Monday, 27 September 2021

Deli plan receives mixed response

PLANS have been unveiled for a new delicatessen and café in Henley.

PLANS have been unveiled for a new delicatessen and café in Henley.

Greg Lewis, formerly head chef at Phyllis Court Club, wants to open the business at the former Noa Noa shop in Duke Street with his business partner Paul Gillett.

Town councillors have welcomed the proposal with the exception of Lorraine Hillier, who owns a coffee house and a tea shop, who has objected.

The deli would sell salads, cakes, hams, olives and cheeses, which would be cooked off-site but the kitchen on site would be used for reheating food and for making sandwiches and salads.

The planning application says: “A number of retail chains operate in Henley selling mass-produced patisserie and other food products but there is a lack of independent outlets to offer a different experience.

“This proposal will add variety to the retail offer in Henley with stock produced by local artisan suppliers.

“Many retail units struggle here, somewhat removed from Market Place and the heart of the town. Traffic is often congested and this impedes ease of movement.

“There are a number of vacant properties in the street and several charity shops, albeit there remains a good mix of retail uses and the penetration rate of non-retail units is relatively low with a wide variety of additional uses and businesses on offer.

“It is considered that the proposed mixed retail use and quality of an independent operation will add vibrancy and increase the vitality of the Duke Street, adding reason for customers and tourists to visit this end of the primary shopping area and enhancing viability.

“This will be to the benefit of other local shops and businesses and contribute to the health of the retail core.”

Speaking at a meeting of Henley Town Council’s planning committee, Mr Lewis said: “It is an idea that has been successful in similar towns and I really believe this is a good thing for Henley to have.”.

Councillor Will Hamilton said: “This would be a valuable addition to the town and I wish the business owners good luck getting it off the ground. It is just the kind of business we need in Henley.”

But Councillor Hillier has written to South Oxfordshire District Council, the planning authority, to oppose the application.

Councillor Hillier, who runs the Hot Gossip coffee house in Friday Street and Upstairs and Downstairs tearoom in Duke Street, says the deli would “erode” the retail area and would be contrary to the Local Plan.

She said: “The last business, Noa Noa, has changed hands in recent years and was taken over by the owners of Hubbledays next door to the proposed site and owners of the lease for this premises.

“There is not a problem in retail trade there. There is already a high penetration of non-retail units in Duke Street. Duke Street is already a vibrant street — it would not benefit from added ‘vibrancy’. This would be an absolute detriment to other shops as we know what a struggle it is to make a living in eating establishments due to saturation in the town.”

The committee voted to recommend the application is approved. The district council will make a decision by July 13.

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