Sunday, 24 March 2019

Neighbours to fight plans for station car park hotel

Neighbours to fight plans for station car park hotel

NEIGHBOURS have protested at plans for a 100-bed hotel in the car park at Henley station.

Residents of Wyndale Close say the loss of parking spaces would lead to rail travellers parking in their street and they would suffer noise and light nuisance from the hotel.

Network Rail wants to dispose of 61 of the 249 spaces in the car park, which it says is underused, to make way for the hotel. Another 50 bays would be lost during the construction period.

The company says the development is expected to be completed by September next year, even though a planning application has not yet been submitted.

Wyndale Close Residents’ Association has written a protest letter to Network Rail, saying that demand for parking spaces in Henley is growing and reducing the current number would exacerbate the problem.

It says that 20 spaces are already reserved for workers at Hallmark House in Station Road and Invesco, the finance management company in Reading Road, leases another 35 spaces.

The letter says: “We see this car park on a daily basis and at all times of the day and it is almost always full.

“Cars are often seen circling the town, looking for parking, which creates congestion and air pollution.

“We fear that this situation will worsen with the loss of these critical spaces and will result in pushing parking on to roads around the station and areas further down the network, such as Shiplake station, which is already congested.

“We also fear the effect this loss of parking will have on local businesses in Henley whose staff and customers rely on this parking.

“Our road, as the first road after the station, has had an historic problem with unauthorised parking. It is a private road as it cannot be adopted and we are unable to become part of a residents-only parking scheme due to the dimensions.

“As such, we have been forced to pay for no-parking signage and planters in order to deter parking. We are concerned that unauthorised parking on our road will worsen as spaces are culled at the station.”

The residents are also worried about the potential for overlooking, the impact on views from their upstairs rooms and loss of light.

The letter says: “We are concerned that lights and noise from a hotel that operates 24-7 will have a negative impact on our daily lives, particularly in the unsociable hours of the night. We trust that any restaurant and bar would be located on the ground floor and windows facing our neighbouring dwellings would be frosted and sealed to mitigate noise and light pollution.

“The always-open nature of a hotel is very different to the station that only operates between the hours of 6am and midnight. Further noise issues would be the location of the electricity supply plant to the hotel, the hotel’s plant room, which should be out of sight, below ground level, air and kitchen extraction units and a likely roof generator.

“Furthermore, deliveries and refuse collection for the hotel and express supermarket should be limited to daytime only.

“The outdoor space required of a hotel to house bin stores and smoker’s areas would inevitably be at the back of the hotel, nearest our homes. There should be a no-smoking zone in the area adjacent to any residential land and a pre-agreed site waste management plan.”

The residents say they are also concerned that the building would be a “modern box-like structure”.

“This style of architecture is not in keeping with the period character of our beautiful town,” says the letter. “We would urge that careful consideration is taken of the appropriateness of the development and how the proposed building looks against the surroundings.

“Given the potential negative impact of this proposal, we request that a more holistic view of the car park is taken and consideration is given to moving the development to a more suitable site further down the car park, nearer existing commercial premises. This would be less impactful to the local neighbourhood and allow for parking close to the station.”

Anna King, who chairs the residents’ association, sent a copy of the letter to Henley Town Council and South Oxfordshire District Council, the planning authority.

Mrs King, 40, said: “We have loads of issues but the main one is parking. The station car park is always full — where are all these displaced people going to park?”

Neighbour Lorna Watson, 80, said: “If there has to be a hotel, they should put it at the other end of the car park where they would not be disturbing anyone.”

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