Sunday, 19 September 2021

New plans submitted for historic shop front

PLANS to redesign a Henley shop front have been changed.

CAU Restaurants has decided not to alter any windows at the former La Bodega restaurant in Hart Street, which it has taken over.

It has amended its planning application and resubmitted it to South Oxfordshire District Council.

The company stresses its decision is not connected with criticism of its plans by Henley councillors and residents.

The company had wanted to install large windows, a covered canopy, a fascia sign and a projecting sign.

Henley Town Council’s planning committee voted to recommend the scheme for rejection, arguing this would be detrimental to the street scene.

Mayor Martin Akehurst said he agreed with the chairman of the Henley Society that the new design was “crude and oppressive”. Councillor David Clenshaw called the design “abysmal”.

A CAU spokesman said the company had decided on the changes before the committee met.

“We had come to the same conclusion as the town council to keep the windows even before the meeting,” he said.

“We can’t submit something in a couple of days - we have to book in architects and it takes around three-and-a-half weeks from starting the drawings to having them signed off.

“We probably would have got planning permission anyway because the conservation officer had recommended us for approval if we changed the design of the sign, which we did.

“He also mentioned the windows, although he didn’t recommend changing the design.

“We then looked at it again and decided we would like the windows to stay as they are or as close as we can to that. It’s a coincidence that we and the town council have both reached the same conclusion.”

Under the amended plans the front door of the restaurant will be brought forward to protect diners from the weather as well as create easier access for wheelchairs and pushchairs.

The curved windows will remain unchanged other than replacing the perspex panes with glass and the sign will now be made of wood.

In a covering email with the amended plans, agents Pegasus Group said the changes “should assist in addressing the concerns of the town council”.

The consultation period for the amended plans has now begun and a decision is likely to be made by the district council in November.

Cau is a chain of restaurants specialising in steak. It already has branches in Cambridge, Guildford, Kingston, Bristol, Blackheath and Tunbridge Wells as well as Amsterdam.

La Bodega closed last month after more than 10 years in the town.

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