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More debate over scheme

LONG-running plans to turn a former nightclub site into a business park have been put back again for even more debate.

Hart Council was due to make a final decision on the office scheme for the former Shotts nightclub site in Bourley Road, Church Crookham, last week.

But after a series of motions were lost, councillors sent the application back to the development control committee.

That committee will probably not discuss the plan until next month and any decision would then still need to be ratified by full council.

But the application could still get ‘called in' by the Government Office for the South-East as it is a departure from Hart's Local Plan.

Hart's development control committee backed the office scheme last month, after putting off making a decision in July so it could consider a new government circular on development in Public Safety Zones close to airports.

The Shotts site is under the flight path of Farnborough Airfield.

Full council was expected to ratify the committee's decision but, after a thorough debate, a motion to grant planning permission was lost by 11 votes to 12.

After more debate, a motion was proposed to refuse permission for a number of reasons.

These included the fact that there was not a need for the proposed commercial development, the scheme went against policies in Hart's Local Plan and Hampshire County Council's Structure Plan, and the siting, size and prominence of the proposed buildings would harm the nearby green gap.

But that motion was lost by 11 votes to 12.

Another motion to grant planning permission was then lost by the same amount of votes before the council resolved to send the application back to the development control committee.

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 which are now on the drawing board include nine two-storey business units totalling 2,750sq metres and 92 parking spaces.

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

However, Fleet and Crookham Civic Society said car parking on the site was "unrealistic" and called for the number of office units to be cut from nine to five or six.

Hart Council cabinet and development control committee member Carol Leversha said she would continue to push for small industrial units to be built on the site.

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

"We gave up the Martin Lines site almost next door to this site to Nokia because the officers said it was too big for light industrial units.

"Murrel Green business park near Hook should have been light industrial units but that's nearly all office space as well.

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

Cllr Leversha added: "I was surprised at how the debate went because a decision is normally made by full council.

"I've never know anything to go back to development control before."


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