HENLEY councillors have supported an application to close the Thames Path for next year’s Henley Festival.
The royal regatta stretch on the Remenham side of the river is closed each year so preparations can be made for the five-day festival in early July and cleared away Â afterwards.
The organisers have applied to Wokingham Borough Council for a nine-day closure of the path.
Members of the Henley Town Council’s recreation and amenities committee recommended approval.
The application says that from Monday, July 4 to Wednesday, July 6, a diversion will be required so the festival’s main stage can be built.
Walkers would be diverted about 10m from the towpath for an 80m stretch, which would be fenced off as a construction site.
A larger diversion would cut off the whole festival site from 5.45pm until midnight on July 6 and 7 until 1am on July 8, until 2am on July 9 and until 11.30pm on July 10.
The removal of the stage requires the same diversion as for its construction, from 6am on July 11 to midnight on July 12.
The Henley Festival says in its application that “every effort” will be made to re-open the towpath sooner “as long as it is safe to do so”.
The Open Spaces Society, which is based in Bell Street, Henley, has objected to the application, as it does every year.
It says the Thames Path is a national trail and people come from all over the world to walk it and points out that it wasn’t closed for the first 15 years of the festival
General secretary Kate Ashbrook said: “Once again Wokingham Borough Council looks set to allow the Henley Festival to close the footpath for its activities.
“Our view is it could organise itself so it doesn’t need to enforce the closure of the path.”