Saturday, 17 November 2018

First payment of £5,000 with more to come

A DEVELOPER has paid Henley Town Council almost £5,000 for being allowed to convert an office block into flats.

The Air Group, of Oxford, was given planning permission in June to extend and add a third storey to Isis House in Station Road to make room for six two-bedroom flats and one with three bedrooms.

As part of the deal, South Oxfordshire District Council, the planning authority, received £19,762.51 and it has passed on 25 per cent, or £4,940.63, on to Henley.

It is the first money to be allocated in the district under the community infrastructure levy, which is designed to help fund improvements to roads, transport and other public facilities affected by housing developments.

Henley was eligible to receive 25 per cent of the fee rather than the usual 15 per cent because it has adopted a neighbourhood plan.Councillor John Cotton, leader of the district council, said: “It’s very good news that we have received the first payment under the infrastructure levy scheme.

“The town council in Henley will be responsible for investing £5,000 back into the area, helping to support the growing community there.

“The scheme was adopted in April and already nearly £5 million is due to be paid to us. Income from the levy will grow as more and more developers pay in, so this is just a sign of things to come.”

Councillor Will Hamilton, who chairs Henley Town Council’s finance strategy and management committee, said: “We are expecting community infrastructure levy payments on the Wilkins site and all the other sites.

“There could be considerable money coming to this town council to spend.” Henley MP John Howell raised the issue with Theresa May in the Commons at Prime Minister’s Questions on Wednesday.

He asked: “Will the Prime Minister join me in praising Henley-on-Thames for receiving its first tranche of community infrastructure levy money at the higher rate because it has a neighbourhood plan?

“Will she join me in praising neighbourhood planning generally as the best means of giving communities a say over the planning system?”

Mrs May replied: “I am very happy to congratulate my neighbouring MP and Henley-on-Thames on that achievement.

“My hon. friend is absolutely right that neighbourhood plans are a crucial part of the planning system. That is how local people can have a real say over what is happening in their local area.”

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