Mon, 19 Oct 2020
THE battle for a commercial garden centre-style development in East End goes on after applicant Emily von Opel submitted new documents aiming to alleviate objectors’ concerns.
Mrs von Opel – who is married to billionaire Georg von Opel – plans to demolish a 1980s farmhouse on Sungrove Farm and construct a new building, to house a farm and gift shop, bakery, plant nursery, café and education space.
The project has attracted local opposition and in March East Woodhay Parish Council reversed its support following input from the North Wessex Downs Area of Natural Beauty (AONB), which argued the development’s location would have a detrimental impact on the surrounding area.
Now, Mrs von Opel, who lives opposite the proposed site in the Malverleys, has submitted four new assessments on the impact of the scheme on air quality, noise, lighting and transport to the site, hoping to convince concerned East End villagers that the development will be a net positive to the area and not damage the hamlet or surrounding countryside.
Mrs von Opel argues that while there would be artificial light created, mitigation measures mean it would not be obtrusive, and the development would have little noise impact on local residents through proper design.
A fifth document directly responding to objectors’ concerns states: “The proposals for a farm shop, café/restaurant and the other uses, need to be considered in the context that East End used to support two pubs and a post office.
“East End is a settlement that is more than capable of supporting modest new commercial uses which are available to the community.
“We do not consider the proposals will conflict with the conservation and enhancement of the natural and scenic beauty of this part of the AONB.
“The site is not undeveloped green land within the AONB, it is an established farm complex.
“Further, the scheme involves substantial landscape and biodiversity enhancements, the proposals will result in an overall reduction in built form on the site and the concept of the scheme is based on a celebration of the local landscape and nature.”
Despite the new supporting documents, the parish council has once again reiterated its opposition to the project.
It said: “The four additional reports submitted in support of this application – which the committee has considered carefully – serve only to intensify opposition of the committee to it.
“Indeed, the more information supplied by the applicant, the more apparent it becomes that this proposed development will have an enormous and irredeemable impact on the hamlet of East End and the surrounding area.
“Firstly, there is no planning imperative to support it.
“Secondly, it is environmentally hostile and unsustainable.
“Thirdly, and perhaps most importantly, it does not have the support of the vast majority of the community for whose benefit it purports to serve.
“For these reasons, the committee continues to recommend refusal of this application.
“The overall adverse impact on the hamlet of this mixed purpose, commercial enterprise is unacceptable, and certainly outweighs any potential benefits which such a development might bring to the area.”
To view the application, go to the Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council’s planning website and enter the reference 19/02956/FUL.
The application will now go to the borough council for a final decision.