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Go-karting track approved as local plan is ignored

Councillors defy advice to refuse indoor track in Farnborough to bring building back into use

TeamSport karting track at Tower Bridge Business Park

Racers in Farnborough will soon have a karting facility on their doorstep after councillors went against a recommendation to reject the plans for an indoor track.

Members of Rushmoor Borough Council's development management committee met on Wednesday night to discuss plans from for an indoor track in an empty warehouse in Invincible Road.

They were advised to turn them down because the council's local plan policies designate the building as a key employment site, which should be preserved to accommodate industrial growth in Rushmoor.

However, with the final say as voting members of the committee, the councillors ignored the recommendation and approved the go-karting track, but only temporarily.

An unusual approval was given specifically to the applicant, TeamSport, after Councillor Alan Chainey suggested the company was allowed to go ahead with the plans but with the understanding that if it vacated the building in the future it would be marketed for industrial use again.

The decision is likely to interest KFC and Hobbycraft, who have had respective applications to open in Aldershot and Farnborough turned down this year due to local plan policies.

This was the second month in a row the go-karting proposals had been brought to committee for a decision and, having expressed their support for them, as well as their frustration with the council's policies, fellow members voted through the amended plan.

TeamSport responded to the request from members to return with more evidence about the lack of interest in the site and the unsuitability of others in the area for go-karting.

The site in Invincible Road, Farnborough, was marketed for three years without success

Speaking at the meeting, Dominic Gaynor, owner of TeamSport said there had been one viewing of the building in the last three years of it being marketing and that his company had looked at a total of 1.9 million square feet of alternative space to no avail.

They were also told that the intended use would potentially employ many more than the 38 people TeamSport have pledged to create jobs for.

However, Mr Gaynor said: "Regarding KFC and Hobbycraft, I would like to point out ours is not a town centre use. Go-karting requires a certain size of building. Theirs does not.

"We've done everything that's been asked of us and tried to engage with officers."

Until recently, TeamSport had a track open in Lyon Way, Frimley, but the building was closed to be redeveloped.

Cllr Don Cappleman said he was concerned no one else would take on the building and that the go-karting track was a good compromise, arguing that councillors were facing a choice between employment or no employment; use or no use.

"We've got to be pragmatic and look at the overall concern," he said. "What are we going to do? Let it rot?"

Cllr Bruce Thomas added: "My old mum used to say a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. In this case it's 38 in the hand and none in the bush."

Once final details regarding the conditional approval are agreed, work can begin on the redevelopment of the building.

 

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