Developer threatens to build chalets in conservation area

Oxford Mail: Martin Young Martin Young

A CONTROVERSIAL property developer is threatening to build three “horrible” 70s-style chalets on his property to prove a point to Oxford City Council.

It comes after Martin Young withdrew plans to renovate 29 Old High Street in Old Headington because council planning officers had recommended them for refusal despite the fact that his neighbours had raised no objections.

The house has been empty for more than five years and is in such a bad state of repair that the city council has ordered Mr Young to carry out improvement work.

Mr Young had previously hoped to knock the house down and replace it with five three-storey houses but this caused uproar in Old Headington, which is a conservation area.

Now the Headington Hill resident is hoping to prove his point by implementing a 38-year-old planning application which he says is still valid because he began the work when he purchased the house.

He said: “I did some of the demolition work when I bought the property so it seems that the planning permission which was on the property when I bought it is still in force.

“There is very little work you have to do within the deadline to keep planning permission valid.”

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In 1974 planning permission was given to turn 29 Old High Street into two flats and build three 70s-style chalets in the grounds of the house.

Every planning application which is granted is given a deadline of a few years for work to be started until it expires and Mr Young thinks the small amount of work he began in the 1970s is enough to keep this particular application in force.

He said: “I think the plans are horrible. When I bought the house I didn’t want to go ahead with it.

“This is about achieving a negotiating position with the city council where I can convince them that the planning application I withdrew last month is the best they are going to get.”

Mr Young purchased the house in 1978 but it has recently fallen into a state of disrepair leading to the city council putting an improvement order on it.

Mr Young’s plans to knock the house down were thrown out last December.

However, he took the issue to a planning inspector on appeal and the council announced it would not enforce the improvement order, which ordered him to carry out work by last March, until the appeal had been dealt with.

A planning inspector considered the proposals in August and backed the council’s decision.

In the meantime he submitted a second planning application to just renovate the house which was withdrawn after it was recommended for refusal.

City council spokesman Louisa Dean said: “We have written to Mr Young regarding all the issues involving 29 Old High Street.

“We do not feel he has provided proof that the old 1974 planning permission was ever commenced and so it is no longer capable of being implemented.

“We have informed him that we are seeking to resolve the issue regarding the improvement order and have encouraged him to carry out this work before we take further action.”

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