Wednesday, 25 November 2020

Marines reserve HQ offered for housing

THE Royal Marines Reserve headquarters in Henley could be developed for housing.

THE Royal Marines Reserve headquarters in Henley could be developed for housing.

The detachment is to vacate the building in Friday Street and move to new premeses under plans announced by the Ministry of Defence in July.

At the time, the MoD said there were no plans to sell the building and it would remain open to community groups including Henley’s army and sea cadets.

Now it says the site might be available for development within two to five years, although it would not sell unless a new home could be found for the cadets.

The MoD’s change of heart was revealed at an exhibition about the joint Henley and Harspden neighbourhood plan held at the town hall on Friday and Saturday.

Organisers said more than 450 people attended the display, which offered information about the 17 sites in the two parishes that have been offered up for housing.Developers and landowners were on hand to outline their proposals and answer visitors’ questions.

The MoD says the 0.4-acre plot in Friday Street could accommodate 15 houses but Nexus Planning, a consultant on the neighbourhood plan, believes four to eight is the maximum.

The other sites include: a field north-west of Luker Avenue; Treetops in Gillotts Lane; a playing field at Gillotts School; the former Empstead Works off Greys Road; the Chilterns End care home in Chilterns End Close; land on Drawback Hill behind Blandy Road; the Jet garage in Reading Road; the former Exclusively Ladies gym off Reading Road; woodland between Parklands and Pack and Prime Lane; Sheephouse Farm, off Reading Road; Highlands Farm, off Greys Road; the spinney behind the Watermans allotments in Reading Road and Wilkins’ offices in Deanfield Avenue.

The other three are Thames Farm, the former Wyevale garden centre and Mount Ida, a private house, all of which are off the A4155 near Lower Shiplake.

The plan is designed to find which sites are the most popular with residents for the 450-plus homes that must be built in Henley by 2027.

Visitors to the exhibition filled out or took away questionnaires to complete and their answers will be analysed by nine working groups when they meet again in February.

The housing group will compile a shortlist of sites based on residents’ feedback which will be put to public consultation.

Dieter Hinke, chairman of the neighbourhood plan governance committee, said: “The response was absolutely brilliant. It was busy throughout the two days and the developers were asked lots of questions.

“The high turnout demonstrated the commitment and maturity of the Henley and Harpsden community in taking a proactive approach to resolving the challenges we face.”

Matt Kinghan, of Nexus Planning, called the exhibition “a great success”, adding: “People seemed to really engage with the material and value the opportunity to speak to the site promoters.”

For more information or to download a questionnaire, visit Questionnaires must be returned by January 13.

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