Tuesday, 19 October 2021

Market gardener keeps pitch for extra fortnight

A MARKET gardener in Henley is being allowed to stay at her pitch selling produce for

A MARKET gardener in Henley is being allowed to stay at her pitch selling produce for an extra two weeks.

Tamsin Borlase, who sells her fresh, homegrown vegetables behind Market Place Mews, was due to leave the pitch today (Friday) as the site is set to be redeveloped.

But she has been granted an extension until the end of the month when she will move to a new pitch near the Regal Cinema.

Mrs Borlase, who runs the Bosley Patch market garden at Swiss Farm, said: “I’m very pleased to be staying a bit longer because it’s a really great location. It would be very beneficial for me if it could be extended until the end of the growing season in October.”

Asset managers Catalyst Capital, who own Market Place Mews, are to transform the area into 14 flats and 16,000 sq ft of retail space.

Mrs Borlase raised concern about the redevelopment.

She said: “It may have been appropriate at the time the planning permission was sought but I’m not convinced it’s appropriate today when you’ve got so many struggling independent shops. It’s going to change the landscape of our town enormously.

“We have a town centre that is already largely populated by chains and businesses that really are not necessary for local people.

“The rents are terribly high and it makes it very hard for independents. A lot are closing and shops are changing hands very quickly.

“You can bet your life it’ll be large chains that go in there — it’ll be another nail in the coffin of our high street.” Mrs Borlase’s fellow market traders Brian Poole and Denise Benham are being forced to give up because of the redevelopment, which is expected to take 14 months to complete.

They have worked in Henley for 45 years between them.

Mr Poole, 71, from Hurley, has sold reading glasses, sunglasses and watch batteries from his stall for 15 years but now plans to retire. Mrs Benham, 61, who runs Regal Flowers and is known as the “Flower Lady”, has been in Henley for 30 years.

Mrs Borlase said: “I really hope that somewhere can be found for them because they’re part of the fabric of our community.”

The plans were approved in 2007 when the land was owned by the DeStefano Property Group, a parent company of London and Henley Properties. Last year the company went into administration and the land was sold to Catalyst Capital.

Meanwhile, town councillors are concerned about plans to close the entrance to King’s Road car park nearest the town hall for more than a year while the mews redevelopment takes place.

They are particularly worried about the movement of construction traffic although the developer has agreed to provide someone to manage the loading and unloading of lorries.

A spokesman for South Oxfordshire District Council, which is responsible for the car park, said: “We’re still in discussions with the developer about this work and hope to confirm the timetable of works and the proposed traffic management shortly.”

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