Sunday, 14 August 2022

Care home site path 'should be official'

HENLEY town councillors have backed the creation of a public footpath across land that is to be redeveloped as a care home.

The narrow access between Mill Lane and the former LA Fitness gym off Newtown Road has been fenced off by Henthames, which has planning permission to demolish the old building and erect a three-storey, 80-bed home.

Opponents say the path has been used as a shortcut for more than two decades without challenge by any landowner so it should remain open.

They have applied to Oxfordshire County Council, the highways authority, for formal recognition of it as a footpath and have identified several residents who are willing to testify in court.

Member of the town council’s recreation and amenities committee voted to support the bid but warned it could be a lengthy process.

Councillor David Nimmo Smith, who is also a county councillor, said: “I used to live in Mill Lane and it was always used as a casual, informal access to save people from going via Reading Road.

“The county council has received the application but there is a national issue with waiting times for these matters and I’m told it can take between five and 10 years to be decided.”

Councillor Sam Evans, who chairs the committee, said: “We should support this. Henthames have been completely clear about their total lack of regard for the people of Henley through their actions.”

Mayor Julian Brookes said Henthames would not keep the path open because it would present a security issue once the home was open — many of the bedrooms will be on the ground floor.

The developer, of Loughton, Essex, says the home will improve the look of the area.

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