A CAR wash is to be opened in the car park of the Tesco store in Henley.
The supermarket has been granted planning permission to convert nine parking spaces into a hand wash and valeting service with a canopy and cabin.
South Oxfordshire District Council gave consent despite being recommended not to by Henley Town Council.
Henley Deputy Mayor Martin Akehurst spoke against the planning application at a meeting of the district council’s planning committee.
He said the nine spaces were “desperately” needed by shoppers when the store was at its busiest and the car park was full.
Councillor Akehurst also raised concern about noise the car wash would generate for neighbours, the closest of whom lives less than 60m away.
He pointed out the operating hours would be 8am to 9pm seven days a week, adding: “This is a significant chunk of the day.”
Town and district councillor Jeni Wood said: “If you have a car wash there is going to be constant noise, which we do not need. We have got an industrial estate which I think would be a better area for it.”
She pointed out that the loss of spaces would be felt at weekends when hockey and football teams played at Jubilee Park opposite the store off Reading Road.
But her fellow district councillors disagreed. Councillor Margaret Turner, who represents Harwell, said: “If you live near a supermarket you are going to get noise from whatever — cars, deliveries.
“We have a car wash in Tesco and we have one in Sainsbury’s and I have to say I am a regular shopper and it hasn’t made any difference to parking. I have not heard anybody complain about it.”
Councillor Elizabeth Gillespie said a car wash was “absolutely appropriate” for a supermarket, adding: “It is a good thing and I would like to use it myself.” Councillor Robert Simister said he was surprised by the objections from the town council.
“Frankly, there are about five coffee shops and 17 pubs in the centre of Henley but it is not up to us to decide whether or not another car wash should be in Henley,” he said.
Councillor Alan Rooke said he had parked 50m from a car wash at the Tesco store in Reading and not noticed any noise.
District council officer Emma Bowerman said the council’s environmental noise team considered the noise impact of the car wash to be acceptable and although the loss of spaces would be “regrettable” it was not “significant” considering the size of the car park.
The committee approved the application by 10 votes to one.
Dieter Hinke, chairman of the town council’s planning committee, said he was disappointed by the decision.
He said: “My main concern was about extra noise to the two neighbours at the bottom of the car park with car doors slamming and engines running as well as the train line at the bottom of their garden. If they complain we will have to do something about it.”
Construction work on the car wash began this week and Tesco said it hoped to open it by the end of the month.