Thursday, 03 December 2020

Keep Henley Active campaign gathers pace

CAMPAIGNERS fighting to re-open a Henley gym and swimming pool have now collected almost 1,250 signatures on a petition

CAMPAIGNERS fighting to re-open a Henley gym and swimming pool have now collected almost 1,250 signatures on a petition.

The Keep Henley Active pressure group, which wants to save the former LA Fitness complex in Newtown Road, set up a stall in Market Place on Saturday.

They gave out leaflets informing shoppers about proposals for an 80-bed care home on the site and encouraging them to formally object.

They also asked them to sign the petition, which they will present to South Oxfordshire District Council, as part of their case against the scheme.

Among those who attended were Henley Mayor Lorraine Hillier, Deputy Mayor Julian Brookes, town councillors David Nimmo Smith and David Eggleton and Simon Dunster, chairman of Henley?s ?town team?.

Also present were Leander Club rower and Olympic bronze medallist Will Satch and his mother Sally.

Satch said: ?This is a very important issue. People need gyms to be able to train and having this facility will give them the opportunity to do that.

?I got a scholarship to Shiplake College because of sport and gyms were a very important part of that.?

Developer Henthames, of Loughton, Essex, bought the site for £1.8million last year and declined to renew LA Fitness?s lease so the gym shut in August. The company submitted a planning application last month.

The campaigners say Henthames? application should be refused as it against district council planning policy to get rid of a leisure facility unless there is a suitable alternative.

They say one anonymous investor from the Henley area wants to buy the site and run it as a gym and pool while two others want to rent it for this purpose.

Nick Roullier, from Shiplake, one of the campaign?s leaders, said: ?What amazed me was the number of people who drove in specifically to sign the petition after seeing it advertised.

?These were former gym members who took the time to come into town and park up despite the terrible weather.

?It?s a pretty black-and-white case that Henthames? application shouldn?t be approved. It would be awful if the gym was demolished.?

Michelle Thomas, of Belle Vue Road, Henley, who is also spearheading the campaign, said: ?A lot of people still weren?t aware of Henthames? plans and were very angry to hear about them.

?I reckon we could have got even more signatures if it had been a nicer day. The town went pretty dead once it started raining at lunchtime.

?We?re very glad that Will was able to attend because Henley has a proud sporting heritage in terms of rowing and more recently swimming on the Thames.

?It helped raise our profile by having a home-grown Olympian who is concerned about the lack of facilities in the town.?

Henley Town Council?s planning committee will discuss the application on Tuesday.

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