Sunday, 14 August 2022

Housing would ‘put strain on schools’

Henley and Harpsden Neighbourhood Plan

NEW housing developments in Henley proposed under the town’s neighbourhood plan could put a strain on primary schools, it has been claimed.

The joint Henley and Harpsden neighbourhood plan passed a referendum in 2016 but is currently being rewritten following claims that it hasn’t protected the town from unwanted development.

It will decide where 500 new homes in Henley should go, while the town is expected to be asked to take another 350 new homes by 2033 under South Oxfordshire District Council’s new local plan.

A working group for the plan now says that two of the town’s four state primary schools are full, meaning if too many children move to the area they may struggle to find a place.

At a meeting of the neighbourhood plan committee on Tuesday last week, Rebecca Chandler-Wilde said Valley Road and Trinity schools are currently full but there is room at both Badgemore and Sacred Heart primaries, while Gillotts is also under capacity.

But town councillor Ken Arlett, who chairs the committee, said: “If you have a knock-on from developments, the primary schools are not going to be sufficient.”

Kester George, chairman of Harpsden Parish Council, said he was worried that developments near the village would affect Shiplake Primary School.

He said: “Shiplake Primary has places but still probably not enough to deal with the Thames Farm and Wyevale developments.”

The committee also suggested measures to alleviate traffic problems in the town as part of the plan, including larger car parks and schemes to encourage cycling.

Joan Clark said: “Look at the number of places where you can safely tie bikes up — Falaise Square has two and one is constantly full up. There are very few around.

“Could we look at ways it could become more cycling friendly?”

David Whitehead suggested that shoppers ought to be prepared to walk from the train station or rugby club car parks into the centre of town.

Patrick Fleming said he had spoken to Peter Brett Associates, which carried out a transport study in the town in 2015.

He blamed Split-Cycle Offset Optimisation Technique, or Scoot, a computer system used by the county council that measures how busy the roads are and automatically adjusts the timing of the traffic lights.

Mr Fleming said: “One of the symptoms of the saturation of Henley is the Scoot system. It doesn’t work and there will often be queuing through the whole town. Any control on traffic flow is notional.”

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