GROUND has broken on a multi-million pound retail and dining development in Henley town centre despite objections by town councillors.
Initial works have started for Gardiner Place which, according to developers Catalyst Capital, will add to the ‘already strong’ retail offer.
It will provide 14 apartments as well as nine retail units and a restaurant.
But town councillor Ian Reissman said the development ‘isn’t what Henley needs’.
Speaking to the paper last week, he said: “We already are facing a lack of affordable housing. The small amount that the Henley area is getting is nowhere near what it needs.”
He said there is already an over-supply in retail stores and the shops that are there will be put under pressure as a result of the new units.
But the developers say the site will offer ‘an attractive living and leisure offer’.
Ilan Goldman, director at Catalyst Capital, said: “Gardiner Place will transform the current site and the scheme will reflect the character of the town.
“We hope it will also increase economic and social opportunities and make the town even more of a desirable area to live, shop and eat.”
The scheme is set to provide a key link between Market Place, Waitrose and the Kings Road car park and will be the town’s only fully pedestrianised shopping street.
The name of the development was inspired by Captain Gardiner, who first had the idea that Henley-on-Thames should hold an annual regatta.
Gardiner Place town manager Helen Barnett said: “Gardiner Place will provide good quality additional retail, leisure and housing space for the town.
“We are all working closely to make sure that the disruption to Henley’s visitors is kept to a minimum during the building work.”
The Kings Road car park will be temporarily changed during the development and there will be alternative pedestrian routes to the car park from Market Place.
Also as part of the works, Market Place Mews will be temporarily closed off to the public from October with other routes through to the Kings Road car park and Waitrose clearly being displayed.