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Fears for future as coal merchant is forced out

Wellesbourne Airfield
Wellesbourne Airfield

In the planning application that has been submitted by agents acting on her behalf, it is argued that given the adverse consequences on the environment of burning coal, removing the business from the site should be considered.

It makes clear that the coal yard has provided a valuable service to Henley over the years, but says the current nursery building, on another site in the town where houses are being built, needs to be replaced as it has become unsuitable for purpose.

The documents also explain that the current nursery building is incurring unsustainable running costs and that it is not considered possible for it to achieve an outstanding Ofsted rating in the current building.

It says that maintaining a nursery service within a construction site is not viable and the option of relocating to the site in Bear Lane is the only realistic alternative.

Geoff Calcutt, who runs Calcutt & Sons, said: “This could spell the end for the business, my grandfather started it in 1937, we’ve been going for a long time.

“If we were to move out it would affect many people we supply with coal.

“A lot of people make out that coal is not used any more, but we deliver between 1,000 and 1,200 tonnes per year depending on the weather, for a lot of people it is their only form of heating.

Sarah Ewins, who works at the business, added: “This plan is very bad for us, we would massively struggle if this was given the go-ahead.

“We want to remain close to Henley but we have looked around the area and there are no other suitable sites available for us.

“Lots of people are against this plan, there is already a nursery in Henley and I don’t see why, if they want to rebuild it, they can’t just do it on the existing site.

“In the application they try to justify whether the business should continue to operate, which is very cruel and their assessment is not fair.”

David Jackson, chairman of Henley’s Neighbourhood Plan steering group, has written to residents urging them to oppose the plans.

He wrote: “Both the joint parish council and Neighbourhood Plan Steering Group have objected to the development, largely on the basis that residents do not wish to see development to the west of the railway line as it would create a dangerous planning precedent which might be relied upon by other developers wishing to put houses on land to the west of the railway line.”

A date has yet to be set for it to be considered by the district council’s planning committee.

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