inspector.


Malcolm Richards queried how the 13 unallocated parking spaces would be managed. Senjuti Manna stated that condition 8 included a car parking management plan, which would also cover unallocated parking spaces on the site.


Angus Ross asked for confirmation as to how the required number of parking spaces was calculated. Judy Kelly confirmed that this calculation was based on a formula which was inputted into a spreadsheet based on the number of habitable rooms on site. Judy added that a garage was classed as half of a parking space.


Rachelle Shepherd-DuBey queried whether photovoltaic panels were being implemented at the proposed development. Justin Turvey stated that there was no indication that photovoltaic panels were planned for the site, and this was not a planning matter. Simon Weeks added that until this issue was backed up by local and national planning policy WBC could not insist on an applicant installing photovoltaic panels at a development.


Simon Weeks proposed that an informative be added, stating that WBC was keen to be an early adopter for new developments within the Borough to install technology to minimise carbon output, and the Committee wished to encourage the applicant to incorporate appropriate technologies at this development to meet WBC’s goal. This was unanimously agreed by the Committee, and added to the list of informatives as contained in the officer report.


RESOLVED That application number 200951 be approved, subject to conditions and informatives as set out in agenda pages 108 to 112, amendment to Recommendation A an updated condition 2 as set out in the Members’ Update, and additional informative asking the applicant to consider installing technologies to minimise the carbon output of the dwellings, as resolved by the Committee.

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