Householders in a Banburyshire village oppose development of a underground house in their conservation area

The final artist's impression of how the proposed home would look from the north side. The living accommodation would look down towards the southThe final artist's impression of how the proposed home would look from the north side. The living accommodation would look down towards the south
The final artist's impression of how the proposed home would look from the north side. The living accommodation would look down towards the south | other
Villagers in Mollington are opposing development of a four bedroomed, underground house on an old paddock in their conservation area.

A plan for the two-level bungalow - a single story house dug into the hill with a garage and utility room above - is under consideration by Cherwell District Council's planning department.

It has attracted scores of comments - the majority opposing the development on a former orchard, once part of the listed Old Farmhouse which is now separated off behind panel fencing.

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Strong objections have been lodged by residents of Orchard Piece, whose narrow cul de sac would be used as the access way to the new property and for building contractors.

Another artist's impression of the final view of the planned house at Mollington, as seen from the north sideAnother artist's impression of the final view of the planned house at Mollington, as seen from the north side
Another artist's impression of the final view of the planned house at Mollington, as seen from the north side | other

They claim the access way is not a legal thoroughfare, having been restricted to agricultural vehicles after the landowner ripped a hedge out in 2003 and replaced it with a gate.

Paul Garner said: "Cherwell District Council stated they could not make the applicant replace the hedge she removed as it was not on her land.

"A full CDC hearing was held to discuss the demolition of the hedgerow and erection of the gate (and) a condition was placed that stated the access could only be used for agricultural vehicles and pedestrian access and any other use would require planning permission. This planning application does not apply for a change of use to either the land or gateway, therefore at this point there is no permissible access to the land."

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Orchard Piece homeowners say their road has precious little parking and residents are forced to park their cars outside the unused gate. They say the narrow lane cannot support more traffic.

The controversial gateway which would form the access to the planned property and for construction vehicles. Villagers say the gate only has planning permission for agricultural and pedestrian useThe controversial gateway which would form the access to the planned property and for construction vehicles. Villagers say the gate only has planning permission for agricultural and pedestrian use
The controversial gateway which would form the access to the planned property and for construction vehicles. Villagers say the gate only has planning permission for agricultural and pedestrian use | other

There are also concerns about flooding in wet weather - especially to an underground home.

Orchard Piece resident Ian Atherton said in his letter of objection: "Mollington is sited on top of natural springs and water courses. The orchard is surrounded by natural streams, one of which travels under my property... and out, bordering the entire development plot."

Mr Atherton submitted photos of flash flooding in October 2019.

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Villagers say the development would cause significant harm to the rural character of the conservation area and its vista to the south. And they say it would cause irreversible harm and disturbance to protected species, such as bats and great crested newts.

A design statement for landowner, Kathy North, says the principle of development has been deemed 'acceptable subject to design revisions' by the council in pre-application discussions.

"The benefits associated with this proposal clearly and demonstrably outweigh any perceived harm... (and) will substantially outweigh any minor residual impacts."

The statement describes the plan as 'a minor development within the built limits of the village'. A plan to build three houses on the site was refused in 2018.

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Mollington Parish Council has highlighted a number of missing procedural requirements and technical information and says it cannot consider the application.

Those wishing to see all the information and comments on the issue can go to the council's planning portal here and search for application number 20/01112/F

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