A glimmer of hope remains for a company planning to build a go-karting track in a disused office building in Farnborough despite the proposals being set for rejection this week.
Rushmoor Borough Council’s development management committee members are due to discuss amended plans from TeamSport for the Invincible Road site on Wednesday evening.
TeamSport’s first application was rejected by members at July's meeting due to the fact the building, a former Royal Mail sorting office that has been empty for two years, is designated as a key employment site under the council’s core strategy for the borough.
At this meeting, however, many councillors argued at length in favour of the plan, saying the 38 jobs that would be created by the indoor go-karting track outweighed any negatives surrounding the loss of a site that could be used for industry.
Managing director Dominic Gaynor argued that the application would ‘not result in any harm’ and hoped councillors would consider the wider benefits.
TeamSport was therefore urged to come back with further evidence to support its claims that no other sites in Rushmoor were suitable for the track and that no interest had been expressed in the building by other potential employers.
The company produced a document detailing a total of 37 alternative sites considered within a 5km radius, in Farnborough, Aldershot and Camberley. Many were rejected because of a lack of floorspace.
One site in Summit Avenue, Farnborough, was deemed too big, and others were considered to expensive to redevelop.
Despite the required evidence having been produced, committee members will again be urged to reject the plans in the papers presented at Wednesday’s meeting. However, given the contrary views expressed in July’s meeting, councillors appear minded to ignore this suggestion and approve the go-karting track.
The one element of doubt that could yet scupper the members’ determination to give the green light to the plans was the precedent it would set for other developers, with officers reminding councillors two months ago of two high-profile examples.
KFC was told in May that a drive-through restaurant in North Close, North Lane, could not be built because the former Northgate Van Hire site was also deemed a key employment site needed for industrial expansion.
An appeal by Hobbycraft against the rejection of its plans to open a store in Farnborough’s Blackwater Retail Park also failed, despite the company insisting it was the only viable location.
Councillor Bruce Thomas warned at the last development management meeting that he could ‘guarantee’ that TeamSport plans would be pointed to by applicants such as KFC if approved.
“We’re caught in Solomon’s Judgement,” he said. “We’re in support of the application and yet we’re blowing a hole in our own policy.”