Sunday, 17 December 2017

Council refuses comment on field sale plan

HENLEY Town Council has decided not to enter the debate over plans by Gillotts School in Henley to sell part of its playing fields for development.

The academy has offered to sell 3.4 hectares of land in order to raise funds for major new facilities.

The site has also been included in the draft Henley and Harpsden neighbourbhood plan.

The school governors asked the council for its views but this week the finance strategy and management committee voted not to respond on the grounds that it could compromise the neighbourhood plan.

Councillor Will Hamilton said: “As individuals, we can all chip in but to give our view as a town council is wrong. It’s for people to decide, it’s not up to the town council and goes against the neighbourhood plan.

“If we gave one view and the neighbourhood plan gives another which would be the most important? It’s in the current neighbourhood plan so people can respond that way.”

Councillor Elizabeth Hodgkin added: “Surely this is up to individual residents and we as a town council shouldn’t have a say in what they sell it for.”

But committee chairman said Ian Reissmann the council had a responsibility to give a view and it was “absurd” to suggest otherwise.

“Surely we should be able to have views on the extent to which land can be used.

During the Olympics in 2012 we were talking about the provision of land for sport and if land was sold off that prevents that, we should say: ‘no, you must leave land for sport’.

“Gillotts is regarded as our school and we represent the residents who use the school. We are being asked for our view and I welcome that.”

Mayor Martin Akehurst said: “If town council opinion is required it should go through planning as an application.”

Six of the seven councillors voted to note the request from the school but not to provide a response.

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