The Government’s planning inspectorate has dismissed an appeal by Newlands Developments to build a 1.25 million ft2 logistics scheme on the approach to Basingstoke from Junction 7 of the M3 motorway.
The appeal was brought by the developer in May 2022 after the council refused the scheme twice in 12 months (as reported in Logistics Manager) 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 2021 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 was a well-supported campaign to save 80 oaks within the parish fronted by Sarah, The Duchess of York and 95,000 other signatories.
Following a scaling down of the scheme and promises to protect the oak trees the council’s planning officers’ recommended approval but were overrode by Basingstoke’s Development Control Committee, citing: ‘the detrimental impact of the proposed development on the character and visual amenity of the landscape’.
The revised scheme totalled 1.25 million ft2 and has lined up discount retailer Lidl as the new key occupier in a 630,000 ft2 warehouse rather than Amazon.
The developer argued that Lidl could not find any other suitable base in the region and that a requirement for such a centre on the M3 corridor was identified in 2014 and since then agents have been trying to find a plot. In addition, the developer argued the scheme would provide 1,400 jobs.
Government planning inspector Stephen Wilkinson wrote in his final report that the reason for refusal – concerning the amount of floorspace proposed for the site – is more intrinsic than the developer’s arguments.
“I conclude that the degree of harm caused by this scheme would be of such significance that it conflicts with policies of Basingstoke and Deane Local Plan 2016.
“Having considered all the evidence before me the proposal conflicts with the Development Plan when taken as a whole and there are no material considerations to outweigh this finding. For this reason, the appeal is dismissed.”