Tuesday, 19 September 2017

Build affordable homes on youth centre land and not care home, say residents

RESIDENTS have objected to plans to build a care home on the site of the former Henley youth centre.

B&M Care has applied for planning permission for a 65-bed home on the site in Deanfield Avenue, which it bought for £3million in 2015.

The company says the home will provide 50 full- or part-time jobs and will cater for local elderly people with different levels of dementia.

The land is earmarked for 23 homes in the Henley and Harpsden neighbourhood plan and residents say the town doesn’t need another care home.

Stephen Morton, of Blandy Road, said: “This site was a youth centre, which we have now lost to development. This loss would be acceptable if the result were to be housing, it is not acceptable for yet another care home.

“Henley is under pressure to find space for new homes for young people and families — it does not need a care home on this site, it needs housing and, if possible, ‘affordable’ housing.”

Michael Turnill, also of Blandy Road, said: “South Oxfordshire District Council has already approved two other care homes in the face of significant local opposition — on top of the existing care homes. We really need to adhere to the principles of the neighbourhood plan that provide for new homes in Henley in a balanced way.

“Overriding our wishes on yet another site is totally
unacceptable.”

Peter Jones, of Ancastle Green, said: “Houses on this site would better meet the needs of the people of the town than the proposed development, which is a use adequately met already.”

Carolyn Maunder, of Deanfield Avenue, said: “I voted for this site to be earmarked for residential development in the neighbourhood plan because there is a great need for housing, particularly lower cost housing, in the town.

“This site is ideally situated for residential development because it is close to all services, such as the shops, schools and the station.

“Although I am elderly I do not believe there is a need for any more care homes in the town. Even if the applicants could convince us of this need, this particular site would be much better used for the housing of families.”

Sophie Mills, of Marmion Road, said: “Henley does not need another care home! What we need is more for young people.”

Henley Town Council and campaigners are still smarting after the district council granted planning permission for two similar developments despite opposition.

One was for 53 extra care flats for the elderly and disabled at the former Jet garage site in Reading Road, which was earmarked for 55 ordinary flats in the neighbourhood plan, and the other was for an 80-bed care home at the former LA Fitness gym in Newtown Road, although that site is now up for sale.

B&M Care, which was one of 27 bidders for the former youth centre site, already operates 23 care homes in four counties including Berkshire and Buckinghamshire.

The land was put on the market when the Thamesfield Youth Association said it could no longer afford the youth centre’s £45,000-a-year running costs.

The sale included a derelict plot behind the centre which was owned by The Henley College.

The proceeds were split between the association and the college with the former receiving a slightly larger share. Since then the association has made grants to community groups and charities in the town, including £50,000 to youth and community project Nomad.

The district council will make the final decision on the plan by May 26.

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