In 2014 Dandara Homes obtained for permission to build 90 new homes including private and affordable housing on Stockham Park Farm incorporating part of the historic Wilts and Berks canal route with a public footpath to the north of the canal.
The conditions associated with the granting of planning permission included that:
“Prior to commencement of development, full details of the proposed bridge across the canal shall be submitted to and approved in writing by the local planning authority. The approved bridge shall be constructed prior to occupation of any dwelling in accordance with the approved details and shall be available for use at all times thereafter.”
Dandara don’t seem to build homes here but just sell on the planning consent, so Abbey Homes took over the site in 2016 and submitted full details of the proposed wooden single span foot-bridge across the canal with railings on each side.
In fact a very similar bridge over the Letcombe Brook features prominently in the marketing material for the homes on the site – now called King Alfred’s Place.
The plans for the bridge were approved in 2017 with a reminder that it should be built prior to first occupation.
Houses were built and residents have moved in but no work was done to the canal or any attempt to build the bridge as required by the planning agreement.
So Abbey Homes totally disregarded the planning obligations to build the bridge first.
Then two weeks ago two large concrete drainage pipes appeared on site and the Canal Trust (who have been waiting patiently for a bridge) got in touch with the Enforcement Team at the District Council.
The Enforcement Team contacted the developers and stipulated that work at Stockham should cease pending their investigations.
Since then a temporary causeway has been constructed across the canal over the top of the two drainage pipes.
A spokesperson from the Council said:
“The Vale of White Horse District Council has received written confirmation from the developer and construction company that the work taking place to create a temporary culvert and crossing has stopped as directed…
… The developer is fully aware of their obligation to install the bridge...”
We’re told that the bridge should be built in three months’ time.
Surely Council Officers should have checked that all obligations were met before any homes were occupied?
What’s the point of a signed agreement if it isn’t upheld?