Saturday, 23 June 2018

Residents launch ‘yes’ campaign for poll

A GROUP of Henley residents who helped write the town’s joint neighbourhood plan with Harpsden is urging people to vote to adopt it.

A GROUP of Henley residents who helped write the town’s joint neighbourhood plan with Harpsden is urging people to vote to adopt it.

The document, which lists 11 sites where about 500 new homes should go by 2027 to meet Government targets, is going to a referendum next month and will become legally binding if it passes.

The plan was drafted by volunteer working groups under the supervision of Henley Town Council and consultants Nexus Planning.

Now more than a dozen former members of the groups have launched a “yes” campaign to try to ensure it is approved.

They argue that if the plan is not approved, Henley might have to take even more housing and will have no say on where it goes.

The group is chaired by Rebecca Chandler-Wilde, whose daughter Helen is a Conservative town councillor and who sat on the housing working group.

Dr Chandler-Wilde, of St Andrew’s Road, said: “I spent 18 months sitting through many, many hours of deliberations and have no personal interest as I don’t live near any of the proposed sites.

“Having seen all the pressures on various areas and the compromises that must inevitably be made, I truly believe this is the best solution for Henley.

“It emphasises the use of brownfield sites while preserving surrounding countryside and it brings in affordable housing.

“Because it has been shaped by feedback from local residents, it has been devised by the people of Henley rather than imposed on them.

“Some people will always dislike certain aspects but I think we’ve pleased most people with the final proposal. We’ve listened to the views of the focus groups we held and not only the views of other working group members.”

Dr Chandler-Wilde said residents should not vote against the plan in the belief that it would stop new housing from coming.

She said: “If you don’t vote for the plan, we lose all control over what happens in Henley.

“The number of homes is not negotiable. The quota is set by the Government and delivered through the district council’s local plan.

“There is no choice in accepting them but we can say where they should go, how to integrate them with the community and how to deal with the pressures they will bring.

“The only alternative is the same number of homes, or possibly more, and with no say in their location.”

The referendum will take place on March 10 and polling stations will be open from 7am to 10pm. It is expected these will be Henley town hall and Harpsden village hall.

Anyone in Henley or Harpsden parish can vote as long as they are on the electoral register by February 23.

For the full story, see this week's Henley Standard.

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