Hobbs of Henley’s planning application to provide an accessible walkway for people with mobility issues to get access to their moorings next to Red Lion Lawn on Thameside has been approved by SODC Planning Committee despite being recommended refusal by Henley Town Council and The Henley Society even after amended plans were submitted.
The approved proposal is for the construction of an accessible ramp extending from the pavement down to an existing area of pontoons in a V-shape. The existing finger pontoon will be upgraded as part of the proposed scheme and there will be a new entrance gate to be fitted into the existing cast iron railings located along Thameside. Hobbs of Henley have owned this land for 105 years.
The original plans submitted in September 2021 included a floating pontoon which extended out into the river. The pontoon was resized and there will be a loss of 1 finger pontoon in the amended plans submitted in March this year. Both the Environmental Agency and the Conservation Officer noted the amendments and were then happy to recommend approval of the application.
Henley Town Council’s Planning Committee recommend refusal on the grounds of being out of character with the area, having an adverse impact on the adjacent moorings and associated traffic. The Committee feel that a disabled ramp in this location is not necessary, there is already adequate provision nearby and there is no nearby parking available for potential users of the access arriving by car. In addition they said there would be visual impact of the development.
Jonathan Hobbs said, “We are delighted that common sense has prevailed on this application, having been refused by Henley Town Council Planning Committee three times. The Planning officer’s support reassured me that we were in planning terms doing the right thing, and The Environment Agency’s positive perspective from the river was supportive too, which begs the question- what did the Henley Town Council Planning Committee have against a privately funded accessible ramp for Henley Residents and Visitors with mobility issues to use to assist their access to the river?
“Because of their refusal, the application went to the SODC Planning Committee for their consideration, and I spoke at the meeting. They were baffled and bemused as to why this had not been supported by Henley Town in line with the Planning Officer’s recommendation for approval, one member even questioning whether they were missing pages of the report, because surely inclusive accessibility should be supported? Unsurprisingly the SODC Planning Committee were wholeheartedly in support of the application.”
“We are looking forward to building the ramp and working with our tourism partners such as The Relais and Hotel du Vin, in improving the safety of inclusive access to the river for their guests and Hobbs mooring customers.”
The work on the accessible mooring is due to start this winter.