NOVEMBER 2021 Executive Committee Briefing to Members

The October talk, given by Simon Spearing, newly appointed Manager of the Kenton Theatre  was an interesting talk attended by 55 Members and Guests who enjoyed wine and nibbles after the talk generously sponsored by Tesco Henley.

An update on our projects

  • the contract for the refurbishment of the Greys Road Car Park Lavatories has been placed by SODC and we await a start date. Sadly there are material shortages in the building industry and we might need to be patient.
  • HTC have placed the order for the refurbishment of the Phillimore Fountain which we are part-financing. We await a start date from the Contractor.
  • The Solar Compactor Bin trial, which we are financing is in hand but again a start date awaited from HTC.

Our Membership growth continues and this month we welcome Gillian Busby, Prof Simon and Dr Rebecca Chandler-Wilde, Chris Howard, Catherine Haveron and Rob Hayward. This brings our Membership total to 572.

Events -Your support for our two ‘Clements’ walks and the Alan Pontin and Simon Spearing talks encourages us to arrange further events and here are three dates for your diary. We have more plans in the pipeline and these will be confirmed in due course.

Wednesday 2nd March 2022

The Queens Swan Marker, David Barber will give an illustrated talk about the health of our swan population and what we can do to to help.

Venue and ticket price details to be announced as soon as possible

Tuesday 12th April 2022

Trip to view the Commandants Parade at Sandhurst

Full details in due course

Sunday 7th August 2022

'Music on the Lawn'

Our 60th Anniversary Main Event and full details are on the web site.





The Society was represented at the Henley Show on September 11th and the Committee are grateful to the many members who popped by to say ‘hello’. We also had visits from our Member of Parliament John Howell and Henley’s Mayor Councillor Sarah Miller. We enrolled seven new members on the day, received lots of complimentary comments, and many of the visitors to the stand took away our Membership application forms.

Just a reminder that the October talk (Simon Spearing on the Kenton Theatre) takes place on the Tuesday 19th at Christ Church Centre, Reading Road at 7:30pm – tickets are available by calling 07860 145982.  The Executive Committee hope that you will join them for a glass of wine (sponsored by Tesco Henley) after the talk.

Our web site ( has been updated to carry all latest news and   should be your first port of call for what is going on within the Society.

Similarly, our Facebook presence (@henleysociety) is updated regularly with our latest news and is still proving to be the source of new member enquiries

The Alan Pontin talk on September 23rd ‘Henley’s need for new housing and how it can be sympathetically achieved’ was well received by about 60 member and guest viewers via Zoom. Thanks to Alan for giving his time to give us his thoughts on planning matters in Henley and South Oxfordshire.

This past month we have welcomed eight new members – Ann Downing, Sam Goumal, Lynne Hickey, Andrew & Elly Younie, Chris and Alex Melton and Sarah Ries-Coward and total membership now stands at 566.


The Revised and Updated Neighbourhood Plan, 2022

David Whitehead, the Society’s Chairman of Planning Sub Committee says -Now that a draft of the revised and updated Neighbourhood Plan, 2022, is out for public consultation (see website, we thought it would be useful to provide some background to the developments planned for Henley and Harpsden.

The numbers game


The revised NP, 2022, updates the policies of the existing NP which was adopted in 2016 and which includes plans to provide 500 new homes by 2027.   While building on some of the designated sites has been completed or is underway, other sites have not yet been started.  These unstarted sites, with the number of homes allocated, are:  Chilterns End (27), land west of Fairmile (60), Empstead Works (42), 357 Reading Road (30), Henley Youth Club (23) and Gillotts School Sports Field (50).   This total of 232 scheduled but unstarted homes is therefore carried over to the revised Plan at the same, or potentially alternative, sites.


In addition, there are various other sites, not scheduled for housing in the 2016 NP, that have been given approval within the last few years and on which construction has not yet started. These include: Thames Farm (95), the Wyevale site (40), Hallmark House (23), the Smith Centre (73), Highlands Farm additional to the NP (28) and 18 Duke Street (5).  The total in this category is a minimum of 244.


Thus, the number of homes awaiting construction and that could be started at almost any time (subject to following appropriate procedures) is at least 232 + 244 = 476, more if the unfinished allocation at Highlands Farm is included.


The South Oxfordshire Local Plan, 2011 - 2035, adopted in December 2020, specifies a further allocation to Henley, to be built between April 2020 and 2035, of 115, in addition to the 500 allocated in the first NP.  According to SODC, the 476 already-approved homes referred to above have been considered in setting the target of 115.  However, they also state that homes constructed on so-called ‘windfall’ sites (mostly infill building in existing gardens) plus those resulting from permitted development (mainly conversions of commercial or office premises), that have been approved since April 2020 can be offset against the 115.  Our records show that, as of 21 September 2021, 56 such homes have been granted permission, which reduces the number required to meet SODC’s allocation to 59. (In addition plans for 56 homes are currently under consideration.)


