No appeal for loss of LA Fitness

THE decision to allow the site of the former LA Fitness gym in Henley to be turned into an 80-bed care home will not be scrutinised by the Government.

Planning minister Gavin Barwell has refused a request by opponents for it to be “called in” and examined by a planning inspector.

The Keep Henley Active pressure group, which believes the site in Newtown Road should remain a leisure facility, said South Oxfordshire District Council should not have awarded planning permission last month as the land wasn’t earmarked for housing in the Henley and Harpsden joint neighbourhood plan.

They said the closure of the gym and swimming pool had put heavy pressure on Henley leisure centre, which now has the town’s only pool.

Neighbouring residents argued that the plans by Essex developer Henthames would cause congestion on Mill Lane, where the main entrance will be.

But Mr Barwell said the call-in procedure could only be used “very selectively” and he was satisfied that the LA Fitness decision should have been taken locally.

He said the Government “remained committed to giving more power to councils and communities to make their own decisions on planning issues”.

It is the second time this year that the Department for Communities and Local Government has declined to call in a planning decision involving a development in Henley.