Tuesday, 01 December 2020

Fears over closure of car park entrance

PLANS to close an entrance to a car park in Henley town centre for 14 months

PLANS to close an entrance to a car park in Henley town centre for 14 months are concerning the town council.

Asset managers Catalyst Capital, who own Market Place Mews at the town hall end of King’s Road car park, are to redevelop the area into 14 flats and 16,000 sq ft of retail space.

But the council is worried about the management of construction traffic when the work starts in the next few weeks.

The developer plans to close the car park entrance closest to Market Place to all but construction traffic.

The developer has told the council that it will be providing someone to manage the movement, loading and unloading of lorries on the site.

Councillor Simon Smith, chairman of the council’s planning committee, said: “During the development we are going to lose the north end entrance.

“There will be a banksman by the library. He is at that end because of how the pedestrian access is. They agreed to move the banksman to the roundabout to help pedestrians.

“The construction traffic is going to come up King’s Road from Marlow Road, or wherever. They will turn in where the HGV traffic goes. They are planning to block off the entrance totally for a year.”

Planning permission was granted in 2007 when the mews was owned by the DeStefano Property Group, a parent company of London and Henley Properties, which later went into administration.

However, Catalyst Capital has applied for a condition of the permission to be lifted. The condition stipulates the need for a raised table, a traffic-calming measure, in the car park prior to construction work starting.

The developer says this would restrict lorries making deliveries to Waitrose, which backs on to the car park.

It says: “As Waitrose has a legal right of access, restricting it would be unlawful.”

But the committee recommended that South Oxfordshire District Council insists the condition should remain.

Councillor Stefan Gawrysiak said it was “reasonable” at the time permission was granted and still was.

Councillor Jane Smewing said the issue was “confusing”, adding: “The condition says they should build the raised table before anything else. I’m not clear about whether we need to have it at all.” Mayor Julian Brookes said the developer needed to provide a written update on its plans.

Cllr Gawrysiak said: “I make the proposal that we refuse this as the condition was put in for a very good reason.

“I had heard rumours about this end [of the car park] being closed but I had not seen any paperwork to do with closing this entrance.

“What we need is a decision from the developer and the district council actually saying what is proposed, then we can discuss this.”

Deputy Mayor Will Hamilton said both entrances to the car park should be kept open.

A district council spokesman 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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