Tuesday, 15 June 2021

Council may ban new verge accesses

NEW access points across the verges in Fair Mile, Henley, could be banned.

The town council owns and maintains the verges, where there are currently six entrances.

A seventh one is likely to be created to access a 3.8-hectare site earmarked for 60 homes in the joint Henley and Harpsden neighbourhood plan.

The council is in negotiations with developer Thames Properties over the sale of the land and its value.

Fair Mile is named in the plan as one of several “key views” and a “viewing corridor” between the town and the countryside.

In a report on the verges, the council’s accountant Liz Jones says South Oxfordshire District Council has refused to allow a roundabout to be built on Fair Mile at any access point as it would “clearly spoil the key views along the road looking in either direction”.

She adds: “This limits the amount of traffic that can safely cross the highway and indicates the district council’s own commitment to retaining the unique unspoilt vista.”

Mrs Jones said there had also been problems with parking on the verges, which damaged the grass and by-way, and suggested the offenders were commuters.

She said that signs indicated parking was banned but drivers, possibly commuters, were aware the rules were not regularly enforced.

Councillor Ian Reissmann said the council should not be too prescriptive.

Speaking at a finance strategy and management committee meeting, he said: “There is a real risk of thinking we can implement a series of policies and rules by which we will make future decisions.

“The council can end up being constrained in ways that were not intended and are not helpful.”

But Councillor David Nimmo Smith said: “It leaves it a bit loose. I don’t want to see any new access points on the highway. That could compromise what we are trying to do.”

The proposed policy will be discussed by the full council at a meeting on January 3.

Councillor David Eggleton has previously suggested introducing a residents’ permit scheme on one area of verge in Fair Mile, which is currently free to park on.

The land is used by residents and visitors who don’t want to pay for parking in the town centre.

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