Council and Environment Agency Investigating Concreting of Public Slipway

South Oxfordshire District Council (SODC) and the Environmental Agency’s enforcement teams are now investigating the concreting over of the public slipway on Thameside (known as the Friday Street slipway) according to Henley’s Town Clerk.

Speaking at the Town Council’s Full Council meeting last week, Sheridan Jacklin-Edward stated, “I’ve spoken with both SODC Planning Officer and the Legal & Finance Administrator who have both been investigating this.  The Planning Officer has confirmed that no planning permission was obtained and confirmed that the Environmental Agency has also not received an application for a flood risk activity and accommodations permits. Enforcement teams from the Planning and Environmental Agency were investigating this.

“On ownership and public rights issues, it was noted that the slipway was unregistered, and that a large body of evidence regarding historical use and ownership is being compiled.”  A final report will be brought back to the Council for their next meeting.

Councillor Ian Reissmann put forward the following motion:

“Henley Town Council (HTC) have serious concerns about the recent developments to concrete over the Friday Street slipway and the loss of this public amenity. HTC objected to Sorbon prior to the work being done but this had no affect in stopping the development.  HTC are in discussion with SODC expressing concern of the apparent breach of planning policy.  HTC are also in discussion with the Environmental Agency expressing concern of apparent loss of riverside amenity.  HTC offered to meet with Sorbon Estates to share and express views directly and to consider future steps.”

Councillor Stefan Gawrysiak, “Extremely concerned that this might drag on and on.  We need to keep to a timetable.”  He suggested getting the diggers in!

The following statement has been received from Sorbon Estates:

“Sorbon Estates’ maintenance and management teams have parked on this area whilst carrying out works to pontoons for many years and continue to use this as their main access and parking point.

In around 2012, we received complaints regarding unsightly, unpleasant-smelling silt and debris clogging the bottom of the ramp and were notified of two health and safety issues, of passers falling over the edge and slipping on the silt and bird mess. For health and safety reasons we therefore promptly installed concrete sand bags.

As river levels increased, we increased the number of sandbags. Our resident neighbours opposite drew it to our attention that this looked unsightly compared with other adjacent areas. We took on board what the residents views to create a more aesthetically pleasing look with tarmac, flowers and railings. These improvements were implemented over time by our maintenance team and are yet to be completed.

As these were viewed as improvement and maintenance works, we failed to consult with our planning consultants and the matter of obtaining consent was overlooked albeit with good intention. We now fully acknowledge that planning consent should have been sought, and will work with the council to submit an application in due course to ensure the safety of the general public as well as an attractive outlook for the residents and visitors at this important riverside location.”


  1. Wendy Tilbury says:

    The issue with the the slipway needs to be addressed ASAP. The longer it goes on the worse it will get. Did nobody notice whilst this was being filled in at the time. Get the diggers in and remove it.

  2. John Whiting says:

    Another case of planning rules being ridden over roughshod ie bridge lights, how has it gone so far and so quickly?
    First, it was the build-up sandbags to prevent flooding? then suddenly it’s filled to the brim with concrete. The slipway has been part of Henley’s history as an inland port and must be preserved.
    How was permission given for the pontoon access to be built across the slipway entrance thereby preventing any launching of anything? The only other slipway is at the bottom of Friday St and with the upsurge of interest in canoeing, kayaking and paddleboards another access point is a valuable asset for the Town.
    John Whiting, Henley Archæological and History Group

    • Nigel Hilton says:

      The beginning of the second paragraph is perhaps the most overlooked in this situation. If the pontoons are there legally then obviously the slipway is redundant as such – which would then make what Shanly has done logical and beneficial. If not they should also be removed and the slipway returned to its former use (a place for animals to drink as they are ushered through the town I understand.)


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