The Wokingham Paper

‘Cheeky’ – developers market 57 new homes before planning permission granted for Sonning development

Arlington Retirement Lifestyles Sonning
A CGI of the proposed new retirement complex from Arlington Retirement Lifestyles

A RETIREMENT company is planning to build 57 new homes in Sonning, as part of a “retirement village” off Old Bath Road.

Despite public consultation beginning on Friday, developer Arlington Retirement Lifestyles has already launched a full website advertising the “village”.

The plans are for three large, three-storey buildings, each containing a variety of one and two-bedroom apartments.

On its website, Arlington Retirement Lifestyles state: “Launching in 2021, we are excited to announce the development of our retirement village located in the heart of Sonning.

“The development will consist of 57 luxury apartments and communal facilities designed to the highest standards with the residents’ well-being and comfort our top priorities.

“Every apartment will be stylishly designed to a high specification and will benefit from the following features and amenities; concierge, CCTV and 24-hour alarm system, secure parking, gated development, fully maintained outside areas, clubhouse, walk-in showers, fully integrated appliances and premium bathroom suites.”

The developer added: “Our aim is to create a retirement village which will meet everyone’s needs, whilst they enjoy leading independent and fulfilled lives.”

Cllr Michael Firmager, Conservative councillor for Sonning, said it was presumptive of the company to launch a website already.

He told Wokingham.Today: “It’s a bit cheeky really to publish their website, when it hasn’t even got planning permission yet.”

He added: “It fills me with a lot of concern. It’s already a congested area, with a care home and successful rugby club nearby.

“I’m worried about the traffic increase to Old Bath Road and the A4 — adding this to the area is going to be too much. Sonning is meant to be a rural area, that’s what we want to try and keep. It’s one development too many.”

And resident Paul Etherington has also objected to the predicted traffic impact.

He said: “They say that there will be limited peak time vehicle movements, but this substantially ignores the never-ending stream of delivery vans which are a feature of all our lives now in a Covid-19 world,” he said. “Nor does it reconcile with providing 63 parking spaces for a development of 106 bedrooms.

“One could easily see the site adding 100 cars to the neighbourhood, all of them at some point trying to cross, or get on to the busy A4 dual carriageway.”

Mr Etherington also said the plans were too big for the area, and couldn’t demonstrate a high demand for retirement apartments.

“What is proposed would be squeezed into the space currently occupied by three typically large Sonning houses which are in keeping with the area,” he said. “Even Sunrise care home looks low density compared with this proposal.”

He added: “It is conspicuous that the two-storey McCarthy & Stone development in Twyford is only two thirds of the size of this application and still has properties available many months after it was completed. This suggests the demand is not as described by the applicant.”

He said the developer had shown a lack of attention to detail in the plans.

“One always worries about the accuracy of an application that mentions an Indian restaurant in Sonning village which closed six months ago and is erroneously addressed to WBC at ‘Schute end’. What else have they missed?”

Cllr Firmager said he wants to encourage residents to comment on the plans and make their own decisions about the development.

He said he is working with Sonning Parish Council, who will meet to discuss the plans later this month.

The consultation ends on Friday, August 27. To view the details, click here

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