Saturday, 21 July 2018

Developers given six weeks to make bids for youth centre land

DEVELOPERS have until March 26 to submit offers to buy the former Henley Youth Centre site

DEVELOPERS have until March 26 to submit offers to buy the former Henley Youth Centre site.

A total of 0.25 hectares in Deanfield Avenue was put on the open market this week by Reading chartered surveryors Haslams.

Developers had already made enquiries about the land, which has been allocated 25 homes under the joint Henley and Harpsden neighbourhood plan.

Steven Smith, a partner at Haslams, said: "We're inviting bids on the condition of planning permission being granted for development or they can make a bid unconditionally.

It will be more than likely that the site will be sold subject to the granting of planning permission.

We could sell it unconditionally but without the benefit of planning permission it could achieve a lower price.

We have had a lot of interest from developers, both national and local.

We have also had interest from social housing developers and housing associations as well as several commercial developers, although the site is allocated for residential development.

Mr Smith said it was hoped a contract could be agreed in April or May and the buyer would have to seek planning permission, which would take between six months and a year.

The youth centre was closed last year after the Thamesfield Youth Association announced that it could no longer afford the running costs.

The Henley College owns derelict land behind the site and Thames Water a small parcel beyond that.

Haslams is marketing the college land as well as the youth centre site.

The Thames Water land is being sold by Savills and is already under offer from an unnamed buyer. Clive Wilkinson, chairman of the youth centre's trustees, said: "We're pleased we have got to this stage. There are a few things we had to do to get there because it's a joint sale between us and the college so we've had to agree terms between the parties.

"It's a good location for development because it's in the centre of town.

"Because we're a registered charity we have to sell it at the best market price possible. The proceeds will be used to fund youth work in the town.â?�

Mr Wilkinson said the association was now subsidising the junior youth clubs that are run at the Henley YMCA and youth and community project Nomad on Mondays and Tuesdays.

The HOT (Henley-on-Thames) Frog café, which gives young adults with learning difficulties a taste of work and is based at the centre, will remain open until July.

The café is the responsibility of Henley Social Enterprise, a not-for-profit organisation run by staff at The Henley College as a community hub and to give special needs students work experience. It opened in November 2010. Last month the manager of a café claimed it had been â??forgottenâ?�.

Carolyne Neighbour, who has managed the café for three years, said she believed its fate was sealed as it had not found a new home. 

The youth centre had been in Deanfield Avenue for more than 50 years, having moved in 1961 from Thamesfield House in Wargrave Road, which is now a retirement home.

The association agreed to the move in return for an annual contribution towards the centreâ??s overheads from Oxfordshire County Council.

The trustees blamed the centreâ??s closure on the councilâ??s decision in 2011 to withdraw its annual £25,000 grant. The council denied it was to blame.

l What do you think? Write to: Letters, Henley Standard, Caxton House, 1 Station Road, Henley, RG9 1AD or email

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