Aldershot Civic Society has hailed as a victory the refusal of plans to build flats on top of Aldershot’s Wellington Shopping Centre.
London and Cambridge Properties (LCP) submitted an application to Rushmoor Borough Council to build 43 flats above Boots and the multi-storey car park in Victoria Road.
The proposals had been recommended for approval by council officers, despite LCP arguing it was "unviable" to include any affordable housing in the scheme.
Yet members of the council's development committee rejected the application last Wednesday (March 29), fearing the flats would have an overbearing impact on the town.
In its official decision, the committee said the plans would have a “detrimental impact on the visual character and appearance of the town centre”.
The block would also spoil views from the neighbouring Aldershot West Conservation Area, the committee said.
The scheme attracted several letters from objectors, one of whom described it as a "landmark mistake to ruin Aldershot’s centre for future generations".
“As a resident looking forward to the regeneration of Aldershot, I was shocked and dumbfounded to see this plan to make an ugly building even more of an eyesore and taller," the objector added.
Justin Coll, leader of Aldershot Civic Society, said it objected because LCP wanted the development to look like the rest of the centre rather than redesigning the building.
“A lot of our members felt very strongly that this was not a good design for a development that would be so prominent in the town centre,” Mr Coll said.
“We would expect a design that was either in keeping with the town’s Victorian heritage or that promoted a modern, forward-looking Aldershot. This did neither.
“The Wellington Centre is functional but it won’t win any design awards. It’s only through modern, well thought-out developments that towns succeed these days.
"There’s an attitude that it’s only Aldershot so they can get away with a poor design, but we won’t accept that. Aldershot should not have to accept second best.
“We campaigned for local people to state their views on this development and lots of them did, so this is a success for us.”
Mr Coll said the society would be very disappointed if LCP contested the council’s decision.
He added: “They now know what local people expect, so hopefully they will raise their standards and re-submit something that people want to see.”
A spokesman for LCP would not comment at this stage.