Thu, 19 Dec 2019
PROPOSALS for a new multi-purpose development in East Woodhay have been supported by the parish council despite fierce local opposition.
Emily von Opel – wife to billionaire Georg von Opel – bought Sungrove Farm, East End, in 2016, and is now proposing to build a mixed-use building on the land to go alongside the farm.
The application includes plans to demolish a 1980s farmhouse and erect the new building, which will house a farm shop, gift shop, bakery, plant nursery, café and education space.
The plans also include proposals to demolish a dilapidated barn and erect a much smaller agricultural dwelling on the site of the barn.
Mrs von Opel – who has lived across the road at Malverleys Garden for nearly 10 years – said the proposals for Sungrove Farm were socially rather than commercially driven, environmentally-conscious with a focus on local produce and could act as a community hub for the hamlet.
“I love the area and how it’s rural and quiet and I wanted to give something back to the community,” said the mother-of-four.
“I think it’s a wonderful meeting place – it’s nice to have a place to walk to and have a cup of coffee, a slice of cake and a conversation with others.
“I think people are afraid of change, but this will be a good change.”
In order to keep visitor numbers down, seating in the proposed café and dining area will be limited and there will only be 24 customer spaces in the car park.
Mrs von Opel said: “We don’t want the new building to be too overwhelming.
“I’ve always wanted the scheme to incorporate a range of uses, but I’d also like to create a friendly, comfortable and homely atmosphere, which is much more achievable on a modest scale and entirely appropriate for a rural setting.”
The planning application – which had been downsized considerably after criticisms of the scale of the original plans – was given the support of the East Woodhay Parish Council on Monday, December 2, with chairman James Mitchell casting the deciding vote after the original vote was tied with four votes apiece.
Despite this reduction, many East End locals are still angry at the prospect of the enterprise coming to the village.
Residents have produced a leaflet opposing the development, citing that it was in an area of natural beauty, the traffic congestion caused by service lorries and increase in vehicles, the danger of increased traffic on horse riders, dog walkers and cyclists, and the effect of noise and light pollution on the hamlet.
East End resident Christine Crerar said: “The roads are far too narrow – the road that’s outside my house, which is less than 100 yards from the entrance to Sungrove Farm, is nine-feet across. You can’t pass.
“There are no passing areas, it’s all single track roads. There are no pavements or lights.
“The area is completely quiet so we have an awful lot of horse riders, cyclists and walkers. All these people will be endangered by having a lot of traffic from outside the area who don’t know the roads.
“If it’s to be commercially viable, 95 per cent of the people will have to come by car – which is totally against what everybody is trying to do at the moment. If it’s not commercially viable, why bother?”