VICTIMS of the worst flooding seen in Henley in more than a decade are taking action to protect their homes.
Eleven householders on Rod Eyot have applied for planning permission to raise their properties.
The Thames island, opposite Mill Meadows, was flooded in January and March and some owners had to evacuate their homes.
One resident is still not back in due to the damage caused.
Simon Loring, who lives on Rod Eyot for part of the year, has submitted the application to South Oxfordshire District Council on behalf of the residents to lift their homes by about 1.5m.
Mr Loring, a qualified architect, said: “The big floods of the last two years have given us cause for concern that the risk is increasing. This year’s flood should only happen every 50 years and last year’s every 30.
“When I bought my house three years ago I renovated it with flood resilience in mind but this year it flooded by about 1cm. Others, which are lower, were worse.
“We want to raise the homes to a maximum of 34m above sea level because that is the condition for new-builds near the river in this location.” Mr Loring said it would be “easy” to lift most of the properties using hydraulic jacks.
The foundations would then be rebuilt and the buildings lowered on to them.
The cost of the work would be about £30,000 for each house, depending on its size, and residents could apply for a government grant of up to £5,000.
David Evans, who has lived on the island for 15 years, was forced to leave his home when it was flooded in January and has still not been able to move back in.
“We had about 14in inside the house,” he said. “I am currently in accommodation supplied by the insurance company because of the flooding.” He supports the joint planning application and his home would be one of the first to be raised.
Mr Evans said: “It seemed pointless to refurbish it at the expense of my insurance company for it flood again.
“We are a community and it seemed to make sense that if we were going to raise one or two houses we could overcome any hurdles such as neighbours saying they didn’t want to do it by going in together.
“It means they could raise their houses if they wanted to now or in the future. If this is successful, I hope to move back in by the end of the year.”
The application is also supported by John Farmer, who owns the only concrete property on the island and was the only one who didn’t suffer flooding this year after raising his home by 3ft in 1994.
He said: “I found out how high the previous worst flood was and raised it by an extra foot. It worked this year and we were the only people left on the island.
“I support the application because at the end of the day people want to live there.” Henley Town Council’s planning committee has recommended the application is approved. Mayor Martin Akehurst called it “very sensible”.
However, the Henley Society, a heritage and conservation group, has raised concerns about the appearance of the homes if they are raised.
David Whitehead, who chairs its planning committee, said: “The need to raise the height of the buildings is accepted but we are concerned about the impact on their appearance from the popular riverside path.
“Some of the buildings are rather unattractive and they would become much more prominent if increased in height by about 1.5m.
“We suggest that individual planning applications should be submitted with appropriate drawings.”
A decision will be made by the district council by September 5.
• Until 1907 Rod Eyot was known as Corporate Island and belonged to the town council. Then it had only one building, which was a blacksmith’s forge. The council decided to split the island into plots and sell these at auction after which the island changed its name.