Sunday, 19 September 2021

Giant skip made my shop look closed

A SHOPKEEPER in Henley claims her takings were halved while an industrial container was left outside her premises for a

A SHOPKEEPER in Henley claims her takings were halved while an industrial container was left outside her premises for a month.

Georgina Henderson, who has owned Foam Fashion in Hart Street for eight years, said the 7m long skip blocked most of the shop from view so that many passers-by thought it was closed.

She said her takings between February 18 and March 18 had dropped from £11,500 last year to £5,700 this year.

Ms Henderson, 50, said: “I knew it had been quiet but I was thinking, ‘well, everyone knows we’re here’.

“It was only when I looked from the other side of the road that I could see it looked like we were under construction. You couldn’t see the shop from most angles.”

The skip was placed in the road to dispose of rubble collected from a construction site in Squires Yard, where two houses are being built, after a wall collapsed.

Court Park Properties, which is project-managing the construction site on behalf of owners River 88, had obtained a licence from Oxfordshire County Council to use the container for the month.

But Ms Henderson said she was not told the skip was coming and only found out on the day it arrived.

“When it turned up it was a massive container,” she said. “If it was a little skip that would have been fine but this was ridiculous.”

She complained to the council but she said: “No one is really shouldering the responsibility. As far as everyone is concerned, it was within all the legislation.”

Now she is facing the prospect of more disruption as Court Park Properties has been given permission to use the section of the road outside Foam, including three parking spaces, to place building materials for 18 months.

Ms Henderson said: “It’s great they are building two houses there because the site was derelict and horrible but we’re the ones who are going to suffer throughout this. When you put building materials outside a shop there’s an assumption that you aren’t trading because you look like a building site.

“Shops need a window to tempt people in but with a lot of building materials outside over the summer that’s not going to happen.

“Maybe we could put a plastic banner on the outside saying ‘open as usual’ but it’s scary because of the difference in takings in the one month.

“Summer is the one good season we get here and we rely on the period between May and July.

“During the regatta and the other events going on, we get a lot of people who are introduced to Henley. We rely very much on our regulars but those events during the summer give us a boost and balance out the dark winter months.”

Ms Henderson, who lives in Duke Street, said the loss of parking spaces would discourage passing trade.

“We get a lot of customers who will stop if there’s a space outside but that will be jammed,” she said.

“Relocation isn’t really an option but if it’s going to go on for a year-and-a-half we might have to move.”

Shop manager Georgi Cort, 25, said customers had asked if the shop was closing down when the skip was outside.

She added: “People said they couldn’t be in here while the building work was going on outside because it was so noisy so it’s not just the visuals. You don’t want to be in a shop when there’s rubble flying about.”

Mike Moss, owner of Court Park Properties, said he was expecting Ms Henderson to write to him to explain the trade she had lost.

“We are happy to deal with the complaint in a proper manner, however to date no information has been forthcoming,” he said.

“We obtained all the relevant consent and as far as we were aware every owner along the road has been communicated with.”

Mr Moss estimated that the building work would take about 10 months.

A county council spokesman said: “The skip was required by developers to undertake works behind the shops and was situated in the most appropriate position.

“In order to place a skip on the highway, the developers were required to apply for a licence. A licence was granted for the period between February 18 and March 18.”

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