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Plan for new homes in Sway win green light from national park authority

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Housing plans for Builders Yard in Station Road, Sway
Housing plans for Builders Yard in Station Road, Sway

CLAIMS that building three new homes in Sway would constitute over-development did not persuade planning authority members to throw them out.

An application to demolish a building in Builders Yard, Station Road, which is used for storage with studio space for pottery and crafts associated with ArtSway on the same plot, was voted through 11 to one at Tuesday’s meeting of the national park authority’s planning committee.

Robin and Donald Etheridge’s “high quality” plan for a four-bed detached home and two, two-bed semi-detached affordable dwellings would make good use of the site, said their planning consultant Matt Holmes. It would also provide much-needed affordable homes in the village.

However, Dr Stephen Sandys from Sway Surgery in Station Road, representing six neighbours who wrote letters of objection, expressed concerns about the density of the development, access to the surgery for traffic and emergency vehicles, and the impact of the new homes on protected trees.

“It is over-intensification and over-development of a small, poorly situated plot,” said Dr Sandys, arguing the properties had been shoe-horned into a small plot with little consideration to amenity space, adequate parking and traffic/emergency service vehicle movement.

“The plot is accessed by a long, single driveway which already has a significant congestion problem,” he continued, adding that the space to the rear of the surgery was often over-filled leaving no passing space. This would lead to cars reversing back towards the surgery car park and Station Road and creating a hazard for visiting patients on foot, Dr Sandys claimed.

Sway Parish Council chairman, Cllr Stephen Tarling, told the meeting they objected on grounds including that the access for emergency and refuse vehicles was a “work of fiction”, and that protected trees would be impacted. He also claimed the plan breached NPA planning policy.

“I see the need for affordable housing in the village, but two rather than three dwellings would be more sustainable,” he said.

But recommending approval, in line with the planning officer’s report, NPA member Richard Frampton said some of the parish council’s objections were based on an out-of-date village design statement, and some members admitted to being confused by some of the parish council’s points.

John Sanger said members were in danger of “paralysis by analysis” while debating the proposal, and the only way he could decide which way to vote was to “come back to the fundamentals.

“It’s a brownfield site and we need to do our best,” he said. “Hampshire highways say it may not be perfect, but so far I think the right recommendation is here.”

Ann Sevier also thought two houses would have been preferable, but Richard Clewer argued: “This isn’t over-development – you could probably get four properties on there. There’s limited land in the Forest and it needs to be used for people who live and work here.”

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