A CONTROVERSIAL plan to replace a rotting former scout hut with a four-bedroom house will go ahead despite an avalanche of objections from villagers.

The abandoned building on Main Street in East Challow, near Wantage, was used as a scout site until the group disbanded 16 years ago.

Since then, it has fallen into disrepair and has become overgrown with vegetation.

Vale of White Horse District Council approved the proposal unanimously at a planning committee meeting last week.

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Councillors were due to make a decision on the future of the hut in December, but this was deferred as they were ‘uncomfortable’ moving forward without inspecting the property in-person.

The plan will see the building demolished and replaced with a family home for villagers already living in East Challow with a detached garage with storage space in the roof.

The application was amended to reduce the scale of the house as the original design encroached in the neighbouring field.

The panning committee also imposed a last-minute condition, which meant that the public right of way is not obstructed.

However, ward and parish councillor Paul Barrow, who spoke on behalf of villagers, pointed out there are great concerns over the plan to ‘cram’ a two-storey house into a very small space and it will cause ‘significant local problems’.

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He said: “In this case the proposed building is squeezed into a very small space, with six inches on one side and three feet on the other next to an existing garage.

“Council officers have also stated that there are economic benefits to this dwelling for local services and businesses.

“We dispute this and we cannot see a significant benefit as we have very few services left in the village and we already have 130-odd houses being built, so one extra will have little positive effect on the East Challow economy.”

He also said that the size of the dwelling would make it impossible to fit more than one car in the space allowed for parking, without blocking communal path.

Mr Barrow also shared Google Maps images which he said showed that the area is ‘much more crammed’ than depicted on photos shared by the Vale council.

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Responding to Mr Barrow’s plea to his colleagues not to approve the application, councillor Jerry Avery said: “This is a very persuasive argument.

“Clearly, if what you say is true, it would be very difficult to agree to such an application.”

But Mr Avery abstained from voting on the plan as he lost connection to the online meeting halfway through the discussion.

One of the other main objections included highway safety, however, its impact was concluded ‘acceptable’ by the district council.

Parishioners also objected on the grounds of ‘loss of community facility’ despite that the hut has been abandoned for more than a decade.

But the council confirmed that there has been no serious interest from community groups in the area and, with the recent renovation of East Challow’s village hall, the hut was not considered an ‘economically viable asset’.