Developers are seeking to extend the Oakhanger Business Park near Bordon – bringing 40 jobs to the area, but also a sharp increase in vehicle movements on local roads.
Purple Beaver Holdings Limited has applied to East Hampshire District Council (EHDC) for an extension to the employment hub on land to the rear of The Old Stables, Oakhanger Road.
Outline planning permission was granted for eight light industrial units in November 2021. The current application seeks to build five larger units.
In planning documents, Purple Beaver Holdings Limited has said that the proposed development will create jobs and related wages during construction, as well as enabling the retention and creation of approximately 40 jobs at the business park upon completion.
The company also stated that the expansion will support the rural economy by providing new and expanded employment opportunities and allowing existing businesses at the site to grow, preventing them from having to relocate elsewhere, potentially outside of East Hampshire.
But there are several objections to the proposals, including from all three tiers of local government.
Selborne Parish Council has objected because of an increase in parking spaces and traffic movements, as well as concerns about the proposed landscaping. The council objects to the increase in parking provision, stating that it is counter to the council's sustainability commitments and policies and would lead to increased traffic in the area. They also express concerns about the use of monoculture beech hedging, stating that it is inappropriate for the countryside setting and should be replaced with mixed hedging of native species.
EHDC's planning policy team raises concerns about the lack of a sustainability checklist or carbon reduction statement and the absence of solar panels on the southern-facing roofs of the proposed industrial units. They also note that the layout does not facilitate vehicular access to the business units and that the landscaping does not provide a robust buffer to soften the visual impact of the development, as well as raising concerns about the narrow pedestrian walkways and the potential for increased traffic on Oakhanger Road.
The EHDC landscape officer expresses concerns about the massing of the car parking, the lack of biodiversity net gain, and the proposed building facades.
While Hampshire County Council's highways team stated in its formal response: "This significant increase in parking [from 94 to 153 proposed spaces] gives rise to concerns regarding the potential vehicle trips which may be generated by the proposal compared with those previously agreed at the outline stage."
The Oakhanger Village Association objects to the development on the grounds that it would have an adverse impact on the visual amenity and rural character of the area, and that it would increase traffic congestion and road safety risks.
However, EHDC planning officers have recommended permission be granted for Purple Beaver Holdings Ltd's extension to Oakhanger Business Park because they consider that the deviations from the details approved at the outline stage "are on balance considered to be acceptable".
The officers state the proposed development would provide 2,820 sqm of Class E employment space, along with associated parking and landscaping, and the principle of this has already been established under outline consent.
While there are some differences in the details of the reserved matters relating to siting, external appearance, scale, and landscaping, the officers believe that these can be addressed through conditions and informatives attached to the approval.
The officers also recommend a number of measures to protect the appearance of the development and the surrounding area, as well as to ensure the provision of adequate facilities for parking, refuse and recycling, and landscaping.
Oakhanger Business Park is nestled in the East Hampshire countryside north of Oakhanger Road, adjacent to the Chocolate Frog gift shop and tea rooms south of Oakhanger village, approximately two miles from Bordon and 10 miles from Alton.
The application site is 2.2 acres in size and currently comprises open pasture, and is subject to several designations and constraints, including its proximity to protected areas and its location within an area of medium contamination risk and a major groundwater vulnerability zone.
The proposed development consists of five blocks with 17 units, which would provide 2,820m2 of Class E (light industrial) floor space at ground level and mezzanine floors in three units.
The buildings would have pitched roofs and be finished with red brick, metal cladding, and aluminium windows and doors.
The development would include 146 parking spaces, with eight designated for disabled use and 15 for electric vehicles.
There would also be six motorcycle parking spaces. The applicant has also proposed changes to the layout and design of the blocks, as well as a reduction in soft landscaping.
Purple Beaver Holdings Limited's application continues: "The proposed expansion ensures sustainable economic growth through maximising the potential use of the business park in a suitable site in close proximity to existing infrastructure which will, in turn, reduce the pressure of requiring development in other less suitable development sites by meeting business demands.
"The new buildings will also be designed to meet high energy-efficiency expectations".
The East Hampshire District Council planning committee will determine the application on Wednesday, January 11.