Wednesday, 25 November 2020

Councillors concerned about pub renovation

PLANS to renovate an historic pub in Henley have been criticised by town councillors.

PLANS to renovate an historic pub in Henley have been criticised by town councillors.

JD Wetherspoon, which owns the Catherine Wheel in Hart Street, has applied to South Oxfordshire District Council to refurbish the interior of the pub, which dates back to the 16th century.

The company says the changes would make better use of the space and the pub more accessible to wheelchair users. It also wants to remove seven parking spaces, including one disabled space, at the rear of the pub in order to extend the beer garden.

In its application, the company says the pub currently suffers from “poor internal circulation, poor disabled access and inefficient use of internal spaces”.

Members of the council’s planning committee said they wanted to meet company officials before they could support the plans and were concerned about setting a  precedent.

Mayor Lorraine Hillier said: “The Catherine Wheel is a fantastic asset to this town and caters for everyone but I would really like to talk to them.

“This is a major building. If there’s time to invite them along to present to us we can provide them with a lot of local information that the district council will not be able to.” Councillor Will Hamilton added: “This is an important building in the centre of the town and we have to be very careful with it. If we allow this through then other important buildings will do the same.”

Councillors recommended refusal on the grounds of loss of parking, environmental health, archaeological concerns and loss of an amenity.

The district council will consider the application next month.

Previous plans to renovate the pub were criticised by town councillors in June. They opposed the loss of parking spaces and said the extension of the beer garden could have an negative effect on neighbours.

There has been a pub called the Katherine Wheel in Henley for centuries. It was mentioned in a will of 1499 and in 1564 Le Katharine Whele paid a rent of one angel, or 100 old pence, towards the upkeep of the bridge.

The current pub prospered during the 19th century as one of the town’s main coaching inns. An earlier proprietor, William Atkins, was Mayor of Henley in 1679. He was one of several Henley tradesmen to issue trade tokens, which were used as small change.

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