For the second time in less than a year, Basingstoke Council has refused Newlands Property Developments planning for a warehouse on land at the town’s gateway just off Junction 7 of the M3 motorway despite planning officers’ recommendation for approval.
The controversial scheme originally secured planning approval with Amazon as an occupier for a 2 million ft2 plus warehouse as well as three further warehouses units, but the council revoked the permission in November last year following a legal challenge by Dummer Parish Council. It was done on the grounds that it would destroy local biodiversity, and that there was “no overriding public need”.
In addition to the legal threat from the parish council there has been a well supported campaign to save 80 oaks within the parish supported by Sarah, The Duchess of York and 95,000 other signatories.
This time the Development Control Committee over-rode planning officers’ recommendations citing ‘the detrimental impact of the proposed development on the character and visual amenity of the landscape’.
The scheme put forward last week looked to protect the oak trees, was physically much smaller at 1.25 million ft2 and had lined up discount retailer Lidl as the new key occupier in a 630,000ft2 warehouse rather than Amazon.
The chairman of the local campaign group Clean Air Green Environment (CAGE) Ian Robertson said that the decision was ‘the best for the people of Basngstoke’ and that it ‘wasn’t us versus them’.
Campaigners had noted that while the scheme had been reduced significantly, the reduction was only in internal space not the overall footprint or height of the buildings. Thus the visual impact would be the same.
Campaigners noted strongly that the developers in their view did not ‘give a damn’ about the town or its people and were ‘only in it for the money’.
In a statement CAGE said: “[We] and the local parish council hope that the developers, Newlands, will now pursue their interests on another more suitable site.”