Henthames have given official notice to South Oxfordshire District Council (SODC) that they would like to dispose of the land at the old LA Fitness site in Newton Road.
Henthames obtained planning permission to build a 80 bedded care home on the site in November 2016 despite the site being listed as community asset by SODC which was campaigned for by Keep Henley Active. Henthames are a real estate company and were believed to be in discussions with Hallmark Care Homes for the site.
In a letter from SODC to Henley Town Council which was discussed at this week’s Finance, Management and Strategy Committee meeting said:
“There will be a six week interim moratorium period (commencing on the 15 February 2017 and ending on 29 March 2017) for a community interest group to decide whether or not they wish to be treated as a potential bidder.
If an intention to bid is submitted to the council by 29 March 2017, a six month full moratorium period will commence which ends on 15 August 2017 (the six month moratorium includes the six week interim moratorium). The full moratorium period allows community interest groups time to develop plans and raise funds to bid for the Land. The owner of the Land will not be able to make a relevant disposal of the Land until the full moratorium period has ended. Please note that there is no obligation on the owner of the Land to sell the Land to a community interest group.”
At the FSM meeting it was agreed to form a working group to looking at putting together a bid.
Michelle from Keep Henley Active said, “I blame SODC for not setting a precedent and protecting the commercial estate which they list in their Local Plan. 309 Reading Road offices are being turned into flats and there are rumours of more conversions to residential on this estate. The mess is also due to Councillor David Nimmo Smith who didn’t vote on the planning application when he could have.”
Councillor David Nimmo Smith said, “I have nothing further to add to previous comments. Michelle knows that I am not to blame. And she should be aware that my position on the SODC planning committee was compromised by my statements when I chaired the Town Council planning committee. By not being on the HTC planning committee any longer I am free to vote on Henley applications which come before the SODC planning committee.
A representative from Hallmark Care Homes said: “Thank you for getting in touch, however any discussion around this site should be directed to the land owners.”
We have been unable to make contact with Henthames Ltd.