Now we come to the details of the Revised NP.  As mentioned, sites outstanding from the 2016 NP are included.  The only completely new sites are the extension to Highlands Farm (110) and the Chiltern Centre (3), i.e., a total of 113 against a need of 59, a surplus of 54.  At the time that the 2016 NP was under discussion, Gillotts Sports Field (50) was the least popular site to be included and, again, its inclusion in the draft of the revised NP has resulted in opposition.  If you think that it should be removed from the plan as being unnecessary to meet the required numbers, now is your opportunity to say so.  On the other hand, you may object to the inclusion of the Highlands Farm extension, a greenfield site but, to be taken seriously, you will have to propose the inclusion of about 50-60 homes elsewhere, either on new sites or by increased housing density on other sites. Thirdly, you may consider that the 615 (500 + 115) homes allocated for Henley by the existing 2016 and revised NP are insufficient for the town’s needs and, if so, you should take this opportunity to say so.

The conundrum of ‘Affordable’ Homes

In responses to planning applications and various consultations, the Society has always supported proposals to increase the amount of ‘social housing’ in Henley (eg. The Society’s Nov 2017 response to DOSC’s Local Plan consultation.) Social housing is the type provided by SOHA, which is subsidised and where ‘affordability’ is retained through different occupancies.  Our emphasis on social housing is due to the minimum requirement for a home to meet the government definition of ‘affordable’ being so low.  It is merely that its price or rental should be less than 80% of the market rate. And the provision of ‘affordable’ homes meeting these minimum requirements will do little to assist either workers on a low wage, or most first-time buyers in Henley.  So long as Henley is more attractive as a place to live compared with other towns and cities, and so long as we have a free-market rather than a commandeconomy, it is difficult to see how the price differential with other towns could be eliminated.

If you think that Henley’s most pressing housing need is for more social housing and that this could be achieved by stipulating that a higher proportion of the ‘affordable’ allocation should be social housing, then do say so.  Or if you think that more homes in total should be built and that 35% of the 40% of the total number (as suggested in the revised NP) provides a solution, do say so.                                                  



Executive Committee Briefing- September 2021

The Michael Redley walking tour of the Charles Clements buildings in Henley quickly sold out and a full house of 24 members led in two groups by Michael and his son, Will, enjoyed an instructive, interesting afternoon finishing with tea and cake in the Watercolour Café. A second walk, on September 7th, is being organised for those who were on the wait list for the first one, and there are still a few places left if you are interested in Henley’s history. Please call 07860 145982 to reserve a place.


Simon Spearing Talk Tuesday 19th October 2021 at 7.30pm

The Kenton Theatre, the past, the present, the future and the Ghost

Simon is the recently appointed General Manager of the Kenton Theatre and his talk will include his early thoughts on the future direction of the 4th oldest working theatre in the country. The talk will take place in the Pither Room, Christchurch Centre, Reading Road at 7.30pm and will last about 45 minutes plus any questions. The Executive Committee hope that you will join them for a glass of wine after the talk.

Tickets priced at £6. 50 per person can be obtained via Eventbrite. If you experience difficulty please order your tickets by calling 07860145982.

Our drive for new members is continuing to be successful and this month we welcome Christine Wright, Kay Robertson, Anthea Hoskins, Sue Brosnan, our 550th Member Dianne Sharp, Domenic Bertelli, Muriel Quinsac, Nick and Sue Sharp and June Wood to the Society. Our membership is now at a record level of 555.


The tree planting at Sheephouse Lane/Reading Road has proved very popular with members and we now have seven of the eight trees sponsored. We have remaining one Linden and if you would like to attach your name, or that of a loved one, to the tree, then please contact Catherine Notaras on or 07474 095807


The Henley Agricultural Show takes place on Saturday 11th September and the Society is taking a stand, which will be manned from 9am – 4pm. If you are visiting the show please stop by and say ‘hello’.


A date for your diary - On Wednesday 2nd March 2022 an illustrated talk will be given by The Queens Swan Marker, David Barber. Full details, venue and ticket prices will be announced shortly.


