Saturday, 28 November 2020

Care home plan could bring traffic chaos

RESIDENTS fear they will face traffic chaos if a new care home in Henley is given

RESIDENTS fear they will face traffic chaos if a new care home in Henley is given planning permission.

Developer Henthames wants to build a three-storey home with 80 beds and 32 parking spaces at the former LA Fitness gym in Newtown Road.

It plans to create a new main entrance off Mill Lane while staff, contractors and delivery lorries would use the old access from the neighbouring industrial estate.

Residents of Mill Lane say the narrow street often gets congested and the development would make the problem worse.

The road is especially busy when Henley Town Football Club play home matches at weekends.

Many people also use the free car park next to the club’s Triangle ground when going for a walk along the towpath at the bottom of the lane. Some drivers park on sections of the street where there are no double yellow lines, obstructing access to residents’ homes.

Michael Paul, who has lived in Mill Lane for 20 years, said: “I can speak for many residents who are very concerned about this.

“If there’s a football match on, the spur to several homes off Mill Lane gets totally blocked. I don’t think there’s enough space for any extra vehicles.

“Several of us are going to discuss it next week before deciding whether to object but I’m definitely against the access proposals.”

Bill Rose, who owns the Rose & Son timber merchant opposite the care home site, said the problem would get worse if plans for 55 flats at the former Jet garage by the entrance to Mill Lane were also approved.

He said: “It’s a ludicrous idea and people are very worried. No one will be able to move if all these developments go ahead. The care home would have so few parking spaces that visitors would park wherever they could.

“It’s impossible to move people in and out of here on that scale. The lane’s already full at times and there are days when we struggle to get in and out of our premises.”

BBC Radio Berkshire presenter Mike Read, who lives in Mill Lane, said: “You’d think it would make more sense to have access via the wider existing road — why create a new one here?”

Sir David Higgins, executive chairman of the HS2 rail project, who is also a resident, said: “Everyone is taking an interest in the proposal. I’m sure many will want to have their say as there’s already concern about congestion on match days.

“I’m reserving judgement until I’ve studied the application but I want to see evidence that the lane can cope, especially if emergency access is needed.”

Henthames will allocate 15 parking spaces for visitors and 18 for staff. It says this is enough based on “comparison with the levels of parking observed at existing care homes”.

It admits there would be a “very small additional increase” in traffic in Mill Lane but says traffic in Newtown Road would be reduced.

The district council will decide whether to approve the scheme in January. Henley Town Council’s planning committee is expected to discuss it at its meeting on November 24.

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