Oxfordshire County Council are demanding that Clive Hemsley takes down the lights on Henley Bridge as he doesn’t have planning permission.
The Henley Herald launched an online campaign ‘Keep Henley Bridge Lights’ last week and to date has over 1800 signatures. Clive is hoping that the petition will support his retrospective planning application he is planning to submit. Clive said, “I just wanted to make it happen. I don’t do bureaucracy. It wouldn’t have happened otherwise and I’ve received some really lovely personal letters and emails in support of the lights.”
Ramanie Kunanayagam wrote, “I just wanted to let you know, Scott (my husband) and myself love the lights on Henley bridge and thought it was a fantastic effort on your part to think about it, design this and make a contribution to our town. We only wish more people thought like yourself, as we do live in a beautiful town, but in our observation, the town does not have a strong sense of community. It really is lovely and subtle but highlights the fantastic architectural feature of the town along with as you say helping those navigate the river at night.We have both signed the petition supporting the lights on Henley bridge. In our view the Council should be supporting innovation not hindering it and using bureaucracy to thwart community spirit and initiative. Thank you so much Clive for your contribution.”
Clive is also looking for the support of Henley Town Council at the Full Council Meeting on the 27 March and would like to put a call out through the Henley Herald for someone to help him with the planning application who understands and knows the legal system. Can you or someone you know help with this? Please contact us via firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll put you in touch.
Whilst installing the lights, Clive has found that the many parts of the bridge are need of urgent repair (see image below). He said, “I think Oxfordshire County Council should be more concerned about the state of the bridge rather than the lights at this moment in time.”
When the lights were switched on 27 February, Clive told us that he was surprised to hear a big cheer from beneath the bridge. He said, “I looked down to see that the cheer was coming from about 15 members of the Marlow Canoeing Club who were bathed in light. The lights also provide safety for all sizes of river craft – another good reason to keep them.”
Oxfordshire County Council spokesperson said, “We are working with our conservation colleagues in South Oxfordshire District Council and Wokingham Borough Council on the removal of the lights. We were not approached before the work was done and have not given permission for the lights to be installed. We are in the process of seeking to have the lights removed under our supervision shortly. We would be very happy to consider permitting a lighting trial at any of our Oxfordshire river bridges if it were supported by the relevant local council and an acceptable method of installation and removal had been provided to us and agreed before any installation took place.”
South Oxfordshire District Council spokesperson said, “There is no formal record of planning advice being given by South Oxfordshire District Council on this subject. The bridge is a Grade I listed structure and as such, is subject to additional regulations under the Planning (Listed Building and Conservation Areas) Act 1990. Council planning officers are therefore currently investigating whether there is a need for listed building consent.”
The lights will hopefully remain on until at least the end of March as Clive believes that the river is currently too high and running too fast to make it safe for their removal.
If you haven’t already shown your support, click on the link above to sign the petition.