Amazon out and Lidl in? Basingstoke Gateway warehouse developer to submit new application which ‘saves oak trees’

THE developer of the proposed new distribution hub at junction 7 of the M3 is submitting a new full planning application across the whole site – but this time retaining the avenue of oak trees. Newlands Developments has also confirmed the new key occupier would be Lidl. The supermarket would occupy the largest of the three buildings; occupiers for the other two buildings are yet to be announced.

In October, members of Basingstoke & Deane Borough Council’s development control committee refused Newlands’ previous application – understood to be earmarked for Amazon – despite officers recommending it for approval. Six months after the plans for an Amazon warehouse were initially approved, councillors voted down the slightly amended scheme in an extraordinary set of circumstances after a parish council threatened to take legal action. By nine votes to two they decided that the landscape impact of the development would be too great.

They also cited that the development would prejudice the green infrastructure strategy, biodiversity and connectivity, and that there was no overriding public need for the proposal. A petition, which looked to save the oak trees on the site from destruction if the plans were approved, gained more than 100,000 signatures. Since that October decision, the developer has made significant changes to its scheme, and is set to submit a new application for a Lidl warehouse on the site.

The proposal is now 65 per cent smaller than the previous application – down from 271,000 square metres to 101,000 square metres. The height of the buildings has also been reduced between two and three metres across the site. The development is still a distribution hub to be served by HGVs, but Newlands claims that the changes would also see the number of HGV and car movements reduced significantly due to the reduced floorspace.

A proposed landscaping ‘bund’ to be located on the southern side of the M3 has been removed. However, that land might be used for further planting to increase biodiversity, a spokesperson for the company has said. John Barker, development director at Newlands Developments, said: “We were obviously disappointed our previous application was refused.

However, having seen the strength of feelings – in particular in relation to the loss of the oak trees – we have revised the proposed scheme and made significant changes, not least retaining the avenue of oaks. “We are delighted to be able to announce the key occupier of the larger of the three buildings will be Lidl, which already employs many people in Basingstoke through its three stores. “Lidl’s requirement has allowed us to reshape the scheme to pull that building away from the oak trees.

It will also free up some of the land on the northern part of our site for further landscaping and planting.” He continued: “”We have really listened to what the local community has said, and feel the revised proposals address the concerns expressed by residents and councillors. “There remains a real need for logistics developments in this area.

We all rely on them to ensure supermarket shelves are well-stocked. We really feel our revised application is good news for Basingstoke, and hope the changes are welcomed. “Despite the reduction in scale, our proposal will still create up to a thousand new jobs, including high-skilled roles.

At a time of economic uncertainty, we are extremely pleased Lidl is committing to investing in Basingstoke.”

Newlands says it now intends to carry out community consultation ahead of submitting the new application.