The vacant former offices and warehouse could become homes if planning permission is granted
A key development site in Aldershot town centre could soon become a ‘naff’ block of 58 new flats under plans submitted to Rushmoor Borough Council earlier this year.
Proposals were submitted in May to demolish the existing buildings on the site to the north of Birchett Road, sandwiched between Frederick Street and Heathland Street, and replace them with 19 one-bedroom, 30 two-bedroom, eight three-bedroom and one four-bedroom flats. Parking for 40 cars and 70 bicycles was also included in the plans.
The council’s development control committee was due to consider the proposals on August 14 but the
decision has been deferred due to legal discussions on what contributions the developer will make to the community as part of the application.
The site, which contains empty offices and a warehouse, formerly home to computing company Datronic and a printing works, has long been vacant and there was a positive reaction from some to the signs of activity.
However, concerns were also raised over how the horseshoe-shaped five-storey block of flats would fit in with the surrounding architecture.
Councillor Mike Roberts and the Aldershot Civic Society objected to the scheme proposed by property investment company, J Minsky & Sons.
Cllr Roberts said the designs were lacking originality and thought, adding: “We are looking to improve design and noting that Aldershot has one of the highest levels of Victorian architecture in any town in the South East.
“To have produced such a naff set of designs, poor concepts and something with a flat roof, which does not fit into those design principles cannot be supported or, indeed, defended.”
Society members also argued the building would have a negative impact on the Victorian-style housing in Victoria Road.
A statement from the group said: “We are not looking for anything particularly identical, but as a block facing four ways we would like it to be distinctive in its own right.”
The applicant described the plans as meeting the objective of the council to develop the site while providing a number of housing options, some affordable.
The area is described as a key opportunity site within the historic core of the town centre.
Included in the proposals is also a pledge to improve the pavement and provide a landscape scheme for Birchett Road, and contribute £133,615 towards transport schemes.
There were no objections to the plans by any of the bodies consulted by the council.
A report stated the frontage of the building facing Birchett Road would ‘engage with the street’, and that the flats would provide ‘visual interest’ to the street scene.
It stated the building would have no adverse impact on neighbours or the Grade II-listed Culdrose House, situated in Frederick Street.
The number of affordable flats has been challenged by council officers who found that, in fact, only six could be classed as such, as opposed to 19 as stated in the application.
Despite the development not meeting the required 35% affordable housing level, however, this was not said to be enough to halt the plans.