Rushmoor's trading estates and business parks are to receive extra protection to prevent them being lost to housing.

Rushmoor Borough Council will make it harder for would-be developers to turn offices and industrial units into homes at 18 sites identified in the draft Rushmoor Local Plan as “locally important employment sites”.

However, the new policy will not come into force until February 19 next year as the council is required by law to give developers a long notice period.

Planning permission is normally needed to change the use of a building or land but some changes, known as "permitted development rights", do not require planning permission.

In recent years, the government has introduced permitted development rights allowing office buildings and storage and distribution buildings under 500 square metres to be changed to residential use without permission.

From October this year, permitted development rights will extend to cover light-industrial units smaller than 500 square metres.

RBC is concerned that these rights could lead to the loss of employment sites, in turn affecting the borough’s ability to retain and attract businesses, jobs and investment.

From February it will withdraw these rights, requiring developers to submit planning applications to the council for any housing schemes affecting the 18 listed sites.

A report prepared for members of RBC’s cabinet reveals that, during a six-week consultation period, only one response was received and it supported the withdrawal of the rights.

The response said the identified sites had a "diverse mix of industries and scale" from single traders to large multinationals.

Farnborough Business Park is one of 18 "locally important" employment sites to receive extra protection against redevelopment into housing
Farnborough Business Park is among 18 "locally important" employment sites to receive extra protection against redevelopment into housing

It agreed with the council that it was "important that Aldershot and Farnborough retain a strong portfolio of employment sites to support and encourage economic growth".

It added that RBC’s move offered an "additional layer of protection to ensure residential developments do not substantially outweigh employment opportunities in the local area".

Councillor Martin Tennant, RBC’s cabinet member for service delivery, said the withdrawal of permitted development rights would give the council "more powers to protect Rushmoor’s most important employment sites".

“It is vital that the borough has a good range of employment sites to support and encourage economic growth,” Cllr Tennant said.

“Residential development at these sites could damage its standing as a centre for business.

“We believe there is no point building extra homes unless there are the jobs to go with them, so we need to protect these sites carefully.

“This way, we can ensure that local development is more informed by local needs and more accountable to local residents through councillor scrutiny. ”

The 18 employment sites identified are:

Blackwater Trading Estate

Civil Enclave, Farnborough

East Aldershot Industrial Cluster

Eelmoor Road, Farnborough

Farnborough Aerospace Park

Farnborough Business Park

Frimley Business Park

Hawley Lane East

Hawley Lane West

Hollybush Lane, Aldershot

Invincible Road Industrial Estate, Farnborough

Lynchford Lane, Farnborough

Redan Road Industrial Estate, Aldershot

Rotunda Estate, Aldershot

Southwood Business Park, Farnborough

Spectrum Point, Farnborough

Springlakes, Aldershot

Wyndham Street, Aldershot