Monday, 16 July 2018

Museum plan to move cafe and create veranda

THE River and Rowing Museum in Henley wants to expand.

THE River and Rowing Museum in Henley wants to expand.

Chief executive Ludo Keston has asked Henley Town Council for permission to build decking above the grass area to the north of the main entrance off Mill Meadows.

The museum is considering moving its cafe, which currently overlooks the rear car park, to the front of the building and putting tables and chairs on a new terrace outside.

The decking would be suspended by pillars above the Cold Bath Stream, a small brook which runs through the site.

Most of it would be on land which the museum rents from the council under a 99–year lease for which it pays a single red rose every year. However, a small portion would oversail the adjoining land, which the council also owns.

The scheme would cost £150,000 to £200,000 and would also require planning permission from South Oxfordshire District Council.

Mr Keston, who took over from Paul Mainds in 2013, said: “When I arrived here, one of my first questions was, 'why on earth have we put the cafe at the back of the building?' We have a catering facility that could be very successful and the last thing we want to do is hide it away.

“I think everyone realises it is in our best interests as café sales help the museum. You can’t help but notice that Mill Meadows is absolutely beautiful and there are a lot of people who might want a nice cup of tea when they go there for a walk. People could then sit down and enjoy a river view rather than our lovely, but ultimately rather grey, car park.

“It’s about doing everything we can to ensure the museum’s long–term viability by properly capitalising on the assets we’ve got.”

Mr Keston said the request was only “speculative” at this stage and permission was only being sought in principle. The museum has commissioned an artist’s impression to give the councillors an idea of what the decking would look like.

Mr Keston said: “No planning applications will be prepared without the town council’s approval. This is really just to see how they feel about it. Our trustees haven’t even decided whether they want it to go ahead, let alone how they would pay for it.”

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