Sunday, 13 June 2021

Developers interested in youth centre plot

THE forthcoming sale of the Henley Youth Centre site is attracting interest from developers.

THE forthcoming sale of the Henley Youth Centre site is attracting interest from developers.

The Deanfield Avenue building has closed after the Thamesfield Youth Association announced in June that it could no longer afford the £45,000-a-year running costs.

The land will be put on the open market later this month with Reading estate agents Haslams.

Developers have already made enquiries about the land, which has been allocated 25 homes under the joint Henley and Harpsden neighbourhood plan.

Clive Wilkinson, chairman of the trustees, said: “We have got expressions of interest but until people have seen the sales pack they can’t really bid on it.

“Because we’re a registered charity we have to sell it at the best market price possible. The proceeds will be used to fund youth work in the town.

“I’m quite excited about it really — whatever income we gain we can use positively for young people rather than on a tired old building that’s falling to bits.”

Mr Wilkinson, of Greys Road, Henley, said a valuation had not yet been placed on the land.

The Henley College owns derelict land behind the site and Thames Water a small parcel beyond that.

The HOT (Henley-on-Thames) Frog café, which gives young adults with learning difficulties a taste of work, is still open but is searching for a new home.

Mr Wilkinson said he believed the association had a contract with the café until October.

The café is the responsibility of Henley Social Enterprise, a not-for-profit organisation run by staff at The Henley College as a community hub and to give special needs students work experience.

It opened in November 2010 and serves 20 to 30 customers a day, including students at the college.

The youth centre had been in Deanfield Avenue for more than 50 years, having moved in 1961 from Thamesfield House in Wargrave Road, which is now a retirement home.

The association agreed to the move in return for an annual contribution towards the centre’s overheads from Oxfordshire County Council.

The trustees blamed the centre’s closure on the council’s decision in 2011 to withdraw its annual £25,000 grant. The council denied it was to blame.

Mr Wilkinson said the association was now subsidising the junior youth clubs that are run at the Henley YMCA and youth and community project Nomad on Mondays and Tuesdays.

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