Wednesday, 25 November 2020

Councillors oppose ‘premature’ flats plan

PLANS for 55 homes at the former Jet petrol station and National Tyres garage in Henley have been opposed by

PLANS for 55 homes at the former Jet petrol station and National Tyres garage in Henley have been opposed by the town council, writes James Burton.

Inland Homes wants to build six blocks comprising 11 one-bedroom flats, 42 with two bedrooms and two with three bedrooms at the site in Reading Road.

The council’s planning committee has recommended the scheme for refusal, arguing it would spoil the character of the area.

Members criticised the company for filing a planning application while the Henley and Harpsden joint neighbourhood plan is being drawn up.

The site is earmarked for housing in the second draft of the plan but this has not yet gone out to public consultation.Councillors are also concerned that the town could lose £100,000 worth of benefits if the flats get the go-ahead in the next few months.

South Oxfordshire District Council is joining the Government’s community infrastructure levy scheme, which will oblige developers to pay for community projects if they get planning permission but the process will not be finalised until the summer and the developer could not be forced to pay retrospectively.

Each of its proposed blocks would be built of red brick and have two or three storeys with gabled roofs. They would be screened from the main road by a line of new trees and interspersed with gardens and landscaped courtyards.

Committee chairman Dieter Hinke said: “I am disappointed that this application has come through at this time. [Inland] should have waited until the people of this town have agreed the site is suitable, so it is premature.”

Councillor Lorraine Hillier said: “It would scar the landscape right at the gateway to our town. Even a Travelodge would be more appropriate — I’d rather see that.

“With the neighbourhood plan being written we can’t look at individual schemes in a piecemeal fashion. We need to look at the whole picture.”

Inland bought the site last year. The tyre centre closed in January followed by the petrol station in June, after which both were demolished.

In a survey carried out by the town council as part of the neighbourhood plan, 84 per cent of respondents supported developing the site.

The district council will decide the application by the end of next month.

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