Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Hotel plan for station car park

A HOTEL could be built on the car park at Henley station.

A HOTEL could be built on the car park at Henley station.

Network Rail has confirmed it wants to redevelop part of the land off Station Road, which it owns.

The Henley Standard understands that the company hopes to secure a sale this year and is about to start approaching hotel operators.

Proceeds from the sale would probably be used to pay for extra parking spaces at Twyford station, which is due to become part of the Crossrail route in 2019 so demand is expected to increase.

Network Rail believes there is spare parking capacity at Henley so it can afford to lose some spaces.



Martin Akehurst, the Mayor of Henley, said he was concerned about the development.

He said: “Considering the five per cent per annum increase in usage of the Henley branch line and the imminent introduction of Crossrail, this would significantly affect commuters in Henley within the next few years.

“We’ve got at least 450 new houses coming and we can’t afford to lose a chunk of that car park. Network Rail seems to have picked this up without any consultation with Henley Town Council.”

The far south-eastern corner of the car park at Henley station, behind the Centenary Business Park off Quebec Road, is named as a possible employment site in the second draft of the joint Henley and Harpsden neighbourhood plan.

The plot encompasses about 30 car parking spaces out of a total of about 210.

The draft says the area “tends to be under-utilised” and would be suitable for offices, industrial use or a hotel.

However, flood mitigation measures would be needed as it is close to the River Thames and the Cold Bath Stream, a brook that runs along the opposite side of the railway line.

Councillor Dieter Hinke, chairman of Henley Town Council’s neighbourhood planning governance committee, said the site was included in the plan on the understanding that it wasn’t yet deliverable.

“Because it is on a flood plain it would have to go through sequential testing before anything could go in there,” he said.

“We’ve had verbal discussions with Network Rail but until they confirm something in writing there’s not an awful lot more we can do.”

The issue will be discussed by the Henley Branch Users Group at its next meeting in May.

Secretary Neil Gunnell said: “We support the town’s economy, both in terms of people commuting to London and people coming into the town, so we have to give consideration to anything that could improve the town.

“However, I am personally concerned about parking as we need to maintain a reasonable service once Crossrail comes along.

“People from across South Oxfordshire come to Henley to travel by train and they have to park somewhere.

“For Henley to be effective we need reasonable parking arrangements and cannot afford to lose any spaces. We must consider our future needs, not just our current ones.

“Demand is only going to grow and we shouldn’t shoot ourselves in the foot by building something that will restrict the potential for line improvements.”

A Network Rail spokeswoman said: “We are at such an early stage in developing this proposal that we are not yet in a position to confirm which part of the car park would be affected nor how many spaces would be lost.

“We continue to work closely with Henley Town Council and First Great Western, which manages the station, to develop our plans.”



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