Wednesday, 25 November 2020

New sites for housing put forward

FIFTEEN sites in the Henley area have been offered up for housing development.

FIFTEEN sites in the Henley area have been offered up for housing development.

Owners put them forward as part of the Henley and Harpsden neighbourhood plan and this week the Henley Standard reveals full details of each one.

To see the list of sites put forward click here: Suitable sites for development?

The working group which is developing the plan is discussing the sites together with four others that South Oxfordshire District Council, the planning authority, has deemed suitable in principle for development.

Two of the plots belong to Henley Town Council and the rest are owned by property developers, estate agents, schools or private companies and individuals.

They include the Highlands Farm industrial estate, off Greys Road, the former Empstead Works in Greys Road, two sites in Gillotts Lane, two brownfield sites off Reading Road and three sites off the A4155 near Shiplake.

The plan will identify the preferred locations for 400 homes that must be built in Henley and Harpsden by 2025. It is expected to be completed in time for a public referendum next autumn which could make it a legally enforceable planning document.

The working group will reveal its recommendations at a public exhibition at Henley town hall on December 13 and 14 when developers will also be invited to display their information.

Residents will be invited to choose their preferred areas for development and comment on other aspects of the neighbourhood plan, such as retail, transport, environment and social amenities.

The two town council-owned sites are the former Excusively Ladies gym off Reading Road and the spinney behind the Waterman’s allotments.

Councillors agreed to put them forward for possible development at a confidential meeting earlier this month but decided not to earmark another six sites. Councillor Dieter Hinke, the council’s planning committee chairman, said: “It is important that people realise the council is not putting these sites up for sale.

“We have simply looked at our land supply and asked ourselves which ones we would like the neighbourhood plan committee to consider.

“We have not carried out any surveys of the sites. This is just the first stage in a very long process and we have not gone into that much detail.

“There are all sorts of obstacles that could come up. People might not want houses to go there, developers might decide the sites aren’t profitable or the district council might say they are not suitable.

“The neighbourhood plan is meant to reflect the views of residents, not the town council. We are just making the committee aware that the land is available. In that sense we’re no different from any private landowner in Henley who has come forward.

“However, if the people of Henley feel those sites could be used for housing then in principle we would say ‘yes’ to it.”

Cllr Hinke said the council’s discussions were held in private because the market value of some sites was “quite significant”. He said the six rejected sites were deemed more valuable to the community for their current purpose than for housing.

They include the children’s playground on Freemans Meadow and the field off Valley Road, which has been leased to Sue Ryder for a memorial woodland.

But former mayor Barry Wood, who chairs pressure group United!, said: “I deplore the fact that the town council has cherry-picked which of its sites it will put forward. They should have put everything in and allowed the whole town to have a say in which ones should be built on.”

Among the sites the council rejected were the Waterman’s allotments, where United! says either new homes or the new Townlands Hospital should be built.

Also dismissed were Jubilee Park, off Reading Road, Henley Town Football Club in Mill Lane and Henley Rugby Club in Marlow Road.

Freemans Meadow, off Fair Mile, the 40 acre field behind Valley Road, the town green at Gillotts Field and Makins recreation ground were also discounted.

The sites put forward are shown here: Suitable sites for development?

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