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Decision soon on business park

LONG-running plans to turn a former nightclub site into a business park could finally get the green light this week.

Hart councillors are being advised to back the office scheme for the former Shotts nightclub site in Bourley Road, Church Crookham, when they meet on October 31.

The council was due to make a decision on the office plan last month, but after a series of motions were lost councillors sent the application back to the development control com-mittee.

Brian Tydeman, who leases the site from Hart Council, had the former nightclub demolished last August following complaints from residents who branded the building an eyesore and death trap.

It had been standing as a burnt-out shell since it was gutted in a £1.8million arson attack on February 24, 2000.

The culprits are still at large, despite a £40,000 reward for information leading to their arrest and conviction.

Plans were drawn up last year to replace the nightclub with a day nursery and 24-space car park.

But the applicant withdrew the planning application over fears that the building would be under the Farnborough Airfield flight path.

The outline plans now on the drawing board include a series of two-storey business units and 92 parking spaces.

The application already has the backing of Crondall Parish Council and Hart councillors on the Fleet and Church Crookham Planning Advisory Group.

But Fleet and Crookham Civic Society said the car parking on the site was "unrealistic" and called for the number of offices to be cut.

Hart's development control committee is recommending full council approve the scheme, provided new conditions are added covering restrictions on floor space and the allocation of at least 30% of the development for light industry in order to encourage new businesses.

Hart Council cabinet and development control com-mittee member Cllr Carol Leversha said she was in favour of small industrial units being built on the site.

"There is already a surplus of office space but a deficit of small industrial units in the district," she said.

"The Shotts site is perfect for a light industrial use and we should be looking after the start-up businesses."

Hart planning chief Ron Percival is urging members to approve the plan at the full council meeting on October 31.

"The county planning officer has stated that he would welcome small light industrial units to assist the development of the local economy," states Mr Percival in his report to councillors.

"Hollis Hockey (chartered surveyors and commercial property consultants) have identified a demand for small office units.

"Therefore it would be beneficial to try and achieve a balance of provision on this site and ensure the provision of small units.

"It should also be borne in mind that the Peter Driver Playing Field (next to the Shotts site) is unlikely to come forward for industrial development given its location directly under the public safety zone for Farnborough Airport."

Members of the public can listen to the debate, which starts in the council chamber of the civic offices in Harlington Way, Fleet, at 7pm.

But even if councillors back the office scheme the application could still get called in by the Government Office for the South-East for a final decision as it is a departure from Hart's local plan.


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