Saturday, 16 December 2017

Town will receive share of money from developer

HENLEY will not miss out on a share of more than £580,000 in infrastructure payments to be made for the redevelopment of Highlands Farm.

Town councillors were concerned because all the money will be paid to the parish council in neighbouring Harpsden as this is where the industrial estate is located.

But Kester George, chairman of Harpsden Parish Council, has assured them that the money will be shared after some is put towards improvements to Gillotts Lane.

Crest Nicholson has begun work on building 163 homes at the 12.8-acre site, off Greys Road, which is the biggest development agreed under the joint Henley and Harpsden neighbourhood plan.

The company will pay a total of £584,000 between 2018 and 2021 under the Community Infrastructure Levy, which is designed to mitigate the effects of development by funding infrastructure improvements.

It is also required to create three build-outs in Gillotts Lane to calm traffic under the conditions of its planning permission.

Councillor George said his council would spend some of the money making improvements in Valley Road and Sheephouse Lane and then make some available to Henley Town Council.

Cllr George said: “I’ve always made it clear Henley has nothing to worry about. The parish council will take an entirely responsible view of its public responsibility.

“Certainly the road system worries us most because of the obvious contrast between the pressure put on it and the resources brought to bear by the highways department at Oxfordshire County Council.

“Valley Road is full of potholes, like so many other roads, and we want to widen Sheephouse Lane so it’s not a single track with passing places.

“Once Harpsden has dealt with the obvious deficiencies in Gillotts Lane, Valley Road and Sheephouse Lane we will naturally think of the district as a whole, as we have to by the joint neighbourhood plan.

“Henley has not approached us to negotiate anything. We will use our sense of responsibility until such a time as we have a formal arrangement.”

Henley councillors expressed concerns about not receiving any money at a meeting of their finance strategy and management committee meeting.

The town council has asked South Oxfordshire District Council to review the boundaries of the two parishes, so the Highlands Farm development becomes part of Henley but any changes are unlikely to be made until after the local council elections in May 2019.

Councillor Ian Reissmann said if the boundary changes were made before 2021 some of the money would automatically come to Henley.

He added: “Highlands Farm is part of the neighbourhood plan, which was funded by this council because Harpsden had no money.

“Given we have spent £150,000 making the plan, and probably more amending it, not to mention the officer time, we should be discussing what’s going to happen to this money.

“The whole point of the CIL is the infrastructure needed for this development will be in Henley. We have to provide schools, roads and air pollution measures.”

Councillor Will Hamilton said: “Harpsden have made it clear what they want to spend the money on and it won’t all be going to Henley.”

Councillor Julian Brookes said: “We certainly do want some work on Gillotts Lane.”

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