New boathouse plans to accommodate the vintage collection

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A BOAT enthusiast has revised his plans to house a collection of vintage ships in Henley after his first attempt was turned down.

Businessman Adam Toop bought a shipyard near Wargrave Road in Hobbs of Henley over a year ago.

He wants to use the 0.5 hectare site to keep nearly 40 restored Thames boats in the building.

He requested permission to enlarge the ground floor and the first floor and to raise the roof.

But in December Wokingham Borough Council, the planning authority, rejected the application, saying the development would be “unsuitable” because of the yard’s position in the green belt.

Mr Toop, who is co-chairman of the Thames Traditional Boat Festival, held annually in Henley, said he was happy to make the necessary changes.

He said: “The site is equivalent to Chernobyl in terms of biodiversity – it has some pretty ugly farm buildings, gravel and old, deteriorating boats. It’s a mess. The Environment Agency wants biodiversity gains. We have a revised flood risk assessment which would tangibly increase flood storage capacity and therefore reduce the risk of flooding elsewhere.

“A preliminary ecological assessment and report on the proposed planting intention confirms that the revised scheme would result in significant improvement from a habitat and biodiversity perspective.

“As well as new plantings of hedges and trees, we proposed a lowered revetment behind the proposed moorings where new plantings of wetlands would be undertaken.

“We would also have plantings with species native to the upper Thames.”

The riverside elevation would be the same size and proportion to match the height and scale of the existing buildings on either side, but there would be less glazing, with timber cladding being used instead .

Mr Toop said: “While the workshop extension would slightly increase the footprint of the development on the site, if approved the total footprint of the buildings would be further reduced compared to the footprint of the buildings which existed before a fire in 2004.

“Furthermore, the combined volume of the proposed ground and first floor extensions, as previously proposed, would increase the total volume of the building by only 11.7%.

“All of the changes we’ve made respond point-by-point to feedback.

“If I were a developer wanting to build a massive country estate or development for massive financial gain, I would expect to have gone through multiple planning cycles, but this is driven by passion and improving a line of key view from the meadows and open yard.

“If it’s about ticking those last boxes, we’ve ticked them.

“I have quietly rounded up all the people around me who helped on the original work and remodeled the documents to reflect what was asked of us, so we are confidently entering the resubmission process knowing that we have met the questions that have been raised.

“We would have made the changes sooner had we known, but I have taken a calm, pragmatic and constructive stance and hope we are now in a position where this can be approved.”

When the borough council turned down the initial plans, it said the proposal would have a “greater and more detrimental” impact on the opening up of the green belt and lead to “prominent urbanization development”.

Remenham Parish Council encouraged Mr Toop to reapply after members complained they were ‘confused’ by the borough council’s decision.

As part of the initial request, more than 120 letters of support were sent to the borough council.

A public consultation has been launched on the new plans, which ends on April 28.

• What do you think? Write to: Letters, Henley StandardCaxton House, 1 Station Road, Henley or email [email protected]

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