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Friday, 19 September 2014

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Wetheral villagers form action group to protest against new homes

Residents have rallied to protest against new homes planned for their village.

Magnuse home Wetheral graphic
How the homes could look

The Save Wetheral Village group has been set up to gather objections to proposals by Magnus Homes to build “modern energy-efficient houses” on land behind Lime House, which overlooks The Green.

The firm, which is already converting the building into luxury flats, has submitted a planning application for eight homes – three and four-bedroom houses – some of which are understood to be three storeys high.

Residents in neighbouring houses have reacted with anger to the plans on a site which they claim will already be “over-developed” – suggestions rejected by the developer.

Alistair Johnston, an electronics engineer, lives in the Grade II listed building next door to Lime House.

He told The Cumberland News: “They have tried to cram as many houses in as possible to make money – and they are ugly.

“They are completely out of character with a listed building and against the planning regulations.”

Fellow protesters Elisabeth and Christopher Price claim the new properties would be too imposing in front of their semi-detached house.

Mrs Price said: “Everybody around – in bungalows, semis and listed buildings – has got a different slant, but we are all totally against these plans. There is a lack of privacy.”

Her husband echoed those thoughts, adding: “When you consider the small area of recreational space at the rear of our house, to have a three-storey property looking at us is a complete violation of our privacy.”

The campaign group is particularly concerned about the company’s plans to build on green land beyond the car park at the back of the Lime House conversion.

Mr Johnston said: “One of the rules states that whatever is built has to enhance the conservation area: there is no way these are going to make anything better.”

Frank Lowe, director of Magnus Homes Limited, said: “While we are satisfied that the submitted scheme for eight units is a perfectly acceptable one, we have considered the comments raised by the parish council and others, and have incorporated changes to the scheme which has resulted in a reduction of one house and a revision to the balconies.

“Since applying for planning permission we have had much interest from prospective purchasers who like the modern design and location our development offers.”

Mr Lowe said issues such as privacy, highways and parking arrangements and drainage have been raised with Carlisle City Council, Cumbria County Council and United Utilities, which have confirmed the proposals are acceptable or in accordance with the rules. There will also be an affordable housing contribution as required.

Addressing the protesters’ complaints about the conservation area, Mr Lowe was keen to point out that the area is already home to a variety of building styles and the development will be primarily on a former car park.

“The majority of the surrounding trees will be retained and where trees have to be removed we will replace,” he added.

“We believe our development’s distinctive contemporary approach enhances the conservation area, and the buildings will be seen in the context of existing buildings with only glimpses from the village green.”

Save Wetheral Village are encouraging anyone who is opposed to the plans to write to the planning officer.

A ‘visible protest’ is scheduled to take place on the village green at 12.20pm on Easter Sunday. All are invited.

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