Saturday, 16 December 2017

Council pay for impact study on town roads

A CONSULTANT has been chosen to conduct a study on the impact that 450 new houses would have on Henley?s roads

A CONSULTANT has been chosen to conduct a study on the impact that 450 new houses would have on Henley?s roads.

Henley Town Council, which has set aside £50,000 for the project, has awarded the contract to Peter Brett Associates, of Reading.

The study will form part of the joint Henley and Harpsden neighbourhood plan, which names the sites where the homes should be built.

The council has already agreed to pay £1,500 to another consultant, Alax Baxter Associates of London, for a preliminary ?scoping? report.

The neighbourhood planning governance committee shortlisted both firms to conduct the main study and voted unanimously in favour of the Reading firm.

Dieter Hinke, who chairs the committee said: ?The people we interviewed, particularly the team leader, were personally familiar with Henley as they visit socially a lot. This means they are highly aware of the problems it faces, particularly with regard to traffic.

?They showed a lot of innovation in projects they?ve previously worked on. We looked at some of their work and it?s just the kind of thing we?re looking for.

?Henley is a small, historic market town so can?t have a ring road or bridge and we can?t expand the existing streets. We need someone who can take a more leftfield approach.?

The committee will have an ?inception? meeting with the company?s teams in the next few weeks to discuss different areas of research and to come up with a timetable.

The experts will then make a formal site visit, walking around the town and noting possible areas of concern.

Councillor Hinke said residents and community groups would be consulted as part of the process. He said: ?Having got used to consulting the town throughout the neighbourhood plan, we have no intention of stopping now.

?It is vital that we do so because people living in Henley will have valid views which will be of enormous use to us.?

When the first draft of the neighbourhood plan went to consultation last year, only half of respondents agreed with its traffic strategy.

But 78 per cent supported the second draft?s approach to traffic in a six-week consultation that finished last month.

The committee will make minor amendments to the draft before asking its consultant Nexus Planning to write the final version.

This will be presented to South Oxfordshire District Council in May and the authority will conduct its own consultation before passing it to an independent inspector for scrutiny.

If it passes it will go to a referendum in the autumn and will become legally enforceable if more than half of voters are in favour.

Cllr Hinke said: ?It?s debatable whether it will go to the district council before the election but no major changes are needed and the process is still on track.?

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