Henley high street continues to be an ever changing landscape with the closing and opening of shops, cafes and restaurants.
Over the last month, we’ve seen Da Luca, the Italian restaurant close its doors on Market Place after just 18 months of trading. Closing soon are Central Home on Reading Road and Henley Cycles on the corner of Station Road plus due to the company going into administration, EAST womenswear which opened a year ago on Duke Street will mean another three empty retail shops in Henley.
Whether you like charity shops or not, British Heart Foundation have put in planning for new signage on the old Henley Studios in Duke Street which after the loss of Blue Cross shop in January means that if plans go through there will be still 5 charity shops in one street. The Helen & Douglas House shop however may go if the charity closes its hospice in Oxford in August which it announced this week. Although a petition with 20,000 signatures has been started calling for NHS funding to stop the closure. Charity shops currently get a relief of up to 80% off their business rates with local (billing) authorities choosing to top up by an additional 20% which means they can probably pay higher rents.
Another new independent coffee shop, Drifters is due to open soon in the old Upstairs & Downstairs shop on Duke Street and national coffee shop, Harris + Hoole have finally submitted a planning application for new signage on the old Maison Blanc shop on the corner of Hart and Duke Street.
Neither Henley Town Council or South Oxon District Council have any real say over who takes over a retail unit unless they are applying for a change of use for example from an A1 retail to A3 (sale of food for consumption on the premises).
Strada in Bell Street closed at the start of January but is due to reopen after a complete refurbishment as a Coppa Club.
What’s happening with the new Market Place Mews (Gardiner Place) development? Construction workers left the site in December and have not returned since. Chair of the Town Council Planning Committee, Councillor Ken Arlett said, “Work has stopped on the site due to agreements not being signed between SODC and McLaren.”
Will Henley ever attract the right mix of retail (chain and independent), coffee shops and nail bars? Leave your comments below.