‘Not part of the vision for Basingstoke’ : residents object to 2.3m sq ft Amazon DC

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More than 250 people including the local MP, the Mayor of Basingstoke, numerous councillors as well as residents are objecting vociferously to a proposed 2.3 million sq ft DC that has been linked to Amazon.

Detailed plans have been submitted by Newlands Developments to Basingstoke Council for a £120 million distribution centre on a 41 acre plot on the site just off Junction 7 of the M3 motorway in Hampshire.

While there is no official notice that the site is for Amazon, an inopportune file name on a planning document submitted to the council has the name ‘Amazon ARS Basingstoke’, the detailed particulars of the proposed development, which are almost exactly those of other Amazon schemes and the use, as comparison, of  Bericote and Tritax’s Littlebrook Power Station project which confirmed Amazon as a tenant earlier this year, would seem to justify the speculation.

In June this year Logistics Manager reported that the developer had submitted outline proposals for a 3 million sq ft logistics scheme on the 111-acre site. This application is for the development of a 2.3 million sq ft DC on Plot 1.

The property will consist of a 625,000 sq ft footplate with three further mezzanine floors of 547,000 sq ft. The whole will total 2.327 million sq ft and will include 56,758 sq ft of offices.

The facility will be run 24/7 and be highly automated (65%). It will have 791 car and 158 HGV parking spaces as well as 64 dock level doors on two sides. It will have a 20m clear internal eaves.

The application faces a barrage of issues not least the fact the NHS is considering building a new hospital on land adjacent to the site which throws up associated highways concerns with regard to ‘blue light’ and HGV access to Junction 7.

However possibly the most damning approbation comes from local councillor Diane Taylor, who states in her objection letter: “A distribution centre is not part of the vision for the town of Basingstoke. Whilst progressive industry must, of course, be encouraged this proposal appears to be nothing more than a money-making exercise with little benefit to the Borough of Basingstoke & Deane and its residents.

“In the 1960s and 70s the decision-makers in Basingstoke made the mistake of jumping too quickly at proposals to expand the town and create a London-overspill district. The result was a mass of singularly unattractive housing estates and a concrete jungle to house hastily built shops and car parks in the centre of town.

“A secondary result was that Basingstoke gained a pejorative reputation that it has taken a long time to change. However, in the past two or three decades that has been achieved through careful long-term planning, turning the town into a place that is attractive to both residents and businesses – in particular high-tech sophisticated businesses.

“The proposal to allow a key piece of land at Junction 7 of the M3 to be used as a distribution centre – a vast mass of warehouses – would hark back to the early days of poor and hastily-made decisions. Quick, ill thought-through approval of this outline application, simply because it would “create jobs” would resurrect a reputation for our town that we have taken so long to eradicate.

“Such a key site could be designated for other uses that would be in keeping with our vision for Basingstoke. Junction 7 is one of the two “Welcome to Basingstoke” locations on the motorway. We should consider carefully if we want that welcome to be heralded by a vast unattractive mass of utilitarian warehouses and constant flow of HGVs.“

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