Planning information

  • Ref: APP/Q3115/W/22/3313757
  • Project date: 10 May 2023

Premier Inn Appeal Rejected (23/5/23)

The Planning Inspectorate heard the Appeal by Premier Inn on 10th May 2023 and has now issued a formal rejection in their Appeal Decision of 23rd May 2023.

You can read the full Appeal Decision by tapping here

We fully support SODC’s reasons for refusing this planning application and wish to reiterate our objections of 20 July 2021 (document 9b) and 20 February 2022 (documents 191a, 191c & 191d). There is nothing in the appellants new documents which causes us to change our opinion but there are several developments since the planning permission refusal which add weight on the side of refusal. They are: 1. The adoption of the JHHNP. 2. Documents which have come to our attention on further examination as a result of this appeal such as the OCC report of 18 July 2022 in which Premier Inn purports that there is no need for this hotel. 3. Tik Tok’s confirmation that it is HoT’s historic character which attracts visitors which is the key to the towns continued economic success. This proposal damages HoT’s historic character.


Whilst the applicant has not changed their proposal other than representing it, we have a new neighbourhood plan. The original had policy TCE3 which stated “The railway station car park may be a suitable site for a hotel, …” The new made plan no longer has this policy and justifies this with The Baseline Report pp114/5 which concludes with “… that the policy is no longer required” which is the most recent statement on this subject. This states that there 154 rooms in Henley, 95 within 3 miles and a further 210 within 7 miles. Therefore 3.14 and final paragraph in 3.17 in the Statement of Case are superseded.

• Economy

The OCC response dated 18th July 2022 page 6 reports on a survey conducted by Premier Inn. There are two points in which Premier Inn show’s that there is no need for their hotel. First, when asked “what was the purpose of your stay” with the result “to stay at Premier Inn 0%”. Second, when asked “If the Premier Inn was not there, would you have” and the result “wouldn’t have travelled to the area if Premier Inn was not there 0%”. It maybe a double negative but it still came out with 0%. Premier Inn is proving that there is not only no need for their hotel but also that there will be no economic benefit from having this hotel in HoT. Therefore there is no benefit to LP HEN1 and both 3.17 first part and 4.27 first para are invalid. In a recent survey, Tik Tok published their list of the most desirable places to visit in the UK according to the number of viewings. Henley on Thames came 12th with 4.4million viewings. The Forum Heritage report looks at minor specifics but misses the big picture. Grossly oversize buildings will damage HoT’s historic character which will impact our tourist attractiveness and therefore our economy. LP ENV 6 & 8 are important to Henley as a whole. Even if the proposal could be justified on very specific criteria it fails on its impact on HoT as a whole. Therefore the proposal is in contravention of LP STRAT 1 and HEN 1 and paras 4.5 & 4.6 are invalid. 3.6 claims “…being a Which? Recommended provider for eight years in a row”. We regret to advise that as of 9th Jan 2023, the Premier Inn, whilst scoring highly in the latest Which? Review, lost its “Recommended Provider” status due to scoring only 2 out of 5 stars for value for money. Premier Inn claim a significant benefit is the long term employment of 30 full time jobs. Henley is in the enviable position of having negligible unemployment not least because our sons and daughters cannot afford to live here due to the lack of affordable housing.

• Mass Bulk

The development would be unneighbourly especially its 5-storey height. By virtue of its bulk and massing the planned building is out of character with Henley in general and specifically the nearby area and fails to respect the historic character of the adjacent Conservation Area. It impacts Wyndale Close, Meadow Road and Upton Close thereby contravening LP DES6 and invalidating 4.21. 5.7 concludes “… helps make development acceptable to communities”. 5.10 states “ … there is in principle support … at … a local level…”. The responses from our Society indicates that this proposal fails on both counts especially the latter which is quite untrue. The results from our members response in the 2nd half of March 2023 are at the end of this paper. The Alison Pike paper para 9 fig 43 shows an edge of town development as a precedent. This building is 3 storey not 5 as the applicants proposal.

