We are now keen to begin actively marketing the warehouse, offices and hotel and feel that this strategically located site has a great deal to offer occupiers.
The decision to let the 1.5 million sq ft mixed-use scheme get the go-ahead came only weeks after the developer announced it no longer had an exclusive agreement with retailer Tesco to occupy a proposed mega shed on the site. Goodman’s proposal for the 125-acre former Andover Airfield still includes a single warehouse building along with offices and a hotel.
In addition to the resolution to grant detailed consent on Unit 4 (totalling 863,000 sq ft) and the associated infrastructure, it has also secured outline consent on a 250,000 sq ft warehouse, a further 133,500 sq ft of warehousing, a hotel, community building and offices.
The site is directly adjacent to the A303 and is accessed via Hundred Acre Interchange (the A303 junction), which will benefit from a £4.9 million investment from Goodman, who will also be contributing a further £2 million towards local transport. The planning application was approved by Test Valley Borough Council’s Planning Control Committee at a meeting on Monday 1st December 2008. Jason Harris of Goodman says: “We are now keen to begin actively marketing the warehouse, offices and hotel and feel that this strategically located site has a great deal to offer occupiers.”
A spokesperson said the decision to terminate the exclusive Tesco contract demonstrated Goodman’s commitment to the routeing agreement and restrictions which are considered necessary by Test Valley Borough Council to protect local roads.
“Any prospective tenant that seeks to come to our site will still have the opportunity to take up occupation if they are willing to comply with the planning conditions and legally binding S106 agreement linked to a planning consent.”
So what brought about the change? Putting it bluntly, the need for jobs and an encroaching recession. The local newspaper “The Andover Advertiser” reported councillors stating that in current conditions they would have been foolish to turn it down. Looking at other competition for the site, Toby Green of Savills says: “At present nothing else seems to be going through. And there are no other big shed developments in the Andover area.”
However, that may all start to change. Close by, in Newbury, it seems councillors have also had a change of heart. Recently Hampshire County Council and Basingstoke & Deane Council withdrew their objections to ProLogis’ proposals to build a warehouse at the New Greenham Common after the developer increased its contribution for infrastructure improvements from more than £1.6 million to £1.9 million. The scheme is subject to a public inquiry.
Meanwhile the talk at the Pyestock Inquiry where PRUPIM and Astral are promoting the controversial 1.25 million sq ft development of Hartland Park, has focused on its strategic location, that it has already been earmarked for warehouse use.
Steven Moss of PRUPIM, says: “There is a strong need for distribution facilities within the south east, where the country’s largest consumer market is located. The proposals will clean up this contaminated site and bring it back into more productive use. It is in line with the council’s Local Plan which proposes that the site remains used for employment purposes.”
It seems a strong argument for the developers who originally submitted plans in 2005 for 1.5 million sq ft of distribution warehousing on the 120-acre Pyestock North site at Junction 4 of the M3 motorway, which it acquired from QuinetQ for a price in the region of £50 million in 2004.
Carefully observing these inquiries will be Graftongate and Kenmore, whose plans for a 65-acre plot at Solstice Park near Salisbury, which could accommodate up to 1.5 million sq ft of space and provide 1,000 jobs, was turned down by Salisbury District Council’s planning and regulatory committee by a margin of five to four only a month after being given the go-ahead by the council’s northern area committee.
There is one thing that many opposition groups are clinging to – that the recession, which acted as the turning point in the decisions to give the go-ahead to the developers, may actually prevent them from ever going ahead with the schemes. Indeed vocal anti-warehouse development MP Sir George Young, says on his web site that he remains to be convinced that this scheme will go ahead. “Tough economic conditions and onerous planning restrictions could still halt its arrival.
“It is clear that, as of now, Goodman has no tenant. Without a tenant, will it invest £120 million in a speculative development, as the country moves into recession? Where will the funding come from? And will a tenant accept the restrictions that DCC has imposed?”