Saturday, 25 September 2021

Councillors disagree over type of redevelopment

LOCAL councillors are divided on the issue of redeveloping the site.

Councillor Ken Arlett, who is chairman of Henley Town Council’s planning committee and the Henley and Harpden neighbourhood plan committee, said: “I see garden centres being converted into housing a lot, so I imagine the district council will be behind it.

“If it can’t get a judicial review of the decision to allow the Thames Farm development, it will find this very hard to oppose as it’s brownfield land and in the neighbourhood plan.

“The only question is whether it will then happen to the next field along, the next one after that and so on.”

Town councillor David Eggleton said: “I think it’s fantastic. The layout they’ve suggested will mix people from different backgrounds and income levels and it has got everyhing on one site.

“It will be important to reserve the affordable housing for people with a proven local connection, for a limited time at least. Without that, they could just be bought by people from outside who want a second home in the area.”

Fellow town councillor Lorraine Hillier said: “I like the mixture of housing and the way it’s laid out.

“I don’t think there will be issues with traffic or access because it would have seen far more journeys when it was a garden centre.” But Kester George, chairman of Harpsden Parish Council, said: “The site was allocated in the neighbourhood plan for light industrial use and we believe that would be best to stick with.

“The present owner has failed to find that use and so is seeking residential use. From our point of view, that is very much second best and certainly if Thames Farm gets 95 houses.

“I am still in hope that we will find an industrial use for which efforts are being made and, if we do, that’s very much the best outcome.”

David Bartholomew, who represents Shiplake on Oxfordshire County Council, said: “I think Shiplake residents are going to be very concerned about the potential for another 40 houses on top of the 95 at Thames Farm and also 33 to be delivered in the village’s neighbourhood plan.

“That’s getting on for 200 extra houses and nearly a 40 per cent increase on the size of the village.

“The proposal for 40 houses plus a mixed use facility is in complete conflict with the joint Henley and Harpsden neighbourhood plan where the site is down for light industrial use.

“We have already had a huge transgression with the Thames Farm decision and very much hope that the neighbourhood plan will be complied with by the planning authority.”

Peter Boros, who chairs Shiplake’s neighbourhood plan steering group, said: “The land is not within Shiplake so it is not part of its neighbourhood plan but I dare say there is going to be considerable opposition to further housing at an unsustainable location.

“That was the same argument for Thames Farm and the judicial review is still running. People’s overall attitude will be contingent on the outcome of that, if it is finally rejected.

“There is great feeling that one shouldn’t be linking up Henley with Shiplake and Shiplake Cross and other villages and there should still be a green gap between them.”

A spokesman for Aida Dellal, who owns the land, said: “The Government, district council and Harpsden Parish Council all recognise the benefits of redeveloping brownfield sites.

“As this is previously developed, these proposals do not create any precedent for additional housing development in the surrounding area and will have no impact on other applications for local greenfield land.

“The new high-quality homes that we are planning will also go some way towards meeting the high demand for housing within South Oxfordshire.”

For more information, email or write freepost to: Former Wyevale Garden Centre, Local Dialogue, 77a Tradescant Road, London, SW8 1XJ.

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