PLANS to split a large villa into two homes have been approved despite concerns it could change the area’s character.

A majority of councillors sitting on the Windsor and Ascot development management panel gave the nod to applicants Mr and Mrs Butler to bulldoze a large home known as Lynthorpe on Fireball Hill, Sunningdale, and replace it with two new homes.

A previous plan was refused by planning officers because they believed it would create a ‘cramped form of development’. The old plans are still waiting for the appeal outcome.

Speaking on behalf of the applicant, Douglas Bond said they have scaled back the size and mass of the homes to make it more in keeping with the area, resulting in planning officers recommending approval.

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Despite the size reduction, this still didn’t quash the fears from local residents and the parish council who urged the committee to refuse the scheme.

Patrick Griffin, chairman of the society for the protection of Ascot and environs, said the plans will still result in a ‘cramped form of development’ and will impact the other villas that are set in a woodland setting.

Royal Borough Observer: Drawing of the two homesDrawing of the two homes

Cllr Julian Sharpe (Con: Ascot & Sunninghill) said by approving this application, he fears it will “send a message” to other homeowners in the area that it is acceptable to split their properties as well.

He said: “If we are to approve this [application], we begin to start changing the character of the area and start making it into a more ordinary setting, and we’re eroding the value of property in that area.”

But Cllr David Hilton (Con: Ascot & Sunninghill) believed a precedent has been set after a developer won an appeal in 2013 to split their property into two homes at nearby Fireball.

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He also believed the council would lose at appeal if the committee decided to refuse the scheme.

Seven committee members voted to approve while Cllrs Karen Davies (Lib Dem: Clewer East) and Sharpe voted against.

The meeting took place on Wednesday, June 1.