Ever Changing Henley High Street

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.



  1. Rob Heginbotham says:

    What is the right mix? Impossible question.

    Henley is too small (in terms of both population and traffic) to attract the type of retailers that Marlow seems to be pulling in. I am amazed that we are lucky enough to have companies like Joules, Crew, Fat Face etc in the town. The rents are simply too high and coupled with the business rates, which makes it massively tough for any new independents to survive, are a massive dis-incentive – but landlords are greedy and believe that the “Henley cache factor” will always attract tenants……

    Maybe it will, but how many will survive? If I wanted to open an independent retail shop in a riverside town, I would try very hard to be in Marlow as opposed to Henley.

    Did we need Superdrug – maybe – but what price the independent chemist on Bell Street being cone soon?? But the people who decided to switch Cargo to Bensons for beds (same owners) on the same site must have been bonkers – how many bed and furnishing shops does a small town like Henley need – especially with the rise of online – not surprised some of them are shutting.

    We had 2 Gentlemen’s shops, but one was being run by a well known serial fraudster who never paid his bills – and the landlords were stupid enough not to do the research on the 3 other retail businesses he had sent bust…so now they have gone for the safety of another charity shop – they don’t care one jot how many there are as long as their rent gets paid….as you point out above.

    Has anyone counted the number of coffee shops, restaurants, cafes and charity shops in the town compared to genuine retail outlets?? Doesn’t really matter – in the majority of cases they are much busier than the independent shops – so the market economic forces rule what you get.

  2. Ana says:

    New Retail Commiteee for the Development of Henley – range of people, not just councillors, retail experts will help, that investment is what we need.

  3. David Johnston says:

    There are quite a few shops in Henley which I have never visited!
    Would it be interesting to produce a tick list, by street, of all shops etc. in Henley. This might remind readers of the shops which deserve support; and shops (if they could get hold of a resume of ticks) of how their businesses rate. Half baked idea, but you may see what I’m getting at.

  4. wireless waffler says:

    Shops either do not appeal ,and then are victim to their own high charges – this prices them out of business.. A business is a business and they need to make profits. Poundland would not go amiss!


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