Alex Hersham who owns the site of the former Wyevale Garden Centre on the Reading Road with his mother Aida Dellal (owner of Fawley Court) gave a presentation to the Henley Town Council (HTC) Planning Committee on a proposed mixed housing and commercial development on the site this week.
He opened the presentation by saying, “The site is a derelict brownfield site. The government are keen to get these sites back into use.”
The site has been lying dormant since Wyvale closed in 2009 and was designated as a commercial use site in the Joint Henley and Harpsden Neighbourhood Plan.
Over the last 5 years the site has been marketed as a commercial site with active marketing through Savills over the last year. Alex confirmed that two reports have now been conducted (independent and one by SODC) which show the site isn’t financially viable as an exclusive commercial site.
A public consultation took place in November, where plans for a mixed use were exhibited showing 40 new homes (apartments and houses) including 40% affordable, commercial buildings and a community hub which could be used by the Henley Army and Air cadets (their current HQ in Friday Street may be disposed of by the MOD). The consultation was attended by 127 people. Alex presented some statistics from the consultation which stated that 90% of people agreed that the site should be redeveloped in some way, with 75% agreeing with the proposed landscaping proposal and 60% agreeing with the mixed-use development.
Proposed plans will also include financial contributions towards speed calming measures, a mini roundabout at the entrance, a pedestrian road crossing on Reading Road, new bus shelters at the bus stops and refurbishment of the footpath down to Shiplake village.
Asked by Councillor David Eggleton whether the affordable housing could be ring fenced for locals, Alex replied, “If we can do this legally, then we definitely will.”
Councillor Will Hamilton asked Alex whether free community tennis courts could be included in the plans and said, “The Council is also looking for a new depot which could be sited there” (the current HTC depot is behind Tesco and is earmarked for development).
Alex confirmed that a full planning application will be submitted to SODC for the site next month.