• Architecture

The building appears to be a standard offering from the Premier Inn corporate design book and shows no appreciation of Henley’s history, architecture or height of existing buildings and therefore contravenes LP DES2 paras 1 & 2 and JHHNP SD3. Therefore para 4.20 is invalidated. The Alison Pike paper para 6 vi) figures should be compared with papers 90a, b, c & d. Figures 14 & 15 which clearly show how dominating the proposed building would be. The Pre App response of 18 Dec 2015 page 4 Design, states “Developing a hotel in this location provides an exciting opportunity for a high quality, contemporary, landmark building that signals to visitors arriving by rail the QUALITY of the town”. This proposal fails in this objective therefore contravening LP ENV 6 & 8 and invalidating para 4.12 & 4.13. 6.7 only refers to the Urban Design Officer’s report of 14 Jul 2021. The most recent report of 11 Mar 2022 (actually dated 11 Mar 21) states in conclusion “I cannot support this application…” and continues “… does not demonstrate any overcoming of these issues”, since when there have been no material changes to the proposal. This last report and not earlier reports must prevail.

• Location

It is at the entrance to our rail station. This inconveniences not only our commuters who will have to park much further from the entrance but also to the planned residences of The Hub who have 26 parking spaces where the hotel is planned. Planning Application P21/S2344/N1A ( Alison Pike para 10 iv) purports that “Natural surveillance … will decrease the fear of crime, especially at night”. All of the suggestions in this paragraph are unlikely, eg no one is going to stand in the hotel stairwell or at their bedroom window watching over this very narrow pathway assuming they can see in the dark. The poor spatial environment highlighted in the pre app of 4 Oct 2019 page 8 pictures on that page is still extant. Whilst evidence would help with any prosecutions, our objective has to be to site buildings to remove any contributory factors to crime especially where it involves physical harm. This is a reason that the hotel location is inappropriately located. 6.10 states “is unclear to the appellant … appropriate spatial setting…”. This is another instance of the applicant failing to listen.

• Parking

This is an issue as it is the only spare parking capacity in Henley where we have regular instances of our existing 4 car parks being full in addition to having many new developments in the previous and latest version of the JHHNP. In 2021 we determined that there were 973 off street parking places in Henley for the then population of around 11,500 plus all the inhabitants of surrounding villages, hamlets and settlements who might consider Henley to be their shopping destination of choice. This development does not address the parking spaces required by Premier Inn for its staff who will come from out of town (see economy above) and for its guests. The parking space size does not comply with OCC’s own requirements at stated in their pre app response of 25th September 2019 page 4 notwithstanding OCC’s response of 3rd August 2021. 2.4 &3.5 state that “… both Network Rail and Great Western Railway are aware of and in support of this application …”. The only evidence in the documentation is an unsigned letter from Network Rail Group Property Development of 10th Dec 2020 (Transport Assessment Ap H) which inter alia claims that as a result of this development, further land will be made available which will facilitate a net increase in parking across the Henley Branch Line. First, Goring and Streatley is not on the Henley Branch line and extra parking spaces at Twyford and Wargrave does not help the HoT parking issue. Therefore 7.4is invalid.

• Conclusion

The following benefits claimed by the appellant are therefore either unproven or invalid: o The provision of new visitor accommodation o Additional net spend within the local community through an increase in staying visitors o The provision of additional parking spaces at the station car park and improvements to Network Rail’s parking provision at Twyford, Goring Streatley and Wargrave stations which will improve existing rail facilities for users o The opportunity to improve the public realm and landscape/character of an edge of town centre site – including through improvements to biodiversity and the visual attractiveness of the site o A proposal which protects designated heritage assets within the town o A well-designed proposal that responds positively to the local character and vernacular of the area. For the above reasons, the inspector is respectfully requested to refuse the appeal. • Justification for the above representation. In March 2023 in preparing our response we sought to update the input from our 608 members from their original views of January 2021. We emailed twice and sent press releases to both the local weekly newspaper, The Henley Standard and to the daily online Henley Herald. We suggested three options and welcomed additional options and comments that members might like considered.