Saturday, 31 July 2021

Actor says Townlands ‘looks like a factory’

ACTOR Rodney Bewes says a picturesque view from his Henley home has been spoiled by the new Townlands

ACTOR Rodney Bewes says a picturesque view from his Henley home has been spoiled by the new Townlands Hospital.

The 78-year-old star of Sixties sitcom The Likely Lads used to be able to see greenery and trees on Remenham Hill from the first floor of his house in Hop Gardens.

But now the view has been blocked by the new hospital, which is due to be completed within weeks.

Widower Mr Bewes says he particularly objects to the large grey plant rooms on the roof of the new three-storey building.

He said: “You used to be able to see the great grassy hill, which was beautiful. You could see the colour of the trees change through the seasons. Then the new hospital came.

“You can’t object because the people of the town are going to need it but I don’t think the architect had thought about what it was going to look like from here.

“It’s such a shame for all the householders in Hop Gardens. A lot of my neighbours feel the same.’

Mr Bewes, who lives alone with his cat Maurice following the death of his wife Daphne in May last year, said property prices in the street would suffer, although he has no plans to move.

From his first floor bedroom and living room, he can see across the Hambleden Valley and make out the spire and clock tower of St Mary’s Church in Hart Street.

However, the view towards Remenham Hill is dominated by the hospital, which backs on to his garden. Mr Bewes said: “Previously it was just a single-storey building and you could still see the clock in the Waitrose car park.

“You used to be able to see across the valley, along Remenham Hill and the clock tower but now I look at this grey shed. You can’t get away from it.

“I thought the new building was going to be further away than it is. All I can see now are these big grey blocks on the top of the roof. It looks like a  factory.

“I think it would look more artistic if they painted clouds on the grey parts but that would never happen.

“It’s a shame that I can’t see the hill anymore. If I walk down the road I can see what my view used to be like.’

Mr Bewes is not the first person to criticise the height of the hospital.

In August, Patricia Campbell, who lives in York Road, said the new building seemed even more overbearing than she had feared.

She said: “It’s overwhelmingly high and really is terrible. It’s on top of us all here.

“I fought long and hard for this hospital not to be where it is because it’s totally out of keeping with the environment and the conservation area.

“Obviously it went ahead and I was very, very surprised how near the top of the road it was because if you look back at any of the plans and drawings showing how it was going to be, it was rather laid back.

“It really is an eyesore and it shouldn’t be there, I think. It does seem to me not as it was envisaged.’

Martin Dawes, 64, also noticed the grey units on the roof, which house mechanical and electrical equipment.

He said: “The amount of stuff they are putting on the roof seems quite substantial.

“If it started blocking the light out from my garden I’d be a bit annoyed.’

An NHS Property Services spokesman said: “A hospital is at the heart of the community and we are always keen to be a good neighbour.

“In this instance the issue was considered when the planning application was approved by South Oxfordshire District Council.

“The community has long campaigned for this new facility which provides a £10million investment in a state-of-the-art hospital for Henley.’

In July South Oxfordshire District Council launched an investigation into claims that the hospital been built higher than in the approved planning application but it found there was no breach.

In 2009 Mr Bewes campaigned to stop a new razor wire fence at Friar Park, the home of Olivia Harrison, widow of Beatle George.

He claimed the fence had injured his pet Maurice and cost him thousands of pounds in vet’s bills.

Mrs Harrison had applied to South Oxfordshire District Council to renew 985m of the 2ft fence, which backs on to Hop Gardens.

In the end she replaced the fence without the razor wire on top.

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