Refusal of Planning Permission at Lovibonds is Over-Turned on Appeal

The Planning Inspectorate appeal against South Oxfordshire District Council’s decision to refuse planning permission for 7 one-bedroom luxury flats to be built on the site of Lovibonds behind 19-21 Market Place has been over-turned and planning permission has been given.

Landlord David Fitz-John submitted plans to develop the site in October 2017 and the plans were revised in March 2018.  Henley Town Council Planning Committee recommended that the application should be refused and former Henley Mayor, Councillor Glen Lambert campaigned to save Lovibonds which saw 174 local people and tourists completing 174 written objections to the loss of the historic and unique brewery venue in the heart of Henley.

The decision by SODC last month said, “The proposed development would result in the loss of an essential community facility in the form of a premises that provides a venue for regular events benefiting both the local community and tourists. The application does not provide any mechanism to secure alternative accessible premises in Henley Town Centre for these events.”

In The Planning Inspectorate report by Stephen Papworth he said, “The appeal premises are not the last, or even nearly the last, community facility in Henley that serves drinks, provides a place for like-minded people to meet and which provides live-music, although submissions have been made as to the nature of other places and the size of bands accommodated. On the evidence available, the loss of the community facility would not be likely to cause harm to the viability and vitality of Henley town centre, nor jeopardise the operation of the rural economy.”

Councillor Glen Lambert said, “Given the weakness of the appeal and the strength of the opposition with an impressive 134 people writing separate representations against the appeal, many of which were very detailed and well-researched, we were as surprised as we were appalled that the planning inspector failed to appreciate how unique and valuable Lovibonds is.With such a strong and determined community supporting Lovibonds, including both Henley Town Council and SODC, I am very confident that this is not the last word. Numerous discussions have already taken place on potential next steps and I have no doubt a plan will emerge soon.”

Lovibonds Owner, Jeff Rosenmeier said, This decision is obviously irrational and a blow to my business and to the community that we have built up over the years.  Unfortunately the system is stacked against us and the community. I find it ludicrous that one man from Bristol can affect the lives of so many.

We still have a legal battle pending with the Landlord and are seeking further advice at this time.  When we have to leave, we will be finding another venue in Henley and make it even bigger and better.

Thanks to the overwhelming number of people that have supported us thus far.”

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