PLANS to turn a disused village church into a three-bedroom home scraped through the planning process this week. 

The former Cholsey Free Church on Honey Lane, Cholsey, two miles south of Wallingford, is set to have one part of its existing building demolished with new rooflights and a replacement window factored into its revamp.

Cholsey Parish Council and nearby residents objected on the grounds of inadequate parking provision, casting doubt over whether a narrow access to the proposed parking spaces would actually get used, plus overlooking of neighbouring properties through new windows.

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Oxfordshire County Council’s highways department raised an objection over the access to parking being as narrow as 1.9 metres – the average width of a UK car is said to be 1.82 metres – but South Oxfordshire District Council planning officers advised that a significant increase in traffic would be unlikely. 

It noted the concerns but also that other potential uses, which would not require planning permission, such as a children’s nursery, could create far more traffic in the area. 

Objectors, the applicant and an agent for the applicant addressed the planning committee and it was resolved that the sill height of first-floor windows would be 1.8 metres to prevent overlooking, higher than the national standard of 1.7 metres. 

Six out of 10 councillors on South Oxfordshire’s planning committee agreed that officers had got the balance correct, although objections were fiercely put forward.

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One of the four who voted against, Councillor Ian Snowdon said: “Looking at the satellite image, it is a complete overdevelopment of the site.

“There is no amenity space there whatsoever. It is a three-bedroom house and there are either going to be children quite a way away from the park or three rented-out rooms for adults to live there, I don’t know where they would be able to put out their washing line, et cetera. 

“We are totally ignoring the highway safety aspect. After all, they are the experts. We are also neglecting quite a lot of the neighbourhood plan, it goes against their parking policies.

“On top of that it feels like we are being threatened that if we don’t accept this, there might be something else there or, even worse,  that it would be better than what is there at the moment, in which case we are going to get a flood of derelict buildings in the countryside with a track that leads to it [because] turning it into a house is better than what is there.”

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Councillor Peter Dragonetti, who put forward the proposal, said: “There are no reasonable alternatives for this building.”


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