Sunday, 21 April 2019

Your chance to have say in town’s future

Your chance to have say in town’s future

RETAILERS, charities and community groups in Henley could be given a greater say in the town’s future development.

The Henley Business Partnership, which meets regularly to discuss matters affecting the local economy, is to gather people’s suggestions for improving conditions and attracting more footfall over the next decade.

Feedback will be passed to the town council, which will soon reconvene its volunteer working groups to update the town’s joint neighbourhood plan.

The first version of the document, which outlines the sites where 500 new houses should go by 2027 and also sets policies on traffic and transport, infrastructure, the environment and business, passed a referendum in 2016.

It needs revision because South Oxfordshire District Council, the planning authority, is expected to increase housing targets across the district in order to meet higher Government quotas by 2033.

The business partnership’s initiative, which is called Destination Henley and is supported by Henley town manager Helen Barnett, held its first meeting at the town hall last week.

About 50 people attended, including independent traders, town councillors and representatives of Phyllis Court Club, the River & Rowing Museum, Leander Club, Gainsborough Residents’ Association, Henley Festival and Higgs Group, publishers of the Henley Standard.

The councillors explained their work on the neighbourhood plan to date while members of the Henley in Transition environmental group talked about their plans to reduce air pollution and reduce congestion.

Guests then discussed possible improvements in four keys areas, business, health and wellbeing, tourism and the arts.

Mrs Barnett said: “It was a very positive meeting. We had some great people in the room and agreed that we need a vision for everyone so that we’re working towards the same thing.

“This was just us dipping our toes in the water as it’s going

to be a huge piece of work and we need to agree a process for collecting all the information we receive.”

Niki Schäfer, the chairwoman of the partnership, said: “Various ‘visions for Henley’ have been discussed ad nauseam over the years and, in that sense, nothing new came out of that first meeting.

“However, it was a chance to keep track of the various plans that people are making and get them excited about the chance to be more closely involved in the future of Henley.

“We just need to find a way of channelling that into something constructive instead of just coming out with more bland statements about ‘being the best’.”

• What do you think? Write to: Letters, Henley Standard, Caxton House, 1 Station Road, Henley or email

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