Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Network Rail still opposed to care home plan

NETWORK Rail is opposing plans to build a care home on the site of a former gym

NETWORK Rail is opposing plans to build a care home on the site of a former gym in Henley for a second time,

writes Connor McLoughlin.

Henthames has submitted amended plans for an 80-bed, three-storey building at the former LA Fitness gym site in Newtown Road, which backs on to the railway line.

The developer says it has responded to Network Rail’s previous concerns regarding building on its land and the effect on future line upgrades.

But the rail company says it is still not satisfied, particularly about a proposed new entrance to the site from Mill Lane. A spokesman said: “The new access would prevent any future reprofiling of the road gradient and therefore Network Rail would be unable to lift the railway bridge in preparation for electrification at any point in the future.

“The proposed development would encroach on to Network Rail land. The roadway embankment is under the ownership of Network Rail but it appears that the applicant wants to cut into this embankment to extend the horizontal land area.”

Sir David Higgins, a former chief executive of Network Rail and now executive chairman of the HS2 rail project who lives in Mill Lane, claims the new entrance would increase traffic in the road. Henthames, of Essex, bought the 0.47-hectare site for £1.8million after LA Fitness was taken over by Pure Gym, a rival budget chain.

Property investor Craig Marks, from Peppard, who offered to buy the site to let it out as a leisure centre and swimming pool, said Henthames should look to retain the site as a health club.

He said: “If they fail to resolve their case with Network Rail they should look to find an operator for its current use as a swimming pool and gym. There is a number of operators interested in bringing it back.”

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