Spotlight on our Deputy Chairman -Julian Brookes

Julian has been a Henley on Thames resident for over 20 years since he returned to the UK from living in Hong Kong in the mid-90s. He is married with a son and a daughter and two grandchildren. A pupil of the Newcastle upon Tyne Royal Grammar School, he is a graduate electrical engineer, holds a post graduate diploma in nuclear technology and has been a member of the Institution of Engineering and Technology since 1980. After serving as an engineer officer in both nuclear and conventional submarines he has held international sales, marketing and general management positions covering the markets of Europe, North America and for the last 30 years, East Asia. Recent activities included the introduction of UK and US based wireless technology companies to the markets of Northeast Asia. He became involved in local politics on becoming aware of the JHHNP at the end of 2013. He was a Henley Town Councillor 2015-19, Deputy Mayor 2015/16, and Mayor 2016/17. He is a trustee of our Henley YMCA having led the £570,000 fund raising to enable the trustees to take full control of the future of our local YMCA and is a member of our Bell Surgery PPG (Patients Participation Group). He has been leading the Henley Society’s response to the recent MHCLG Planning White Papers.



Executive Briefing to Members – August 2021

The Planning Application for the Premier Inn hotel at the station was before Henley Town Council on 13th July and our Deputy Chairman, Julian Brookes, spoke on behalf of the Society against the proposal, reflecting the views of our members February survey on the matter. We had conveyed the results of the survey to individual planning committee Councillors ahead of their meeting, as we will do to SODC Planning Committee Councillors before the application is debated by them shortly. HTC voted unanimously, and most robustly, against the application and asked for it to be ‘called in’ which means that the proposal will be decided by Planning Councillors, rather than Officers. The Executive Committee would like to thank those of our many Members who have put their own thoughts on the application onto the SODC Planning portal.

And now, some dates for your diary. Alan Pontin, a Member of the Society, whose company is developing Highlands Park, will address Members on Thursday September 23rd in a talk entitled ‘Henley’s need for more housing, and how that can be sympathetically achieved’. We are aware that this talk could be emotive and give rise to a lot of questions and you are invited to attend. We hope to hold the talk face-to-face but if Covid determines otherwise we will revert to Zoom. Further details in due course- but please reserve the date.

It is hoped that our October talk will be given by the new Manager of the Kenton Theatre, Simon Spearing. A date is awaited from Simon and full details will be announced, both on our website, and through the medium of this Briefing in due course.

April 12th, 2022, will see us visit the Sandhurst Commandants Parade which is a full dress rehearsal for the Sovereign’s Parade which takes place some days later. This is a colourful musical event not to be missed. Full details nearer the time.

Much further off is Sunday 7th August 2022 when we will be holding a ‘Music on the Lawn’ Event at Remenham Club to mark the 60th Anniversary of the Society. Full details of this celebration are on the website – and tickets will go on sale to Members and their guests on April 1st next year. The music will be Beatles themed since that group celebrate the 60th anniversary of the release of their first record release in 2022 also.

We now have six of the eight trees at Sheephouse Lane sponsored and at £200 each have two remaining, a Field Maple and a Linden. Please let us know if you would like to have your name, or that of a loved one, commemorated by sponsoring a tree.

Our concerns re the Taylor Woodrow plans for disposing of wastewater away from their proposed development at Thames Farm were sent to SODC recently. We have objected on the grounds of the threat to the safety of our drinking water brought about by plans to use grouting to the Grade 1 Aquifier below the site, and to the routing which brings about an increased threat of flooding in the area around Jubilee Park and the HTC football and hockey pitches.

We are pleased to report that the Festival Thames Traditional Boat Festival will be going ahead this year, at the end of August, Friday 27th to Sunday 29th.  All the usual activities are scheduled including a chance to see the Dunkirk little ships, take boat trips and relax with refreshments from the various pop-up venues.  Go to the website for more details and to book tickets early and save money.  

Members should be aware that a Planning Application for eight apartments with associated parking on woodland at Parkside/Pack and Prime Lane, refused in September 2020, has been appealed by the owner. It will be remembered that the Society publicised the original application and, partly through our social media presence, over 300 residents were persuaded to add comments, the vast majority in objection, to the SODC Planning portal. This proposal was similar to two previous applications, in 2016 and in 2018, both turned down, and is on a site protected by 2006 legislation as a Priority Wildlife habitat. If the appeal is successful 52 trees, mostly with Tree Preservation orders, will need to be felled, thus partially destroying the heart of an important wildlife corridor on the edge of town.  The Planning Appeal reference is P20/S2002/FUL and Members are urged to make their feelings known to the Appeal Inspector as a matter of urgency.

To comment, go to the PINS (Planning Inspectorate) site, Planning Inspectorate

When you open the url, on the right side “Search for a Case” enter the number 3268954.

Top right with green background “make representation”

Middle right with green background “save and continue”

Continue as an interested party.