Plans to replace a bungalow with a three-storey house have been rejected by councillors – despite planning officers recommending that they let it go ahead.

The owners of one bungalow on Nine Mile Ride in Finchampstead wanted to demolish it and replace it with a much larger home. But their neighbours feared the new house would overshadow their own bungalow, and look out on their garden and homes.

And councillors argued the plans clashed with new policies restricting three-storey houses. Wokingham Borough Council’s planning committee debated the planning application on Wednesday, December 13.

Pauline Grainger, who lives next door, told the committee that the three-storey house would overshadow her own bungalow.

She said: “The height change from one storey to three storeys will definitely take light from the ground floor windows on the east side of my house.

“I’m not against redevelopment of this site and was expecting a planning application but not of this scale, mass, height and design."

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Councillors from Finchampstead argued that the plans were against new neighbourhood policies restricting where three storey houses should be built.

The Finchampstead neighbourhood development plan says three-storey houses should only be supported on Gorse Ride or an area near the Hogwood Industrial estate earmarked for major development. This was adopted by Wokingham Borough Council in September.

Finchampstead South councillor Rebecca Margetts told councillors that if they approved the new house they would be ‘ignoring’ the plan, which had been five years in the making.

She said: “If you choose to approve this application you will be completely ignoring the Finchampstead neighbourhood development plan and the volunteers that spent five years developing it.”

Wokingham Borough Council planning officers said they had taken the neighbourhood plan into account.

But they argued that they still had to assess how much harm planning proposals might cause to a surrounding area, and balance that against the policies.

They said as the top floor of the planned house would be in the roof, it would look more like a two-storey building, and so wouldn’t cause too much harm.

A planning officer said: “Because it visually appears as a two and a half-storey dwelling where the third floor accommodation is within the roof, and because that is not dissimilar from other examples within the area because of the height being seen as appropriate as well, on balance that has been viewed as acceptable.”

But committee members disagreed, arguing the Finchampstead neighbourhood development plan should take priority. Councillor Wayne Smith said: “I don’t really want to get into the semantics of when is a three-storey building not a three-storey building. It’s got three floors.”

He added: “I am not going against the wishes of a community that has spent five years developing a plan.”