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Office conversion raises traffic concerns

A planning application to transform a Henley office complex into flats has raised traffic concerns for the town centre.

Ressance of Newbury has applied for permission to redevelop The Hub at Hallmark House, off Station Road, into 23 flats, mostly with two bedrooms.

But Station Road resident Sally Elsbury believes issues over where potential new residents would park their cars could cause ‘danger’.

She said: “Station Road is a major access road, not only to the train station but to the industrial units.

“Problems exist at the moment as cars have been parking along the route to avoid car park charges.

“Nothing has been done to rectify this and has caused a danger to traffic and people.”

The developer does not require full planning consent as converting offices into homes is ‘permitted development’ under a law introduced in 2013.

This means Ressance does not have to make payments towards improving infrastructure such as roads, schools or GP surgeries or to include a proportion of  ‘affordable’ homes.

Town, district and county councillor Stefan Gawrysiak described this as a “blow” to the joint Henley and Harpsden neighbourhood plan, which sets out where about 500 homes should be built to meet government targets.

SODC has set a target decision date of February 9.

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